Let’s drink to that!
It wasn’t planned, we swear it! When we left home this morning, we haven’t intended to attend any more events. We have backlog 3 miles long with many interesting events waiting patiently for their turn to be published on the blog. Our days would have to have 60 hours for us to finally catch up with all projects and plans. But enough of complaining – life in a fast lane is not a bad one. It is pretty exciting and sometimes we surprise ourselves how brilliant we are. You might not like us, but admitting that we are brilliant is not a flattery – it is just a very obvious fact 😀
So this morning, we had no idea that by 6 PM we would be visiting Worcester Beer Festival. We heard about the event last year, as the local press wrote several long articles about the large amount of beers, hundreds of visitors and excellent live music – but for one reason or another, we didn’t attend. This year a perfect opportunity presented itself right in front of us. We were spending a nice lazy day at the Hive (biggest library in Worcester), when we noticed big tents being raised at the nearby Worcester Racecourse. And when several big white tents are popping up in a flash, it can mean only one thing – an event is going to take place soon. Quick research online and we learnt enough to form spontaneous plans for the evening. And boy, it was worth to go there. We came by accident and we stayed on purpose – let this short sentence serves as the biggest recommendation we can think of!
Worcester Beer Festival is being organized by Worcester Branch of CAMRA (The Campaign For Real Ale). CAMRA has been founded in 1971 and is now the largest consumer organization in Europe. CAMRA’s main priority is to protect the art of brewing traditional British ales in casks and to support small, local breweries. Majority of independent breweries in the UK are family owned businesses, with long history and great skills. Despite having first class products, their chances of reaching customers are seriously limited by big international companies, retailers, distance and many other factors. CAMRA’s idea is to gather casket ales, beers, ciders and perries under one roof (or in one tent) and bring them to members of the public. Simple and works like a charm. When we arrived, the festival was sold out, the whole venue was packed like Glastonbury on a sunny day and people were queuing in hopes they will be admitted. A tip for beer lovers – reserve and buy tickets online. Waiting is shorter, you get VIP treatment and you do not risk not getting inside. Being a girl always helps! Or being a journalist, or both!
Ok, so what was so special about Worcester Beer Festival that prompted us to write the blog entry on the same day? First of all, it was brilliantly organized. Big kudos to volunteers, organizers and other people who made the whole thing possible. Despite alcoholic beverages being sold out everywhere in sight, there were no troubles at all. We met several drunken individuals pestering other guests and trying to pick up fights, but they were quickly pacified and taken outside the tent by security. Volunteers did their best to serve all customers swiftly, and even if the whole cask was emptied, they would replace them with new ones or advise something else. What was truly surprising was that the volunteers knew answer to all questions. We are not sure if they memorized names of all 200 brands, lists of ingredients used in the productions, or maybe they simply know so much, but it was a bit surreal and most impressive! If only politicians could answer of questions so precise and so quick! We have spoken to Steve Chase, one of the main organizers. Mr Chase was very kind and explained to us (first time visitors) what the festival is all about, why we cannot buy bottled beer and showed us around the festival grounds. We have been even equipped with official festival program and given an official festival beer glass.
If you care about statistics (some of our readers do) then we are pleased to report that the festival lasts three days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). There are more than 200 ales and beer brands, over 100 draught ciders and perries (alcoholic drink made from pears), nearly 40 fruit and grape wines, stored in more than 500 casks. Music and entertainment is provided by 15 different bands and the number of visitors is estimated at around 14 000 people. The best thing about the festival, however, is not the number of brands or casks. Each year, the festival is donating a lot of money to local charities in Worcester and in the neighboring counties. Last year, the public donated nearly 4.000 pounds to Midlands Air Ambulance, St Richards Hospice and Cancer Research UK. Buying a pint never tasted so good before!
We have tried several samples of the ales and Blue Monkey won by a long shot. You can learn more about their award winning beer called Guerrilla here: http://www.bluemonkeybrewery.com/beers/guerrilla.
Dark Star Brewery was advertised to be so good that it’s worthy to join the Dark Side for one single sip. Their Art of Darkness was very tasty and fruity but a bit too sweet. You can find their official site here: http://darkstarbrewing.co.uk/pdf/the-art-of-darkness.pdf or join their Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/darkstarbrewco
We have also liked the Birds and Bees from Scottish brewery Williams Bros. It was so light that looked almost white. The beer was very popular with the public and we needed to queue for a while: http://www.williamsbrosbrew.com/beerboard/casks
Honorable mentions go to Wooden Hand for their Black Pearl. We are sure Captain Jack Sparrow would dump the rum for this beer! (http://www.woodenhand.co.uk), Mayfields Brewery for Marches Gold (www.mayfieldsbrewery.co.uk) and Wolf Brewery from Norfolk for generally being howling good:D Their Lavender Honey was a hit among ladies! (http://www.wolfbrewery.com/).
If you’d like to visit the festival, you still have one whole day to do it. Saturday is going to be very busy, so please make sure you can come early to buy the tickets at the door if you still do not have them. The festival site is open from 10am till 11 pm. Tickets cost only 5 pounds per person.
You can find more information online:
Official website for the festival: http://worcesterbeerfest.org.uk/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorcesterCAMRABeerCiderAndPerryFestival
CAMRA’s website: www.camra.co.uk
Worcester Branch of CAMRA: www.worcestercamra.org.uk/camra.html
The BIGGEST Real Ale, Cider and Perry Festival in the West Midlands 8-10 August 2013 – 8-10 August 2013
Phone: 0845 269 6859
Have a great time and enjoy the drinks. October Fest is 3 months away!
Raise your glasses!
Rita and Malcia Dabrowicz