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Real ale festival a barrel of laughs

More beers and ciders, live music and food at family-friendly event

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth


01635 886637

Real ale festival a barrel of laughs

MORE than 4,500 beer-lovers descended on Northcroft Playing Fields on Saturday for the 14th Newbury Real Ale Festival. 

Many people came prepared for the forecasted downpours, bringing large umbrellas, gazebos and small tents, while others sought shelter from the showers in the beer or cider tents. 

There were 174 ales and 137 ciders available on the day, with some as quirky as Clan MacFannie’s Irn Bru cider and Goat’s Milk ale. 

Musical entertainment began at 1.15pm, with the band Hickory Smoke, and continued until 9pm, with the line-up of eight acts including Torn Off Strips, Ricky and the Gamblers and Hells Bells. 

The event was family-friendly and refreshments include fish and chips, a hog roast, tacos, Tex Mex and a tuck shop with soft drinks.  

The event, organised and staffed by volunteers from Media Fusion and Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club, is sponsored by 45 local organisations.   

Media Fusion director David Whittingham said: ”It was absolutely amazing and the weather held off, with a few showers. We are really pleased on how the event went, with lots of good feedback on the day. The bands went down very well.”

The founder of the Newbury Real Ale Festival and member of Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club, Simon Hannam, said: “I started it 13 years ago and we had 18 beers and 400 people. Now there are more than 170 beers and 130 ciders.”

The beer tents, hog roast and tuck shop were all manned by Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club volunteers and all ages were involved.

The average age of the volunteers on the hog roast was 12 and 15 to 16 on the tuck shop.

Mr Whittingham said: “We want to thank the sponsors and volunteers from the Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club, as without them we wouldn’t be able to put this event on.”

Carolyn Wilson and her husband Steve have attended the festival for the past four years and it inspired them to start the Boxford and Welford Beer Festival, which raises money for the Boxford Masques and the Boxford Cricket Club.

Mrs Wilson said: “Obviously, this is bigger than the Boxford beer festival and we can’t run it on the same scale. But there seem to be more people we know here than last year. 

Ben Thompson added: “This festival is easier to access than most festivals and the music is great.”

Mr Wilson said: “My method of drink selection is to start with ones you know and after a few, when judgment is fuzzy, choose names like horses.” 

Mark and Theresa Whyborn from Thatcham  attend every year if they can. Mr Whyborn said: “It is bigger than last time and there are more beers and more ciders this year.”

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