Beer Festival Round up 2009

By Kevin Folwell
Posted: 28/11/2009


FESTIVAL ROUND UP, AUTUMN 2009   by Kevin Folwell


Autumn is traditionally the busiest time of year for the festival goer with September and October producing a glut of events country wide and closer to home. Locally, Rugby beer hunters have had an abundance of new ales to try at events held in town or within a short distance.


1) September kicked off with the 19th Harbury Festival. An excellent event run by the enthusiastic Heart of Warwickshire Branch. The weather always seems to be fine every year and this can be a real bonus considering the limited floor space inside. The bar area can get crowded at busy times but off peak this is a very sociable event.


2) Following closely was the 2nd Bulkington Festival held at the Weston Hall Hotel and organised by volunteers from the church of St. James. A friendly ‘do’ serving 45 mainly local beers and ciders with entertainment from local musicians. All proceeds went to the church restoration fund.


3) The same week saw the 16th Tamworth Festival managed by the adventurous Chris Fudge. This is an annual pilgrimage of mine and is a ‘tickers’ paradise. 105 beers were on display this year and 80 of them I’d never seen before. Chris spends months working on a beer order that includes lots of first brews, festival specials and rarely seen beers. A MUST if you want variation.


4) The Autumn edition of the Victoria Inn’s quarterly events gave Nick Pugh a chance to have some fun. He called this one the Stock Exchange Festival and spent the whole weekend putting beer prices out at bargain prices, but only if you were quick enough as his ‘sales’ lasted for just a few minutes. It was a good laugh but kept you on your toes if you wanted a few bargains.


5) The Raglan Arm’s latest event featured 30 ales from the Cumbria region. The range included some very unusual beers sourced by Steve and his band of helpers and collected direct from the various brewers. Personally I was pleased to see such a diverse list as I’d not seen 24 of them before. This included 5 new breweries. Keep it up chaps.


6) A trip out to the Engineers Arms in Henlow with the Merchant’s crowd followed. This was to celebrate tenant Kevin’s  “20 years at the Engineers”. Half tent, half pub, this annual event showcased 100 beers over the festival week.


7) One of the festival circuits oldest events occurs in October every year. Bedford can easily be reached by train and this year celebrated it’s 32nd birthday. Although it advertised 111 beers, only about two thirds were available on the night I attended. I can never agree with organisers holding back beers this way. When they’re ready they should be served and when they run out they’re gone. End of.


8) Back locally the Merchant’s Inn finished October off with a bang staging their 12th event. This festival featured 100 ales, unheard of in Rugby before and quite a challenge. Organised as usual by ‘Back  Bar Ted’ (easily recognisable as he was normally accompanied by a certain Sarah Hughes!). I do applaud Scott’s policy of serving thirds allowing adventurous drinkers the opportunity of trying a good selection of beer and still have the ability to stand!!