We Brits certainly love our ale, evident by the sheer number of beer festivals held around the UK every year. In fact, there’s probably some kind of celebration of the good old British pint going on somewhere near you this very weekend. The range of beers, literally on tap, at these events is simply staggering, from the mega-brands we all know and love to the experimental microbrewery offerings. There’s something for everyone out there – apart from those who don’t like beer of course – so in this month’s PAAM volunteer management software blog we’re bringing you just a small skinful of the best beverage bonanzas taking place at home and abroad this year!
The Fifth Annual Big Bournemouth Beer Festival, BIC Purbeck Hall, 18-24 April 2014
Held over the Easter bank holiday weekend, the Bournemouth Beer Festival is once again returning to the BIC Purbeck Hall this year. Visitors will have the chance to sample more than 200 beers from all corners of the British Isles, and stomp their feet to an eclectic live music line-up that includes folk band Quinn’s Quinney on the Friday, ukulele maestros Mother Ukers on Saturday afternoon and 10 piece Latin reggae act Pachango on Saturday evening. ‘Sup-up Sunday’ doesn’t require a ticket, just a thirst for some of the UK’s best real ales, novelty and seasonal beers, ciders and perries.
Reading Beer and Cider Festival, King’s Meadow, 1-4 May 2014
More than 500 real ales and 200 ciders will be tickling the taste buds of visitors to the Reading Beer and Cider Festival this year. As well as a range of foreign beverages and Great British wines, guests are invited to sample fabulous food while listening to live music, playing festival games or trying their luck in the quintessential pub quiz. Sunday is Family Day when access to the entertainment, but not the beer, is free for under 18s.
Cambridge Beer Festival, Jesus Green, 19-24 May 2014
Now in its 41st year, the Cambridge Beer Festival is the longest running regional celebration of ale in the country. The organisers are currently whittling down a long list of breweries and beers to make sure that the best local and national ales are available to all. Also on display will be a comprehensive range of ciders, perries, meads and wines for those with no head for beer (get it?). The festival is famous for its legendary Cheese Counter, where, as well as an astonishing range of cheeses, locally produced bread, pork pies, ham and other savoury delights will be on offer. Yum!
Great British Beer Festival, London Olympia 12-16 August 2014
Last year, 50,000 visitors flocked to “the biggest pub in the world”, the Great British Beer Festival at London Olympia, to sip more than 800 different real ales, ciders, perries and beers. This year the very best of British brewing will be returning to the venue, where visitors will be treated to tutored tastings, traditional pub games, live music, delicious stomach-lining pub food and barrels of entertainment. Organised by the Campaign for Real Ale, the festival also hosts the Champion Beer of Britain competition. The list of beers on offer is enormous, meaning there will be something here for even the choosiest ale aficionado.
London Craft Beer Festival, The Oval Space, Bethnal Green, 14-16 August 2014
Smaller by the simple rules of proportion than the Great British Beer Festival, the London Craft Beer Festival deliberately focuses on less traditional, newer brewers. Although most are based in London, the event also invites a few choice international brewers with a reputation for their beer making abilities.
This year more than 100 beers will be on show alongside the best of barbeque from capital’s finest butchers and a wide range of street food.
Visitors can sip their pints merrily to live music and DJs, and all tickets include a branded glass, a beer from each brewer and a programme providing helpful tasting notes.
Mondial de la Bière, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 11-15 June 2014
Celebrated for being the largest beer festival in North America, the Mondial de la Bière will be serving up more than 500 different ales, beers, meads and ciders this year.
Visitors will also have the chance to sample a variety of exotic treats at the beer festival including kangaroo, bison, wild boar and deer, as well as the more familiar options of fudge, cheese and breads.
Beer fans will want to seek out profs from the Montreal beer school, who will be putting on workshops and answering questions on everything to do with producing the perfect pint.
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany, 20 September – 5 October 2014
Probably the biggest celebration dedicated to beer on the planet, Oktoberfest was originally established to celebrate the wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Sax-Hildburghausen on 12 October 1810.
The 16-day event draws around six million drinkers each year to Munich, with beer provided by the city’s Big Six breweries: Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Spaten, Paulaner, Augustiner and Hacker-Pschoor.
All of that lovely frothy stuff can be soaked up with a range of traditional Bavarian cuisine, including sauerkraut and sausage. Wunderbar!
Cape Town Festival of Beer, Hamilton’s Rugby Club, Green Point, 28-30 November 2014
The Southern hemisphere’s biggest, and arguably best, beer festival takes place over the last weekend in November and features more than 200 beers, both locally and internationally brewed. The entertainment on offer at Cape Town Festival of Beer includes live music, live rugby, a host of food stalls and guided beer tours given by some of the country’s top ale experts. Keep an eye out for what the festival organisers claim is the world’s biggest game of beer pong, as well as the brilliantly colourful costumes worn by some of the servers.
Thai Beer Festival, Central World shopping centre, Bangkok, November to January 2014/15
Like all the best festivals in Thailand, the Thai Beer Festival starts when it starts and finishes when it finishes. The months from November to January are considered the best weather-wise in the country; the rains have ended and the hot season has yet to reek its havoc. So, at some point during this period, tourists and locals will flock to the capital’s beer gardens to drink the native delights of Leo, Singha and Chang while noshing on all manner of tasty Thai treats. Beware the Chang however, as even the guys who brew the stuff aren’t sure of the alcohol content from bottle to bottle. Somewhere between 5-7 per cent is a good estimate, but this dodgy approximation is why travelers who overdo it on the elephant-branded beer often experience a ‘Chang-over’!