Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kingston Beer Festival, May 2013

We attended the Kingston Beer and Cider Festival on May 18th, for the Saturday afternoon session. We ended up not staying very late, because they were running out of beers very quickly, and the food had already gone by 18:00 and we were hungry. This was a pretty small festival, held in the Kingston working men's club, and it had that feel to it: a very large venue but a very small bar, not terribly comfortable, although it had the virtue of not being too crowded even as peak time. The first three members of staff we encountered on entering each made insulting or patronizing comments to women, which was a sadly old-fashioned approach to a beer festival (especially given the fairly large numbers of women present at this one). Otherwise it was friendly, if small, disorganized and with abysmally poor food supply.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reading Beer Festival, May 2013

We attended the opening night of the Reading Beerfest, Thursday May 2nd. Despite having lived in Reading for almost a decade once upon a time, I'd never been to this legendary festival before, and wasn't expecting it to be so spectacular. Unlike most of the beer festivals we've attended recently, the Reading event was held in a large marquee in the King's Meadow field, with outdoor seating areas as well as the huge bars inside. On scale, as well as in range and supply of real ales, this festival rivals even the GBBF, and certainly stands head and shoulders over any of other the local festivals we've attended. The atmosphere was relaxed, lively, and friendly, never becoming unpleasantly crowded despite the huge number of people attending. There was a range of entertainment and food, including several outside food tents, again immeasurably superior to the canteen food or burger vans offered by smaller festivals. And the beer range was astounding: hundreds of LocAles made up over half the length of the main tent, with national beers continuing onto the overflow bar around the corner (along with country wines, ciders and perries, and international bottled beers).