A nautical theme for next week’s Ipswich Waterfront beer festival

Despite being allergic to alcohol - and no, that’s not code for just being a lightweight - entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE whets your appetite for this year’s CAMRA Beer Festival.

The CAMRA Beer Festival is moving this year, linking up with Maritime Ipswich 2011 to become the first outdoor summer beer festival to be organised by CAMRA members in Ipswich in their 29th year of operation.

“This is the biggest change for the Ipswich Beer Festival since we started it in the Corn Exchange way back in 1983,” says Nigel Smith of the voluntary organising group, Ipswich and East Suffolk CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).

“We’re very excited to be working with the Maritime Ipswich organisers and collectively it promises to be a massive event for the town, with masses of nautical activities along the quayside plus our beer festival featuring a wide range of local and nautically linked beers.”

It’s open from noon until 11pm next Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then noon until 6pm on the Sunday. Better still, it’s free to enter the beer festival, just like the rest of Maritime Ipswich.


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There will be plenty of chances to sample more than 120 British draught beers plus 40 traditional ciders and perry along with Belgian and German beers. With outdoor seating for 300, there’s bound to be a beer to suit even the most discerning palate.

“It’s with many thanks to Ady Smith of the Dove St Inn that we are in this position to take our festival forward in this new format. Back in January, Ady was instrumental in getting us to speak with the Maritime Ipswich organisers,” adds beer festival organiser Gary Hale.

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“We now have a great range of beer, cider and perry on order. So it’s going to be all change for this year’s Ipswich Beer Festival with a new location on the revitalised Ipswich Waterfront.”

One of his most important jobs recently has been organising the real ale list.

It seemed obvious to set a maritime theme, so Gary has sourced many beers from Harwich brewery and also the Nelson brewery in Chatham, Kent. Local brewers also feature, including Cliff Quay in Ipswich and Green Jack from Lowestoft.

Some beers to look out for include Drop of Nelsons Blood (3.8 per cent) from Farmers brewery in Maldon, Essex, an easy drinking flavourful bitter originally brewed for Trafalgar Day; Hot stuff chilli beer (4.3pc), a hot and spicy beer from Red Rat brewery near Bury St Edmunds and also Oscar Wilde Mild (3.7pc), a roasty dark mild from Mighty Oak in Essex, with suggestions of forest fruits and dark chocolate which was also judged as Champion beer at The Great British Beer Festival in London last week.

More than 130 different beers will be available in total - some light and golden, some darker and stronger.

“That is one of the delights of real ale,” says Gary.

“Traditional beers can be very light in gravity as well as very strong. They can be hoppy, pale yellow or golden-coloured summer beers or rich and red or amber in colour or dark and malty. A festival such as ours is a chance for people to try the various styles and see what brew they like best.”

As well as the draught real ales there will be a selection of imported Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian beers; some on draught, others bottled.

Three real lagers will be available from Calvors, a new small brewery that has been based at Coddenham in very recent years.

Brewer Alec Williamson will also be at the festival to help promote his distinctive and tasty lagers, which are filtered but not pasteurised before they are kegged.

There will also be a selection of traditional cider and perry, mostly from the West Country and Wales.

Other people supporting this year’s event include the Ipswich’s Fat Cat public house who have sponsored the souvenir T-shirts and is currently celebrating 15 years since John Keatley bought the pub in Spring Road.

A selection of food vendors will also be offering their wares and a souvenir glass will be available.

Everybody has fond memories of past festivals held in the Corn Exchange, however organisers felt the chance to move the festival to a larger outdoor venue was too good to miss.

Festival-goers can also soon have their say about the move, as the organisers intend to seek feedback on the new format of the event to see how to best take the festival forward in future years.

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