In my last post I stated that as venues go in the Fueled by Beer experience none could top the Guildhall Winchester. Well, I spoke too soon: at the recent CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival in Gloucester the Guildhall was well and truly topped…
CAMRA Gloucester is actually a small sub-branch within the Gloucestershire branch; their home turf covers just four postcodes in and around the city of Gloucester. Yet they were able to organize a first class event featuring over 100 real ales, over 30 ciders and perrys, plus locally produced cheeses and wines to boot. The unbelievably gorgeous venue when combined with the well thought out drink and food lineup made the Gloucester festival all the more remarkable.
Around one third of the real ales came from LocAle breweries – those located within a 30 mile radius – which is very typical of the other CAMRA festivals we have attended. The ciders and perrys were about 2/3 locally produced in the shires of Gloucester and Hereford where tons of orchards line the Severn and Wye valleys.
Gloucester is sufficiently distant from Reading that we don’t generally see real ales from its LocAle breweries in our neck of the woods. And as many of the non-LocAle beers at the festival came from Wales and southwest England; again there were not many we recognized.
There were only a few breweries from the south and north of England that we recognised and among those the ales they sent were not familiar. To Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer all this unfamiliar beer adds up to the hallmark of a good festival.
Gloucester’s Blackfriars Priory is the finest example of a Dominican Priory to have survived from the Middle Ages. Although dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530s, the Priory was not destroyed like so many of England’s monasteries at the time. It was instead sold into private hands and re-purposed as a residence and weaving factory.
In recent years the decaying structure has been stripped of all its post-reformation modifications and its surviving 13th century medieval fabric is being carefully restored. The Priory now serves as a thoroughly modern multi-use events centre in the heart of Gloucester’s city centre.
When Mr Fueled by Beer learned about the Gloucester Beer Festival, and especially its venue, it was too good a chance to miss. Direct rail service connects Reading to Gloucester in less time than we can drive so all we had to do was hop on the high speed train.
All-in-all this was a really enjoyable festival utilising a truly beautiful and unique venue; certainly one worthy of a return visit whenever we can. We look forward to the next one 🙂