Stevenage Beer & Cider Festival – report

The 3rd Stevenage Beer & Cider Festival was a great success as we welcomed over 1700 visitors who enjoyed an excellent selection of beers and a great atmosphere.  The festival, held at Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre between 1st and 3rd of February, saw Moor’s Hoppiness and Arbor’s Simcoe voted the joint winners of the Beer of The Festival by festival-goers.

Both awards will be made at the Moor Tap House, Bristol on the 7th April.

The festival was officially opened by the editor of the Comet newspaper, Nick Gill and Festival organiser Jon Kirby on Thursday evening. After the official opening, there was a number of presentations. The North Herts branch of CAMRA has recently surpassed one thousand members. To mark this milestone, the 1000th member Phoebe Rayner from Stevenage was presented with a certificate and a specially engraved glass.

The Eric Watson Memorial Award was presented to the recently retired landlords of the Half Moon in Hitchin. Howard Phillips and Wendy Mower were recognised for their services to real ale, during their tenure the Half Moon was transformed into a multiple award-winning pub.

A presentation of £645.85 was made to Herts Vision Loss from the collections at previous Stevenage and Hitchin Beer Festivals. The beneficiary of the 2018 collection was the Stevenage Community Trust and, by the end of the festival, over £400 had been raised for this worthy cause.

There was a choice of 96 real ales available covering a wide variety of styles, and more than 6000 pints of real ale were drunk during the festival. Along with the cask ales, the International bar proved as busy as ever, with an exciting range of bottled and draught beers from around the globe. Customers voted Druid by Bohem brewery their favourite international beer. This year there was a selection of 31 Ciders and Perrys which proved popular with visitors, as did the Key Keg bar run by Jolly Good Beer.

The festival is organised by volunteers from North Herts CAMRA, with the support of Stevenage Leisure Ltd and the Comet, and would not be possible without the support of these organisations and the event sponsors. The festival T-shirt was sponsored by Our Mutual Friend in Stevenage, and the token card was sponsored by the Holitas, pharmaceutical consultants based in Hitchin. The glasses were sponsored by Nene Valley Brewery and also carried a message of support for the campaign to Save Our Station Pub in Knebworth. Thanks to all the individuals and businesses who sponsored casks.

Our biggest “thank you”s go to the festival-goers who made the event a success and also to the CAMRA members who volunteered to help set up, run and take down the festival. Without the volunteers’ hard work and dedication the festival would not be the success that it is. The next festival organised by North Herts will be the Hitchin beer festival on 7-9th of June, for further details see the article in this magazine.

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