Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

Setting Up The Festival

Rugby & District CAMRA Beer 35th Festival – how we did it!


I’ve been to many beer festivals but usually just as a customer.  This year I am looking closer at all the work that goes into making it a success and I’ll be helping over the two days. I must start by saying a big thank you to everyone concerned – I never knew it took this much effort!



Monday, the start of set up day with only 4 days for the beer to settle perfectly and they haven’t all arrived yet!  The festival is being held in The Arnold House, Elsee Road for the third time now and this location seems to work well. Last year we had snow, this year it’s 20C outside in February and the beer must be kept cold.  Lots to do on the Monday: the water-cooling circulation system and parts are delivered from CAMRA’s warehouse at St Albans – 5 coolers are needed this time which meant a heavy delivery weighing over a Tonne.  Helpers were needed to fetch the stillage racking which was borrowed from Walsall CAMRA and then start putting it up.  More helpers arrive, with many coming straight from work.  As much as possible is put together Monday night and Tuesday to give enough time for the beer to settle.


We managed the organisation through a festival sub-group.  The to-do list seems endless:  ordering the beer, cider and bottled beers and preparing the beer and cider lists; hiring the cooling system from CAMRA.  Then a focus on organising the helpers for both festival days and for setting up and taking down. We formalised the organisation of helpers this year to help spread the work and know who is turning up when.


But before any of this happens the budget needs to be agreed by National CAMRA, insurance needs to be out into place, arrangements made for use of a night safe at a bank plus a cash float for both festival days. Festival glasses need to be designed and ordered with that all important 1/3pt to line marking, we also borrowed some Great British Beer Festival 2018 glasses.


Then there are the other bits and pieces to be organised with Tombola prizes to be found, many thanks to the pubs we visited who donated for our Tombola, we really appreciate it. Another key aspect of the festival is the Festival T-Shirts which this year are being sponsored by The Crafty Banker – a big shout out to them for this – most appreciated and they are surely going to become a collector’s item.  We also need to get as much advertising as we can across town and more widespread, into local newspapers and wherever else we can.  If we don’t have enough people coming through the doors and drinking enough beer we will not cover our costs.


Tuesday, the beer racking is up, all the barrels are in place and are soft spiled.  Coolers are being tested.  Great news said Kev, this is the first time we have had all the barrels on the rack by midday Tuesday with all the cooling up tested, running and no leaks – a record!


What comes next:  Barrels need to be hard tapped at the right moment. The taps are put in place once they have been perfectly cleaned. Friday the beers will be tested to check they are clear enough to be served.  Once put up we need to be certain we know what each beer is.  Getting details for the beer list is really important – style of beer, description etc. before the programme can be sent to the printers.