14th Bexley Beer Festival

This was our Fourteenth Bexley Beer Festival. Many thought there would never have been one, especially me. Now held at Dartfordians Community Sports Club in Bexley for the seventh year running (the seven previous being held at Sidcup Rugby Club), lasting two and a half days (opening Thursday at 2pm) and with 101 different beers, plus an extra 3 racked bright beers (which is cask-conditioned beer that has dropped bright at the brewery and then racked and transferred to a new container) and 25 Ciders and 3 Perrys available for the customers to drink. Despite the rain we had an excellent attendance of good natured Beer/Cider/Perry drinkers who, when we closed at 9pm, left us with about 16 gallons of beer and 150 pints of Cider/Perry left. Thanks for all your kind comments as we do try to run a festival with a relaxed atmosphere. Attendance was slightly up on last year 1733 against 1711 (+22) with 715 CAMRA members, 976 non-members and 42 under the age of 26, which with the rain and an often indoor swimming pool in the Marquee, we think was a marvellous achievement; thanks to all who attended.
Beer of the festival, by customer vote, was a tie between Cullercoats Porthole Coffee Porter (number 35 in programme) and Kent Brewery's Old Jamaica (number 60) with Bexley Brewery's Howbury 21-Milk Stout (number 12) and Flash House Forest Fruits Porter (number 44 ) both joint second. Cider/Perry was a win for Turners Apple Pie Cider (letter V), with Turners Rhubarb (letter Y), Wharf Coachbuilder Passion Fruit (letter BB) and Napton Single Tree Perry (letter R) sharing second place. Thank you to all who voted; it seemed to be more dark beer drinkers who voted looking at the overall results. Our top ten of the first casks to run out in order was first, Bexley's Alcock and Brown Bitter (number 13), followed by their Black Prince Rum Porter (number 17), then Flash House Forest Fruit Porter (number 44), followed by another Bexley Brew, their Howbury 21-Milk Stout (number 12), Cold Bath Pale Ale (number 32), Tankley's Golden Ale (number 77), Wild Weather Full Of Beans Coffee Stout (number 97), Bexley Howbury 15- Aged Dark Beer (number 18), again another Bexley beer, this time their excellent Anchor Bay IPA (number 16), and at number ten another local brewer in the shape of Brithop Sandstorm (number 21) whose brewer Stuart could be seen working behind the bar. The first Cider/Perry to run out was Snails Bank Pineapple & Pink Grapefruit followed by Turners Apple Pie. You may have noticed that this year we had a plethora of 'Transatlantic Ales'; beers brewed with American hops in honour of the flight made by Alcock and Brown in the shape of Pales, IPAs, Goldens and Blondes. Our dark beer selection had 8 Milds, 8 Porters and 8 Stouts along with 1 Old Ale.
Our grateful thanks go to everyone who supported and sponsored us: Westerham and Bexley Breweries for the glasses, The Door Hinge, Penny Farthing, Broken Drum, Hackney Carriage, Hanger, Bird & Barrel, Hopper's Hut and Half Way House for sponsoring the t-shirts, the staff t-shirts via Smart T's and Macaulay Scott of Welling for the card flyers and our printing needs, the six micros who sponsored our "Strike Cards" (Broken Drum, Hackney Carriage, Penny Farthing, Hanger, Hoppers Hut and Halfway House). Keith Holbrook, Club Steward, and Rocky and the Grounds Man (who sorted out our excess water problem) and Bill Sergeant along with Steve and wife to be for the food for all their help and advice. Keith was presented with the Bexley Club of the Year award at the festival on Saturday by our beloved chairman Roland Amos, who also welcomed the Mayor and his wife, as we were supporting their two local charities (£393.37 raised by the festival, thanks everyone) and local MP David Evennett who shook a few hands.
This festival is organized and staffed by CAMRA volunteers from Bexley and beyond, (it was nice to see Ian and Helen from Nottingham, returning to assist) who give up their free time to make it such an enjoyable event, indeed without whom the festival would not exist. Good to see some more newcomers helping out. Compliments to our new Bar Manager Brian, Door/Glasses/Tokens Manager Alan, Site Manager Pat and another newbie in a vital role, Volunteers Manager Pam, and not forgetting Martin, our new Treasurer (and his P.A. Sandy). Many thanks to Roland, our previous Staffing Officer, who decided to step down after 3 years and became our technical guru. Joe and Rob who did the cooling. Paul Turner who decorated the Cider/Perry bar (best in fourteen years!) and used his vast knowledge and experience to assist the more un-knowledgeable in their quest to learn more about other ways to enjoy the apple and the pear. Thanks to everyone who helped during set-up, worked during opening hours or take down; whatever your role in making Bexley a success we appreciate and applaud you. And so to Andy Wheeler, proprietor of the Broken Drum micro pub (a mention to John Connor, the Brewer of Broken Drum Home Brew; the Gaspode Mild was good) who is the Organiser of the event and spends hours slaving away in front of a computer to complete the essential paperwork necessary to bring the festival to life, (this year so much extra H&S work). Glad you all enjoyed it despite the deluge of rain, do come again, shame about the cricket.
Next year, subject to confirmation, 7th - 9th May. The toilets will be finished, it will probably rain, sadly again no cricket, still you can enjoy the Beer and Cider/Perry.

And, of course, a very special thank-you to Peter for organising the beer and keeping it flowing! It would not happen without Peter!
Alan, Webmaster

More photos are on the 'Gallery' pages.

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