Saturday, 20 October 2012

Festival fever

In the past, CAMRA seemed to have a monopoly on beer festivals but, more recently, they seem to have been springing up all over the place, run by pubs and a variety of independent organisations. In one sense this has to be seen as a good thing in widening the appreciation of beer. But, on the other hand, isn’t it a further symptom of beer drinking increasingly being seen as a “special occasion” activity rather than a regular part of everyday life? And I know some people for whom beer festivals have largely replaced routine pubgoing.

It used to be thought that attending a beer festival would have a wider effect in informing people’s choice of beer in their local pub. But, more and more, it has become an end in itself. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were people who happily jugged back craft ales at the Stockport beer festival, but in their Robbies’ local continued drinking Carling or Guinness.


  1. It's a special event because of the range of beers available. I like the idea of keeping a myriad of ales as a special event, either from a beer festival or from the famous multi ale pubs. The friends i see at festivals but never the pub, mostly work colleagues, have reached a family based stage of life where going to the pub routinely is not an option. Without special events, they wouldn't be drinking ale out of the house at all. Saying a wide variety of ales should be normal does nothing to encourage street corner boozers from making an effort to serve one or two.

  2. CAMRA should be worried. A huge chunk of its income comes from beer festivals and for many years it has had a near monopoly on the large, well run festival. Events like the IMBC could challenge that dominance partly because the new wave of keg beer producers will want somewhere to promote their products.

  3. CAMRA have the big advantage of unpaid volunteer labour, though.

  4. Birkonian - I don't see why CAMRA should be remotely worried. Is there any evidence that attendance at CAMRA festivals is dropping because of other festivals? No, I thought not.

    Mudge - I don't think you are sayijg anything here that is new, im=ndeed while you make a fair point it is really a case of stating the bleedin' obvious don't you think?

  5. The expansion of beer festivals beyond the CAMRA sphere is bleeding obvious, but the idea that "beer festival" as a special drinking event is replacing regular pubgoing isn't.

  6. Martin, Cambridge21 October 2012 at 11:05

    Good point.

    I would guess half the folk I work with in Cambridge only drink (excessively)real ale at the local beer festival in May, and only go to a pub at Christmas. I then get a full list of the tiny micros beers they drank, none of which will be seen in the county's pubs.

  7. A regular event replacing pub going? Maybe. More likely there are so many a beer festival is no longer owt special, an event.

  8. Well, considering all the (unpaid) work we've put into this event, we regard it as rather special.


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