The marquee is up and the casks of beers have arrived and that is when you know as an organiser and festival volunteer that you’ve got a festival to put on. The excitement is palpable.
York CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival
York Racecourse, Knavesmire Road, York YO23 1EX
Wed Sept 14 5.30pm-11pm; Thurs Sept 15-Sat Sept 17: noon-11pm
This coming week is the culmination of planning and preparations that started in December last year and all of us in the York Beer Festival crew believe we’ve got an absolute cracker waiting for you.
In short we’re going to be serving over 490 beers and 100+ ciders in a new location in a huge marquee opposite the York Racecourse grandstand.
It is Yorkshire’s biggest annual beer festival and for 4 days have Europe’s longest bar at nigh on 300 feet long.
The festival attracts a good natured crowd of all ages from all walks of life and from some 20 different countries – such is the attraction of both the range of beers, the venue and no doubt York itself, with many visitors incorporating the festival into their holiday plans which include staying in York to visit the attractions.
I myself am running the Foreign Beer Bar again this year (come and say “Hi”) and had a great time last year talking to visitors from the likes of Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
A party from Denmark had arranged a trip especially and were having a ball. Everyone commented on how friendly the festival was and on the mind boggling array of beers that completely blew away the stereotypical myth of warm bland British beer.
The key to a successful festival is having something for everyone and hopefully we’ll achieve that this week with an unparalleled variety of different real ales, ciders, foreign beers as well as wines, meads, fruit wines, bottled beers, alcohol free beers and a huge array of different foods from catering outlets in Yorkshire’s biggest beer garden.
There will also be plenty of live music to keep you entertained as well.
In the marquee will be more stands selling more foods and merchandise as well as our Tombola and Membership stand so you can join at the festival and get a beer on us. We’ll also be selling local pub books including the latest by pub expert Dave Gamston on Yorkshire’s Heritage Pubs at a very special price.
Eleven to try
When looking at the beer list of 470+ real ales it is sometimes invidious to single out specific things to look out for but for some pointers I sought the views of our resident real ale guru Allan Conner, who is responsible for ordering all of the real ales you will try and he came up with some pointers.
Bingham’s Vanilla Stout is the current Champion Beer of Britain so definitely worth trying as demand will probably exceed supply
Northern Monk Black Forest Strannik is making a rare appearance as a cask beer
Wilde Childe beers are both excellent and rare due to the small size of the brewery
North Brewing beers are making a rare appearance in cask as most of their beers are in keg only
Steampunk and Horbury Ales are rarely seen outside their local area being very small breweries
The Art Brew beers are from their new location in Devon having relocated recently from Dorset
Our two York Beer Festival specials – Brew York’s Tonkoko and Ghost’s Elysium are one off brews so unlikely to be seen again once stocks run out
The cask of Brass Castle / Half Moon Lunatic is the last in existence and has specially been held back for the festival
Take a look at the keykeg bar (a first this year) for some pretty exotic and rare beers. (Note – do not mistake keykeg for “keg”. Keykeg is real ale but dispensed by a different method to cask.)
A full list of all the beers and ciders, which includes the largest array of Yorkshire beers ever available in a single venue, is available to peruse at our website.
Your beery questions answered
Where is the festival?
What are the opening hours?
Can I buy advance tickets?
How do I get to the festival?
Let’s get down to business, what is there to drink?
What beers are you stocking at the festival?
What are the admission charges?
Thursday 19th – Public £4.50, CAMRA members £2.50;
Friday 20th/Saturday 21st – Public £5.50, CAMRA members £3.50
Why do I have to pay to get in?
Do I have to buy a glass?
Are there beer tokens or is it a cash bar?
How much is a pint?
Do you sell drinks in thirds of a pint?
Will there be a programme available?
Will all the beers in the programme be available at all times?
Do you sell lager?
Can I bring my own beer?
Can I bring children?
Will I be able to buy food at the festival?
Will there be parking available?
Is there a smoking area?
What about dogs?
No, I meant can they come to the festival too?
Is there live entertainment?
What if it rains?
Will I have to queue to get in?
Do you still need bar staff?