Beer Festivals-

a celebration of choice and quality

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Some words of wisdom....

What Beer Festivals are...

Beer Festivals
for Women

CAMRA National Listing
of Beer Festivals


Pubs Galore




CAMRA in Cheshire


Branch Diaries

Publications & Articles

Useful Links


For details of Beer Festivals in your area, scroll down or follow the links on the left....

Planning your own
Beer Festival?

Don't make a move without talking to us first!

We can offer advice on publicity, dates, types of beer
and all sorts of practical stuff.

We have drafted a checklist of dos and don'ts.

Please follow these links for a few words of

and a
Check List

for Festival organisers

The Campaign for Real Ale has always been at the forefront in organising beer festivals.

These must not be confused with the popular mental image of Bavarian binges with excesses of oompah bands, sheeps knuckles and buckets of lager.

Instead, they are a celebration of the art of British Brewers.
You can expect to find
scores of rare real ales, traditional ciders and perries.
Often there will be music for part of the time. Usually food is available.

The beer is not free; CAMRA has to buy it from brewers and wholesalers, and we sell it at local pub prices. The staff you see are not brewery employees either; they are all volunteers; ordinary folk like you and me, who care enough about their heritage to join CAMRA. They will be keen and knowledgeable, however, and will be happy to recommend examples of the styles you choose.

The atmosphere at a CAMRA Festival is invariably good-humoured and relaxed; ideal for a civilised sampling session for you and your friends.

One of the great advantages of CAMRA membership is that you can get into our Festivals, either free or at a reduced price. Better still, if you volunteer to help out for a few hours (no experience necessary), then you will find that your beer is free or at a reduced price. This is a good way to meet people, make new friends and have a good time.

Follow these links CAMRA, Beer Festivals, Pubs Galore, & Quaffale for useful listings of Beer Festivals nationwide.

Follow this link for a useful review of of some of the local Beer Festivals held last year.


Jill Hasler explains what Beer Festivals areÖ.

Chatting at work about our weekends, I mentioned that I had been to a Beer Festival. Quite apart from the raised eyebrows that this usually evokes, one colleague commented, in a wondering tone, ĎYou really actually like beer, donít you?í Talking further, it became obvious that most people had no idea what happened at a beer festival.

So, for those not in the know, here follow some of the questions I had to answer.

Do you sip, taste and then spit it out? You can if you want- although it is not polite to do this in public! It is not a wine tasting. We do actually drink the beer- after all, we have paid for a half or a pint. We do sometimes sniff before tasting, to savour the aroma, which, as with wine, can tell you a lot. We may also hold the beer up to the light, to check for colour and clarity- unless itís a wheat beer, we donít like it cloudy!

How do you avoid getting a beer you donít like, and then being stuck with it? Many festival programmes come with tasting notes. You may be able to ask the staff behind the bar (many will be CAMRA members), and many will let you have a small taste, before you commit yourself to a proper measure (but they may not be obliging if you have too many tastes!) Bear in mind that the bar staff can be very busy and are unpaid volunteers.

What do you mean- types of beer? I only know Bitter and Guinness. Bitter comes in a variety of strengths, some with a low ABV are easy to drink and not too strong. Then there are the stronger, premium beers (sometimes called Best Bitters), Milds (light or dark in colour and i a range of strengths), Stouts (of which Guinness is the heavily advertised, but not the best, example) and Porters (dark, and often strong and sweet). Derived from our continental cousins, there are also refreshing Wheat Beers (often deliberately cloudy and sometimes spiced with cinnamon or orange) and fruit beers (peach, cherry, banana, raspberry; you name it). Try some of each until you know what you like.

ABV? Iíve seen that on handpump clips. Alcohol by volume- an indicator of the strength of the beer- 3.6% is lowish, 4.2% to 4.8% is average, above 5% strong- watch out for the 8% and above! You learn to pace yourself (or most people do).

OK, so what about me? Beer Festivals are for men, surely? Women donít like beer. Most festivals have real cider as well as beer, or a foreign bottled beer stall (with premium lager-style European beers or fruit beers). However, WOMEN DO LIKE BEER- and I should know. Wine, gin etc are not thirst quenching, lemonade and coke (and alco-pops) are too sweet and fizzy. Beer is refreshing. Try a dark mild (eg Black Cat), or, if you are used to lager, a light, pale bitter or a real lager (eg Schiehallion).

Anything else? Most festivals have food available- sometimes hot, and usually cheese and bread or similar as well. Some have better food than others, just as pubs do. Many have live music at some sessions. Venues range from a tiny village hall, through marquees, large Victorian edifices, even Olympia (the Daddy of them all) or the vaults below a large cathedral.

Where do I start? See our listing above for details of Beer Festivals in your area. They all have a different character, often changing from session to session. Macclesfield, for example on Friday or Saturday night is like a big party; crowded and noisy, with live music, while Saturday lunchtime is quieter, traditional and free to get in!
And if you can't wait that long, the pubs are open every day!

Next time you are out with friends, ask the bar staff or one of your companions for a taste of the real ale. You have nothing to lose but your innocence.

Wherever you go, try it and enjoy the experience. Real Ale does not all taste the same. You may find yourself in time remembering distinctive tastes or names and acquiring your own personal favourites.

Beer Festivals for Women
What is the beer festival all about?

It is about trying different beers- as many as you like- in a friendly atmosphere- with music in the evenings, or, should you prefer, at a quieter lunchtime session. Different beers? Beer comes in all colours and tastes, from the stronger dark ales through to the lighter flowery golden beers- and the only way to find out which sort you like is to try a variety of types. I love a cup of tea- but I can't stand Earl Grey- so don't assume that all beer tastes the same- it doesn't.
OK, so what about us women? Beer Festivals are for men, surely? Women don't like beer. NOT TRUE! Many women love beer-and of those who don't, most have just not tried the right beer for them. Many women will drink lager- so why not try a golden beer, similar but without the chemicals and the gassiness?
A common complaint is that 'beer fills you up'- it's not usually the beer, but the gas. Real beer is also much purer and healthier than the fizzy keg varieties. If you're not keen on lager, try the sweeter beers, or a fruit based beer, or a darker, weaker mild, or a full flavoured, hoppy bitterÖ.the choice is endless! If it's not too busy, ask for a little taste first, to see if you like it. Talk to the people behind the bar- most of us can at least give you an idea of what to expect from each beer- although, of course, we haven't tried them all!
And if you really can't get on with beer? Beer festivals are STILL for women. There is a real cider stand- again, not the sterile, fizzy keg type but the real, flavoursome type, in different sweetnesses and strengths (be careful- it's often stronger than the beer).
There is a bottled beer stall, featuring foreign beers- like strong lagers, but also often including Belgian fruit beers. And of course, there's a choice of fine wines. If you can't find anything you like out of that range, just enjoy the atmosphere of one of the best parties around. If nothing else, it's one of the few places where the queue for the Ladies is much shorter than that for the Gents! But remember- many of the men at the festival are trying real ale for the first time- why not join them?


This is an independent site full of all sorts of useful stuff, including a pretty good listing of upcoming beer festivals.

All contents copyright © 2009, Macclesfield and East Cheshire CAMRA Branch.
All rights reserved. Last Revised: November 7, 2017
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