Maidenhead Beer Festival 2015

This past weekend the Slough, Windsor & Maidenhead branch of CAMRA held their 3rd annual beer festival at Maidenhead’s Desborough College. New for 2015, the venue facilitated a larger festival compared to the previous site: more beer selection and more space for attendees. And, fortuitously as it turned out, the college’s expansive covered areas provided much needed shelter from the elements particularly on opening day…

mr fbb badgeMr & Mrs Fueled by Beer, attending the festival both as volunteer bar staff and as drinkers, enjoyed one of the most well organized and run events of any in their experience. Between the main CAMRA bars and Windsor & Eton Brewery’s bar an impressive 111 different cask ales were offered, up from around 80 last year. Over 50 came from LocAle breweries, plus a very respectable 30+ from breweries in Yorkshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

While working the bars a frequent comment from visitors was how great the beer selection was and the excellent condition they were in. A problem with many summer festivals is too much focus on lighter styles however at this event only around 40% fell into the ‘summery’ style categories; the majority were milds, porters and stouts, dark and specialty ales, and wheat ales and saisons. All in all, an extremely adventurous lineup; the festival beer buyers, along with the cellar team who employed an efficient cask cooling system, really excelled themselves. The full beer list can be viewed here.

mrs fbb badgeA word about the venue…

Desborough College’s combination of expansive indoor spaces and covered outdoor areas delivered a massive improvement over the past years’ football ground site. And it really proved itself on opening day when rain fell almost without break. Even when the main hall bar area filled up during the evening while the band was playing there was still room to sit or stand in the hall or find somewhere to sit in the adjacent covered outdoor area.

The only downside was the exposed playground space given to the food concessions and pouring rain: with few customers leaving the covered areas the vendors’ trade was somewhat dampened on Friday. However on Saturday the weather was much better and folks were able to sit outside in the sunny open area by the food concessions, which made the vendors much happier. Of course those of us working on the bars did brisk business throughout the event.

Based on our own unscientific observations we believe the festival was a success for the branch and we look forward to next year’s event. Here’s a few photos from Friday and Saturday – click an image to view the gallery (credit: swmcamra.org.uk)…

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