I know that I keep banging on about how good the pubs in Gloucester are, but I can’t help myself. In fact I’m going to do it again, and it won’t be the last time I’m sure!
Real ales, and the pubs that sell it, are definitely enjoying a resurgence in the city, and beer festivals are becoming ever more popular.
The flagship Gloucester CAMRA Beer Festival took place back in April and was hugely popular, showing what an appetite there is for decent beer in the city. But often the best beer festivals are smaller, more intimate affairs in a pub.
There was one such event just a couple of weeks ago at the Fountain in Westgate Street. The Fountain, which claims to be one of the oldest known sites connected with the brewing trade in Gloucester, dating its origins back to at least the time of Henry III, has long been a decent pub.
However, since the end of last year when it was taken over by Ben McCullough, it has got even better, with an excellent range of regularly changing ales. Over the early May Bank Holiday weekend Ben decided to go one better and hold a beer festival to celebrate his birthday. And what an excellent affair it was: more than 30 real ales plus ciders plus live music. I was there on the Friday night and enjoyed it immensely – hopefully it will be an annual event!
And now we have another superb beer festival to look forward to, with another of Gloucester’s best pubs, The Pelican, hosting one on 6th-7th June.
The Pelican is also a very historic pub; it dates from 1679 and claims to be constructed using timbers from Sir Francis Drake’s ship the Golden Hind. Unlike the Fountain, however, The Pelican has not always been a good pub. Until recently it was not a very auspicious place then, in 2012, its fortunes changed when it was taken over by Wye Valley Brewery and Landlord Michael Hall was installed. Since then The Pelican has become a Mecca for real ale drinkers, winning this year’s Gloucester CAMRA City Pub of the Year award.
This beer festival is an annual event, with the inaugural event held last year to commemorate their very successful first year in the city. Last year’s event was outstanding, so the pressure is on to make the second festival bigger and better. There will be three bars, between them serving 32 real ales as well as ciders and perries. Michael prides himself on this being an event to showcase the very best of British beer: no lager!
The event is on from 11am to 11pm both days. The beer list will be released during the last week of May which will be available in the Pelican and on their Twitter and Facebook pages. There will also be live music and food from nearby Peppers Cafe in the daytime and a BBQ in the evening. Where better to spend a (hopefully) sunny weekend?
And that’s not the end of it – later in the year, at the end of July, it’s the Gloucester Blues Festival; one of my favourite weeks of the year, where many of the finest pubs come together to host excellent live music accompanied, of course, by the now legendary Cafe Rene Beer Festival.
No doubt about it, Gloucester is the place to be for the discerning drinker…