York relishes role at centre of beer universe

Our city at the top of the beer tree? We'll drink to that! Image: Extract from Dandy Shandy, 1910 advert, via Frederic Humbert on Fotopedia
Our city at the top of the beer tree? We’ll drink to that! Image: Extract from Dandy Shandy, 1910 advert, via Frederic Humbert on Fotopedia

Only in its fifth year, the city’s beer festival now attracts folk from more than 20 countries. And that’s only the start. York CAMRA’s Nick Love reports

Preparations are well advanced for what has become the North of England’s biggest beer festival.

Yes – York Camra’s fifth Knavesmire Beer and Cider Festival is approaching faster than most people realise and such is its size these days that there is an awful lot of logistics to plan and deliver to make it the outstanding event it has been in previous years.

Due to the undoubted success of last year’s format, the extra day has been retained and the festival will run for four days from Wednesday 18th to Saturday 21st September, giving visitors plenty of time to sample the huge range of over 350 real ales and 100 real ciders that will be on offer.


Northern beer competition

It is recognition of the important status that the York Beer Festival has achieved that it has been selected to host this year’s highly prestigious annual SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) North East Beer Competition.

This will see the brewing community of the whole of the North East of England converging on the Knavesmire on the Wednesday of the festival to see their beer compete for regional champion status in 14 different judging categories.

York seems to be the centre of the beer universe in September, as coinciding with the beer festival is the International Conference of the Economics of Beer and Brewing – Beeronomics 2013.

This highly prestigious event is being hosted at York University and CAMRA is looking forward to welcoming the delegates to the festival for welcome refreshment after the daily conference programme has ended.


Breweries on board

The opening day of the festival will also host the hugely popular trade session for local licensees. Last year also this attracted more than 50 brewers from all over Yorkshire to help celebrate the status of Yorkshire as the beer capital of the UK.

With this in mind, the festival will again be promoting a selection of some of the superb beers available from the 123 breweries that reside in Yorkshire, with particular prominence given to LocAle breweries – featuring beers brewed within 25 miles of York.

For those of you looking beyond these sceptred isles, there will of course be a foreign beers bar – featuring the best Europe and the US has to offer.

Fun for all the family on Knavesmire
Fun for all the family on Knavesmire at the 2012 beer festival. Photographs: York CAMRA
Mine's a pint… of one of the 350 beers. York Beer Festival 2012. Photograph: York CAMRA
More than 50 brewers are expected to attend again.
Roll out the barrels. The long bar of beer
Roll out the barrels. The long bar of beer

Loads to do

The festival will be held in one huge marquee this year next to Tadcaster Road and there will be plenty on offer to satisfy the needs of the beery hordes.

There will be live music showcasing local bands and musicians including the popular Saturday afternoon open mic session; beer related merchandise; a CAMRA membership stand which last year signed up an astonishing 82 new local members; plus a large catering village which will offer hot and cold food to suit all tastes.

Groups from as far away as Boston, Massachusetts, arranged trips to the beer festival last year and this year visitors are expected from more than 20 countries.

Put those dates in your diary and York CAMRA are very much looking forward to welcoming one and all to what has grown into an annual York(shire) institution.


York Beer Festival 2013

Dates: Wednesday, September 18 to Saturday, September 21, 2013
Location: Knavesmire, Tadcaster Road, York
Opening Hours: 5.30-11pm on Wednesday, 12-11pm on the Thursday to Saturday
Admission: Wednesday 18th – public £3, CAMRA members £1; Thursday 19th – public £4, CAMRA members £2; Friday 20th / Saturday 21st – public £5, CAMRA members £3

Find more on the York Beer Festival website, on the Facebook page, or follow @beerfestyork on Twitter