It’s hard to believe a year has passed already since our first Newbury Real Ale Festival. Yes, this past Saturday, our second time came around. So Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer rode the rails once again and headed down to Newbury…
Newbury’s annual event is unique among the festivals we attend: it is not a CAMRA event and does not appear to have any involvement from the campaign’s West Berkshire branch. Instead it is organized by the Newbury & Thatcham Hockey Club, funded by ticket sales and numerous corporate sponsors, and staffed by sponsor employees who volunteer their time. Proceeds benefit Naomi House and Jacksplace, who provide hospice care and support services to life-limited and life-threatened children, young adults, and their families.
There isn’t much to add that wasn’t already mentioned in last year’s post; this year’s festival was essentially a repeat of last year’s event with a similar attendance number and demographic, a similar range of ales, and excellent entertainment. Having attended both Newbury and Reading beer festivals two years straight we can now confirm our initial feeling from 2013, that the Newbury Real Ale Festival is in every way a better experience than Reading’s much larger event.
It wasn’t quite so clear cut in 2013 but this year at Newbury, a one day festival, a greater beer selection was available to us than the depleted choices we encountered on the penultimate day of Reading’s four day event. This is despite Reading 2014 starting with over 500 casks. I think it’s also fair to say that Newbury’s food is more varied and, we believe, of better quality. And as for the musical entertainment; there’s no comparison. Newbury is significantly better.
Perhaps an even more significant aspect we prefer about Newbury is that it is more family friendly and it just seems the people there are more friendly in general. Given the close proximity of Newbury to Reading I don’t really understand this phenomenon however young and old do seem to mix more readily at Newbury. There isn’t that selfish commandeering of tables and unwillingness to share displayed by the Gen X-ers and Y-ers that so infuriates old fart Boomers like us at Reading.
In fact at Newbury there are no tables at all; everyone sits on the grass picnic style and shares their space. There are significant numbers of families with kids running around playing, mums parking pushchairs (strollers) with infants, and dads hanging out with the missus and kids drinking beer and cider. Among all this the singles quite happily mingle in their midst. Actually it feels much more like a music festival atmosphere than a beer event, although of course beer, wine and cider is the main reason why most people are there.
As mentioned above the Newbury festival is not a CAMRA event but it is organized very much along CAMRA lines. This was apparent by the focus given to West Berkshire’s LocAle breweries as well as the northern breweries from outside our region that we don’t normally see at our local pubs.
Whereas last year’s Newbury festival had a distinct midlands focus, this year was aimed squarely at northern brewers. Out of 137 cask ales a very respectable 52 were Locales, or around 38% of the total, while the vast majority of the rest were from Yorkshire and Lancashire. All in all the contrast between our southern LocAles and the northern brews made for a great mix.
Here’s the 52 LocAles broken down by brewery, including the selection from the local brewer who we feel is pushing the envelope further than any other: Wild Weather Ales…
Binghams Brewery, Ruscombe, Berks. – 10
Wild Weather Ales, Silchester, Hants. – 9
West Berkshire Brewery, Yattendon, Berks. – 7
Two Cocks Brewery, Enborne, Berks. – 7
Butts Brewery, Gt Shefford, Berks. – 6
Kennet & Avon Brewery, Seend, Wilts. – 4
Loose Cannon Brewery, Abingdon, Oxon. – 4
Upham Brewery, Bishops Waltham, Hants. – 4
Wadworth & Co, Devizes, Wilts. – 1
And here’s what Mr & Mrs Fueled by Beer tippled throughout the afternoon. As usual smiley faces denote our favorites:
Mr Fueled by Beer
- Allgates Brewery, Wigan, Lancashire: All Black Dark Mild (3.6% ABV)
- Big Clock Brewery, Accrington, Lancashire: Dirty Blonde Golden Ale (4.2% ABV)
- Brass Castle Brewery, Malton, N. Yorkshire: Brass Lager Vienna Style (5.3% ABV) 🙂
- Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire: Elsie Mo Golden Ale (4.7% ABV)
- Ilkley Brewery, Ilkley, W. Yorkshire: Joshua Jane Bitter (3.7% ABV)
- Palmers Brewery, Bridport, Dorset: Tally Ho Dark Stong Ale (5.5% ABV)
- Partners Brewery, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire: Tabatha Belgian Style Tripel (6.0% ABV)
- Rudgate Brewery, Tockwith, N. Yorkshire: Ruby Mild Dark Mild (4.4% ABV)
- Timothy Taylor & Co, Keighley, W. Yorkshire: Boltmaker Best Bitter (4.0% ABV)
- Wild Weather Ales, Silchester, Hampshire: Can’t Stand the Rain Rye IPA with Nelson Sauvin (4.0% ABV) 🙂 🙂 🙂
- Wild Weather Ales, Silchester, Hampshire: Summer’s Breeze Berliner Style Sour with Lemongrass (5.8% ABV) 🙂 🙂
Mrs Fueled by Beer
- Dunscar Bridge Brewery, Bolton, Lancashire: Rialto 47 Bitter (3.9% ABV) 🙂
- Little Valley Brewery, Cragg Vale, W. Yorkshire: Hebden’s Wheat Witbier (4.5% ABV)
- Salopian Brewery, Shrewsbury, Shropshire: Darwin’s Origin Best Bitter (4.3% ABV) 🙂 🙂
- Two Cocks Brewery, Enborne, Berkshire: 1643 Puritan Stout (4.5% ABV) 🙂 🙂 🙂
- Wild Weather Ales, Silchester, Hampshire: Darkness Liquorice Mild (3.7% ABV)
Newbury Real Ale Festival: it probably ranks up there in our three or four most favorite festivals. 🙂