Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival 2018 – The One That Nearly Got Away!

FB-Banner-IMG-9138[This article was written for the Gloucester CAMRA Beer Festival Website]

There are some events that mark a milestone in the year: events that you look forward to from one year to the next; events that you plan your life around so that you don’t miss them.

For me and many beer and cider drinkers in the Gloucester area – and indeed for some from far flung corners of the country and even the world – one such event is the annual Gloucester CAMRA Beer & Cider Festival

It is back again for its sixth year on the 27 to 28 April, and is once again at the historic Blackfriars Priory in Gloucester.

However, this year it almost didn’t happen.

In the beginning

2013 beers

The first beer festival took place on 22 to 23 March 2013 and, if we are honest about it, it wasn’t an auspicious start.

You’ll notice that this was quite early in the year, and it was freezing. I mean REALLY cold.

That, however, did not seem to deter the punters: they were queuing around the block.

The problem was, all the wise heads had said a beer festival in the city wouldn’t work. Why would people pay to get into a beer festival when they were surrounded by pubs that you can get into for free?

The wise heads were wrong.

We only had around 35 beers on and they quickly ran out on the Friday night. We also ran out of festival glasses and programmes very early on.

Somehow, thanks to the quick emergency planning of the beer festival committee, the help of local brewers and suppliers, and the support of local CAMRA members, we managed to struggle through and survive.

After some deliberation it was agreed to go ahead with a second event the following year. Lessons were learnt. We catered better for the number of attendees, we ordered more beers and ciders, and it was slightly later in the year so the weather was kinder.

If nothing else, the first year acted as a talking point. People gave us the benefit of the doubt and came back. They weren’t disappointed.

Since then the festival has gone from strength to strength, quickly building to its current state of providing over 100 beers and more than 30 ciders.

Getting slicker

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With each beer festival the planning and organising got slicker.

The early festivals had a large planning committee but, like all committees, they often disagreed. This slowed things down and led to confusion.

Over the years the committee has whittled down to a very small core team who know exactly what they are doing. Venue hire, beer and cider ordering, event layout and racking, pricing and a multitude of other decisions are taken quickly and easily.

This small committee is, of course, supported by an army of local CAMRA volunteers to actually set up and run the event, but we are largely happy to be minions, simply realising the vision of the committee.

Near disaster

The down-side of a small committee is the heavy reliance on a small number of people.

They are all volunteers, and all have full time jobs – finding time can be difficult.

It also turned out that the chosen dates for this year’s festival clashed with an important rugby game: Gloucester playing Bath at home.

This is potentially good news for Saturday evening attendance at the festival, but not so good for the rugby mad committee members – not to mention CAMRA volunteers – who now have divided loyalties.

It looked like this year we just weren’t going to have enough people to make it work, so it was decided to cancel the festival.

We’re back!  

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Everyone was disappointed by this decision.

If we cancelled the festival this year, there’s a good chance it would never happen again.

Although there is no shame in bowing out after five successful years, it seemed like a pity.

So a renewed call went out for volunteers, to see if running the event was still viable.

As ever, the local CAMRA members came up trumps and the event was back on.

Those that are left of the core committee have a big task on their hands, especially as the decision was made fairly late in the day for planning such a major event.

Some of those of us on the fringes have stepped up our efforts to provide more help with planning and publicising the event and, critically, covering the important matter of ordering the beers and ciders. You can be assured that this year’s range will be as diverse and interesting as always.

And Wye Valley Brewery have once again stepped in as main sponsors for the event.

Support your local beer festival!

If you are a fan of the beer festival, you can also do your bit to help:

  • Tell all your friends about the event – keep up to date from our website
  • Print out a poster and put it up at work or in your local pub
  • Follow and Re-Tweet our Twitter Feed
  • Follow and share our Facebook posts
  • If you are CAMRA member, contact us to volunteer to help out: we need people to help with set up before the event; help with running the event and help with take-down afterwards.
  • If you are not a CAMRA member, then Join! Then volunteer as above
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Should Craft Beer be more Affordable?

A gin and a flight in TANKThere has been much debate about the price of craft beer recently.

Although some craft beer is undoubtedly very good, I generally don’t tend to concern myself with it too much. The whole concept of craft beer seems to me to be too nebulous, often pretentious and, ultimately, not that important.

However, I’ve found the recent debate about making craft beer more inclusive interesting. As usual, I don’t have any clear answers or insights, but I do have some thoughts I’d like to share. Continue reading

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Have an Accident and Reduce Your Insurance Premium

cars-in-an-accident-car-insurance

Picture for illustrative purposes only – my accident was much less messy than this. Picture from https://www.theaa.com/car-insurance/advice/what-to-do-after-a-car-accident

This wasn’t the blog I was expecting to write.

I was expecting to have a good old moan about insurance companies and the cost of insurance in general, but things took an unexpected turn.

I have just renewed my bike insurance and, following an ‘incident’ last year, I was expecting to get gouged, but somehow I ended up saving money.

Who could have predicted that? Continue reading

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Old Wives Tales Aren’t Always Wrong

12479938-toothacheThere are a lot of home remedies and old wives tales out there.

Name an ailment, any ailment, and someone will have a never-fails cure that they heard about from their mother, grandmother, ancient aunt or local witch-doctor – someone with dubious medical qualifications at best.

Of course they are all nonsense. Ridiculous. You’d have to be a fool to put any store in them.

And then you have an ailment and suddenly they seem less ridiculous. It has to be worth a try, right…

Toothache has to be right up there with the ailments that will drive you to such cures, and guess what – I have toothache. Continue reading

Posted in Life beyond the blogosphere | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dry January vs. Tryanuary

Tryanuary-Logo-500x500Happy New Year!

We are well into January now, so it’s probably too late to say that, but this is my first blog of 2018 so give me a break.

How are your New Year resolutions going?

It is that time of year when we make promises to better ourselves, become more healthy and generally improve our lives.

One of the ways people tend to do that is to give up drink for a month in what has recently become known as Dry January. Or more frequently #DryJanuary. Continue reading

Posted in Pubs & Drinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Whirr

I can’t really explain where this came from, but the idea amused me for some reason….

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Norfolk: Pubs, Windmills and Churches

On our now not-so-recent holiday to Norfolk, one of my favourite places was probably Thurne.

I have blogged previously about my lack of enthusiasm for the Norfolk seaside and my enjoyment of Caister Castle, but now we headed inland to spend a few days in the Norfolk Broads. Continue reading

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