13th Bexley Beer Festival

When we arrived Monday morning to unload our CAMRA HQ van loaded with the stillage, cooling equipment, bars and other paraphernalia necessary to provide a Beer Festival, it was raining and had been for some time. The marquee was up, but full of ponds, with the water at the boundary edge swamp like. Thank you to all the volunteers who braved the storm to unload and put the stillage together. Tuesday saw lots of water, but no rain so Beer, Cider & Perry could be loaded on to the stillage. Again thank you to those who turned up to help. Wednesday saw more rain as the inside of the marquee slowly turned into a Beer Festival and final decisions of positioning were left till Thursday. Thanks to the groundsman, the water had almost dried out in the marquee and we were able to open at 2pm. A week earlier than the past few years, normally after the first May Bank Holiday, the sun shone and people were able to sit outside.
Opening earlier on Thursday rewarded us with 408 customers. As usual Friday was the busier day with 1008 people attending. Overall the festival was visited by 900 non-CAMRA members and 714 CAMRA members, plus 97 under the age of 26 whom we let in free, so a total of 1711; our second highest total.
Now at Dartfordian's Community Sports Club, War Memorial Clubhouse, Bourne Road, Bexley for the  sixth year running, lasting two and a half days (opening Thursday at 2pm) and with 93 (plus 10 spare) different Beers and 23 Ciders and 2 Perrys available for the customers to drink, we added another 5 beers, courtesy of Bexley Brewery, and 4 ciders. Although we did not sell out and had 32 beers and 5 ciders still on when we closed at 8pm, it was still a success.
Beer of the festival by customer vote was Iron Pier Brewery's "Bitter" (4%) followed by Brew Buddies  "Mosaic" (4.2%) and Ascot Brewery's "10th Anniversary Imperial Breakfast Stout" (8%) joint second. Cider/Perry was won by Harry's (of Somerset) "Haymaker" (6.2%) with West Croft (also Somerset) "Janet's Jungle Juice " second.
The first cask to run out was "Bitter" (4.0%) from Iron Pier of Gravesend, followed by a Mild from the Broken Drum Home Brew; "Gaspode Mild" (3.4%) named after a dog in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of books (a small terrier-like mongrel dog who has the ability to think and speak like a human being. Gaspode is named after "the famous Gaspode", a dog who, upon his master's death, stayed at the graveside howling until he died (possibly because the gravestone was on his tail)" - Terry Pratchett.
Again there was a great selection of dark beers; 13 milds, 11 porters and 10 stouts along with 2 wheat beers, a honey beer and a ginger beer. If we awarded a prize for unusual names then perhaps "ThaIPA", "Dark Side of the Toon" or "Franc in Stein" would have won.
Our Chairman and Staffing Officer, Roland Amos, agreed to have his quite substantial beard shaved off for our featured charity, raising in total, along with customer donations from unspent beer cards, £551.  A cheque was presented to the Mayor and Mayoress, Peter Reader and his wife Irene, for their chosen charity; the Bexley and Dartford Branch of Parkinson's UK.
Our grateful thanks go to everyone who supported and sponsored us; Westerham and Bexley Breweries for the glasses, J D Wetherspoon for the staff t-shirts via Smart T's, the Door Hinge, the Hackney Carriage, the Kentish Belle, and the Penny Farthing, four of our Micro Pubs, for sponsoring our Beer Cards. Nina and Adele at Flying Firkin for their help and patience in sorting our beer list. Keith Holbrook, Club Steward, for all his help and advice (who was presented with the Bexley Club of the Year award at the festival by our Chairman Roland Amos). Karl Husher for transport duties.
You may have noticed (and a lot of you did) that our old stalwart Vic Beale was missing as Bar Director. Well, a beer festival means spending a long time on your feet and Vic is a perfectionist, he had trouble last year and being of the "if I can't give 100%" had chosen to step down. Much missed by both staff and customers, we wish him well.
This festival was staffed and organised by volunteers of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) who gave up their free time to make it such an enjoyable event, indeed without whom it would not exist, thank you for your help. Great to see so many for setup/take down.
Compliments to our new (still a lot to learn) Bar Manager John Connor, Site Manager Pat and Door/Glasses Manager Alan, Adrian for our Tombola and Membership, Anna who encouraged people to join CAMRA. The boss, Mr Andy Wheeler, who after 2 years is getting the hang of it ....
P.S. And so to the cricket on Saturday. This year Dartfordians 1st XI were in action against Chislehurst & West Kent CC. Darts won the toss and elected to bat, scoring 231 in their 50 overs (including 53 extras with 29 wides). Chislehurst started badly, losing their first 5 wickets for a measly 6 runs, before being bowled out for 27 in 20.1 overs.

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.

Look out for next year's event, possibly the 9th - 11th May 2019.

2018 beer festival logo.jpg

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