Features NCLBeer

Published on April 4, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Spring has sprung it’s festival time

The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is, of course, 42 – if you’re a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy believer, that is. Most of us prefer our 42 to be the third primary pseudoperfect number, or through watching The Kumars at No 42 – and did you know that if you folded a sheet of paper 42 times it would reach beyond the Moon?.

The Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) Newcastle Beer & Cider Festival number 42 is upon us; an opportunity to sample some of the best ales the region can serve up, plus with its Celtic theme this year, offerings from Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

“A special beer selection team has been involved for the first time, rather than leaving the choice to one or two individuals,” says Martin Ellis, the Tyneside & Northumberland Camra branch’s festival committee chairman. “That way the range of beers should reflect the vast array of styles and brands available.

“The team has put a lot of effort into researching the beer scene to find interesting cask beers. For example, the Welsh brewers have gathered together to get them to us and as some of them are very small producers there should be quite a few beers which have never been in the region before.

“A lot of local brewers are interested in supporting us; they see the value in getting the festival to work. We’ve got a lot of commercial support with Hexhamshire Brewery sponsoring the glassware which celebrates its 25 years of brewing. These should become collectors’ items. Great North Eastern Brewing Co is supplying the branded staff shirts, while Hadrian Border, Camerons and Mordue breweries have become beer festival patrons.”

This year’s Battle of the Beers, the hotly-contested annual event that normally comes with a tight brief, has been divided into two categories. More and more participants are taking part and the answer to question 42 will emerge from an American IPA or a wheat beer with some 30 breweries rising to the occasion. The winners of both categories will then go head-to-head. Another first this year is that the beer and cider of the festival will be voted on by the festival-going public rather than by the staff.

The 42nd Newcastle Beer & Cider Festival, Northumbria University Students’ Union, Newcastle. Details: cannybevvy.co.uk

GatesheadRFCGateshead number nine

What initially started off as a small beer festival in 2010 has quickly grown into one of the largest in the North East. Gateshead Beer & Music Festival is now in its ninth year – based at Gateshead Rugby Club in Low Fell, the three-day event raised funds foro the development of the sport.

The organisers try to reach out as far afield as possible with the emphasis very much about building connections with neighbouring communities and supporting local businesses by sourcing their produce and involving local charities.

As always there promises to be a great selection of local ales available – 50 of them from 20 different breweries which include 2018 debutants Three Brothers, Rigg & Furrow, McColls, Saints Row and Twice Brewed, plus the usual wide range of beers from all corners of the UK, totalling over 160 beers plus ciders. The featured region this year is Lancashire with offers from 11 different breweries. www.gatesheadbeerfestival.co.uk

Quite a feat for yard of ale

Surtees Arms & Yard of Ale, Chilton Lane, Ferryhill Station, County Durham DL17 0DH.

Celebrating ten years of Yard of Ale brewing with in-house beers, plus cider and some special guests to the tune of live music and great food. Music in the bar with Signs of Life (folk/rock) on Friday night and Siobhan McCavanagh on Saturday night or if you like it a little quieter, settle in the lounge with its real fire.

Brewery and pub owner Alan Hogg says: “We can’t belive it’s ten years since we decided to set up the brewery. It’s gone so fast. I have to pay a huge tribute to my wife Susan who has been a major part of the whole thing.”

Details: 01740 655 724.


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Alastair Gilmour



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