12th Bexley Beer Festival
Another successful festival at the Old Dartfordians Clubhouse, selling out at 17:50 on Saturday evening.
If you attended late afternoon or after the sell out, our apologies. We started with 85 different Beers,
21 Ciders and 3 Perrys, with an extra 10 beers and some cider waiting in reserve, but still that wasn't
enough; so on Saturday, 8 extra 'bright' beers were obtained from Bexley Brewery (thanks Cliff and Jane).
As usual Friday was the busier day with 1105 people attending. Overall the Festival was visited by 1965
visitors (our highest ever), of which 713 were CAMRA members, 1177 non members and 75 under 26 (who
from free admission at all times).
The first cask to run out was Tarn Hows Blueberry & Vanilla Stout 5.0%; a Cumbrian Oatmeal Stout brewed with
fresh blueberries and vanilla pods, followed by Bexley's Mayplace Spring Ale (non-dry-hopped) 4.1%; a refreshing
best bitter. Third place went to another offering from Tarn Hows, their Beertrix Porter 4.0% served from a wooden
Scotch Whisky cask, and fourth - Westerham Summer Perle 3.8%; a spicy, citrusy golden ale. The first Cider/Perry to
fall was Devon's Lyme Bay Cider; apples blended with apricots and called Sundown.
Beer of the Festival, by customer's vote, with 166 votes cast, was the Tarn Hows Blueberry & Vanilla Stout 5.0%;
our complements to Kelly and Alastair. Second, all the way from Lossiemouth in Scotland, was Windswept's interpretation
of a German Hefeweizen called Weizen 5.2%. Third place went to Newcastle upon Tyne's Errant brewery with their
Comanche Porter 4.5%, brewed with Brambling Cross and New Zealand Dr Rudi hops.
First place in the Cider/Perry category was Saxby's Plum 3.8%, an easy drinking combination of apples and sweet plums
from Northamptonshire. In second place was Gloucestershire's Beard & Sabre Berrymaster 4.0%; a light raspberry and
redcurrant cider. The Sundown came third.
This year there was a change of organizer; Alan Boakes stepping down (after creating this monster in 2006), and
although his advice and immense help during setup/takedown was invaluable, our new 'boss' Andy Wheeler hasn't
changed much; proprietor of the Broken Drum micro pub in Blackfen and Branch Treasurer, he has learnt (like the
rest of us) over the years that we have a very popular and successful Festival. One change of course was the use
of CAMRA's cooling system as we felt that last year, particularly on Saturday, the beer was beginning to get a
little too warm. Last year, after so many customers and with the extra beer, a larger marquee was needed, so an
extra panel was added.
On behalf of the Bexley Beer Festival Committee, our grateful thanks go to our sponsors: Westerham and Bexley
Breweries for the glasses (and for their wonderful ales) and J D Wetherspoon's for the staff t-shirts (produced
as always by Smart-T's). Thanks to our main suppliers: Flying Firkin (Nina & Adele), Avalon Wholesale (Arthur),
Townhouse (who obtained our selection from Cumbria), Fetch the Drinks (the Cider/Perry), Kent (good reliable
beer as always), Twickenham (a welcome return after a few years), Brew Buddies (local, unfined and interesting)
and Beerblefish (supplying both the strongest and the weakest (Holy Smoke 3.1% and Imperial Mild 8.4%). A
special mention to Tankley's, our new local brewery, for our Beer Festival Special Bierfeest Vennoot, brewed in
collaboration with Beerblefish and Nick Hair (our under 26 and social secretary CAMRA member), a Chocolate
Hazelnut Porter, and his English Ale; expect to see more of his fascinating brews in the months ahead.
We again extend our thanks to Old Dartfordians for allowing us to produce this festival; Keith Holbrook, the
steward, and his team, Tim Geoghegan, who sorted all the financial issues, and Steve and company for the catering.
This Festival is staffed and organized by unpaid CAMRA members from branches far and wide, who deserve the utmost
credit for their dedication and hard work; without your contribution Bexley Beer Festival would not happen. Thank You.
Now our thanks to the organizing team who work wonders behind the scenes preparing the Festival for your enjoyment:
Vic (our Bar Director since the Festival began), Pat (Site Manager plus H&S Officer who does all the practical jobs
like getting the glass washer to work), Roland (Staffing Officer extraordinaire), Alan (Door & Glasses Manager -
you'd never get in otherwise); Nick Hair (Cider Bar Manager - as he ordered them along with the Cumbrian beers - did
you like the choice?). A special mention to Iain Sutherland, CAMRA's Cooling Trainer, who came down to give us a hand,
likewise Joe Mist from Canterbury, who popped up to help. Jonathan Cowie for his work with the local press, Chris
Woodhams for tidying up our Chairman's logo, and Karl Husher for transporting the bar back and forth. Heron Press,
Upper Belvedere, for printing the flyers via Andy Wiseman, and Jen Ward for her help with our banner. And so to our
new Organizer Andy: not only does he run a Micro Pub, but he also moved house just before the start of set-up. The
good news is we think he enjoyed it as he has agreed to carry on for 2018, and we, the staff, are very pleased that his
first attempt went so well.
If you were watching the cricket and wondered about the result, Dartfordians CC 2nd XI won the toss and elected to bat,
making 191-6 in their 40 overs , however Sidcup CC 3rd XI made 192-7 with two balls to spare , winning by 3 wickets.
PLEASE REMEMBER - It was great to see so many new volunteers (not that this undervalues the support and help from the
old stagers), but without new volunteers there may not be a festival to attend in the future.
DATES FOR YOUR CALENDAR: NEXT YEAR'S FESTIVAL 3rd - 5th MAY 2018.
And, of course, a very special thank-you to Peter for organising the beer and keeping
it flowing! It would not happen without Peter!