York CAMRA’s Nick Love has this handy guide to the mega beer and cider fest on all this weekend
The North of England’s biggest beer festival has opened its doors on York’s Knavesmire. A huge marquee next to Tadcaster Road is hosting thousands of drinkers not just from York or indeed the UK, but all over the world with beer and cider enthusiasts expected from over 20 countries.
You can understand the pulling power of the York Beer and Cider Festival – with more than 400 draught real ales, 100 draught ciders and a foreign beer bar on offer.
To celebrate Yorkshire being the centre of the beer universe there will be a whopping 280 beers from 84 Yorkshire brewers available – the largest range ever assembled in one place.
The festival, run by York CAMRA, is also hosting the prestigious SIBA North East Beer Competition for the first time as well as delegates from the international beer and brewing conference Beeronomics 2013 which is being held in the UK for the first time in York.
All visitor’s needs will be catered for with live music from talented local bands and a large catering “village” will offer hot and cold food to suit all tastes.
To help your visit go swimmingly, York CAMRA have prepared this handy FAQ which should tell you all you need to know…
Where is the festival?
In a giant marquee on York’s famous Knavesmire just off Tadcaster Road, York, YO24 1DJ.
What are the opening hours?
5.30pm to 11pm on Wednesday, September 18 and midday to 11pm on Thursday, September 19 to Saturday 21.
How do I get to the festival?
It is a 20 minute stroll from York Rail Station, from where you can also take a taxi or catch bus services 4, 12, 13, 21, 37,843, 844 & 845. From York city centre, Stonebow bus stop: – services 12, 13, 21, 843, 844 & 845.
Let’s get down to business. What is there to drink?
There will be over 400 real ales, over 100 real ciders and an international bar selling a selection of foreign beers (draught and bottled beers including lagers). There will also be a selection of English wines and soft drinks.
What are the admission charges?
Wednesday 18th – Public £3, CAMRA members £1;
Thursday 19th – Public £4, CAMRA members £2;
Friday 20th/Saturday 21st – Public £5, CAMRA members £3
Why do I have to pay to get in?
The cost of putting on a festival of this scale is very significant and admission charges go towards covering just some of the outlay on things such as marquee hire, fencing, generators, toilet facilities, bar equipment and scaffolding.
Do I have to buy a glass?
You will need to buy a souvenir polycarbonate festival pint or half pint “glass” when you arrive (licensing conditions do not allow real glass) which can be refunded should you choose, when you leave the festival.
Are there beer tokens or is it a cash bar?
There will be no beer tokens – you pay cash for your beverage, as you would in a pub.
How much is a pint?
Visitors in previous years will know that we keep prices as reasonable as possible. Beers will be priced individually to reflect their strength (ABV).
Do you sell drinks in thirds of a pint?
Yes, glasses are marked for third and half pint measures as well.
Will there be a programme available?
Yes, for just 50p you can buy a programme listing all the available beverages with tasting notes..
Will all the beers in the programme be available at all times?
We will endeavour to have the greatest range of beers on at all times but reserve the right to keep beers from sale due to them not being ready for drinking. The range will of course diminish as beers sell out.
Do you sell lager?
Do not expect the mass produced brands that you would see in your local! Although this is primarily a real ale festival there will be a limited selection of premium world lagers available at the International Bar. There may also be some British cask lager on the beer bar.
Can I bring my own beer?
No – soft drinks only in plastic bottles.
Can I bring children?
Under 18s will be admitted with a responsible adult but will be required to leave by 8pm.
Will I be able to buy food at the festival?
Yes, there will be a good variety of different hot and cold foods encompassing cuisines from around the world including vegetarian options.
Is there a smoking area?
There is a very large beer garden that accommodates smokers.
Will there be parking available?
There is plenty of parking for bikes. There will be limited on-street parking for cars adjacent to the festival on Knavesmire Road, but of course we do not recommend driving to the festival unless you are a non-drinker.
What about dogs?
Dogs that are kept under control and on a lead at all times are allowed.
Is there live entertainment?
There is a varied programme of live music covering all sessions apart from Thursday night which is being kept as a quiet session.
What if it rains?
There is plenty of standing room in the marquee as well as plenty of seating.
Will I have to queue to get in?
Most of the day there will be no queue (apart from opening time). In 2012 the peak was 10 minutes on Friday night. If we reach our safety limit then we may have to go to “one out one in”.
Can I buy tickets in advance?
We do not offer advance tickets, just pay on the door when you arrive.
Can you recommend accommodation?