Beer festival runs out of ale

AN INAUGURAL beer festival in west Suffolk proved so successful it ran out of beer half-way through.

Laurence Cawley

AN INAUGURAL beer festival in west Suffolk proved so successful it ran out of beer half-way through.

The brainchild of the Old Cannon Brewery in Bury St Edmunds, Sunday marked the opening of the first ever Bury Bank Holiday Beer Festival.

But within just hours of the festival opening, the pumps started getting dry and by 9pm, festival organisers had served up 1,000 pints of beer and the casks were empty.

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As a result, the brewery had to turn to its own bar to keep festival-goers happy.

The situation meant that yesterday entry to the festival was free of charge and, rather than a line up of prized cask ales, visitors were treated to a barbecue and relaxing music.

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Organiser Joe Kennedy, who is brewer at the Old Cannon Brewery, said: “I got 18 different beers up, three of which were our own, and they all went. When we do this again I will be looking for 30 or 40 casks.

“I suppose it was an unrivalled success and we've already got talks about a second Cannon festival.

“With the rain on Sunday, we wondered at first whether anybody would come. But by 2pm it got busier and busier and busier and by 9pm we had to say thanks very much for coming and we opened our normal bar.”

More than 300 people attended on the first day alone which was far more than anticipated.

Mr Kennedy said: “As soon as this event is over we will start planning another one. We haven't got a theme yet for a second one but I don't think people really mind about having a theme, they just seem to like having beer festivals.”

Yesterday, visitors got the rare chance to see Mr Kennnedy brewing beer in the large stainless steel vessels at the centre of the bar.

“Normally, the Old Cannon is closed on a Monday to brew, so this was a rare opportunity for visitors to see the brewing kit in action,” Mr Kennedy said. “Our normal bar was open and we opened it up for free. Given the rush of the first day we were aiming for a nice chilled Bank Holiday Monday. And if people needed somebody to blame for the lack of ales, I said it was my fault and I got it wrong. We were simply too successful.”

Beers for the event were drafted in from a number of award-winning breweries from across the county including Oulton, Green Jack, Green Dragon, St Jude's, Bartram's Brewery and Red Rat. At the next event, beers from beyond the county boundary are expected.

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