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Beer Festivals

by PubsandBeer

If you've never been to a beer festival before you may well be wondering what they're all about. Obviously it's got something to do with beer but who runs them and what's the format?

I remember the first beer festival I ever went to. I had some notion that it would be run by fellows with beards who would scrutinise my every movement like prison guards.

Don't ask me where I got this idea from but on walking up the doors of the Dover Winter Beer Festival 2001 I have to admit I was a little apprehensive.


There are 2 main Beer Festival organisers: CAMRA and Pub Landlords.

CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) are a laudable body whose aim is to promote the cause of Real Ale. They are made up of Regions which contain local branches. Each branch will often run a beer festival once a year and then group together to run a larger Region festival.

Beer festivals run by CAMRA range in size from 30 to 500 different beers and can run for just one day or for a whole week.

The method of paying for your beer at a CAMRA festival varies. I've been to festivals that sold a sheet of tokens (1, 50p & 10p) at the door which were then exchanged for beer. Some festivals take cash at the bar - but I've only been to 1 like this. The best payment method I've come across is used at the Dover Beer Festival who sell plastic credit card tokens at the door. Each token is half a pint regardless of the strength of the beer.

One tip worth remembering at CAMRA festivals is that you can cash-back any unused tokens at the end and also get back the deposit for your pint glass (if you don't want it as a souvenir).


Pub Landlords will often run their own beer festivals. Often these are very well run and can have 20 or 30 different beers for sale. Payment for beer here tends to be with cash.


If a beer festival lasts all day you might be wondering what you do about food? Obviously if the festival is in a pub you rely on whatever the pub will sell you. In the summer a pub will often run a barbeque but if you're concerned about food provision phone the pub before hand.

However, at CAMRA festivals you can often bring you own food. I say often because some venues CAMRA use won't let you bring food in, which in my opinion suggest a poor choice of venue by CAMRA.

Beer festival venues can vary considerably. I've been to ones held in fields, in cow sheds, 900 year old town halls, sports centres and a museum. Facilities can vary too from porta-loos to conference standard toilets and washing facilities.

If child care is a concern then don't let it be with CAMRA beer festivals. I've seen plenty of children running around beer tents and generally getting in the way with no one complaining.

So how was my first beer festival? Marvellous. The people at the table next to me were having a picnic and someone asked for a pint of Fosters, which raised a smile. As for the beer... stunning. I've been going back ever since.

Beer Festivals

Here's a list of the beer festivals we've been to.

If you want to find beer festivals near you then one of the best places to visit is the CAMRA website.

If it's a pub beer festival you're after you could alway contact the pub direct.

Festivals on PubsAndBeer

To see a list of festivals we've reviewed click here.