Thousands drink to success of Chippenham Beer Festival

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Jim Faulkner and Annabel Weston at Chippenham Beer Festival Jim Faulkner and Annabel Weston at Chippenham Beer Festival

Nearly 1,900 people enjoyed a selection of 100 beers and 30 ciders and perries at Chippenham Beer Festival at the weekend.

The 23rd annual festival was a special one for its chairman, Gareth MacDonald, being the first at which his 18-year-old son Chris was able to help out serving.

“I’m really proud,” said Mr MacDonald, who is also the South West regional director of CAMRA.

“Chris was born on my 30th birthday, and now he’s turned 18 it’s very special for me to have him working here, after I’ve organised it for 22 years.”

Son Chris said: “I’ve been coming to see it being set up since I was eight, so ten times now. It’s very different to see it in action.”

Nearly 10 per cent of the UK’s 1,200 breweries were represented, and Goose Eye brewery’s Over and Stout, from Keighley in Yorkshire, was judged beer of the festival.

Local cider from the Handmade Cider Co in Slaughterford proved particularly popular, with the winning cider Spring Surprise selling out in a record two hours.

Annabel Weston, 24, of Springfield Buildings, Chippenham, said: “I don’t like beer but I’m impressed by the range of ciders.

“We’ve been made to feel very welcome and they’ve given us good recommendations.”

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Her partner Jim Faulkner said it was a great way to celebrate his 33rd birthday, and even had Happy Birthday played by traditional folk outfit Mrs Peverill’s Favourites who were performing on Saturday.

Mr Faulkner said: “My aim was to sample 33 beers but I had to stop after four.

“There are some spectacular beards on show here.”

One beer-loving couple came all the way from Ayrshire in Scotland for the event and said they would be coming back again.

Mr MacDonald said: “I really want to pay tribute to the people of Chippenham. We had 800 people walk out of here on Friday night and there was no trouble.

“It shows drinking in a responsible manner is a good thing and that’s what CAMRA supports.”

Wiltshire Police confirmed they did not have to deal with any issues relating to the festival, held at the Olympiad.

Donated unused beer tokens raise funds for the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and St John Ambulance.

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