Sample Some Ales At Ealing Beer Festival

The 23nd Ealing Beer Festival under review

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Ealing Beer Festival

Images from this year's event



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There's so much ale to pick from at this year's Ealing Beer Festival, that it's no wonder they've got a 100-yard bar.

More than 200 real ales and cider are on tap at the 23nd Ealing Beer Festival, which runs until Saturday (July 7).

There's also a foreign bottled beer bar featuring beers from Germany, Belgium and Holland. And this year the festival includes more than 20 English wines from four vineyards.

All the beer is on sale in one huge marquee - a change from previous events. Entrance includes a programme with beer 'tasting notes' to help you make your choice, and the ales are organised alphabetically.

The bars are staffed by volunteers, who will help you make your choice, and even give you a sample before you part with your money.

The beers are on sale in 1/3rd, 1/2 and 1 pint measures. The 1/3rd option is great for sampling several ales, and prices were around £1-£1.20 for a 1/3rd.

I started with a half, which went down quickly as it was (miraculously) a hot night. I was advised to try Verbeia Pale Ale (3.6%) from Wharfebank brewery in Pool, West Yorkshire. This wasn't too strong, and was a light, refreshing start to my evening.

I then moved onto something from further afield - a half of Orkney Best (3.6%) from the Highland brewery on Orkney. This was another refreshing beer, but with a bit more of a peaty flavour.

It was now time to draw the line at half pints, and I was on third measures for the rest of the evening. But I had a taste for Scottish ale now, and Harviestoun's Number of the Beast - deliberately brewed at 3.666% - had a lovely citrusy flavour.

But I soon found I was in citrus beer heaven when I spotted Lemon Dream (4.6%) from the Salopian brewery in Shrewsbury. As a bit of a contrast after that, I then opted for an ale brewed with root ginger - South Sea Spice (3.9%) from Bowman in Hampshire.

My favourite beer of the night - which I later voted for - was the distinctive Bearly Literate (4.5%) from the Beartown brewery in Congleton, Cheshire. This had more malty flavours than those I'd previously tried.

I also tried beers from Ambleside, Lancashire and Kent. But there are more local beers on offer, with Fullers/Gales having five beers available, and other London breweries including Wimbledon's By the Horns brewery.

The festival isn't just about beer though, with a food tent offering a good selection including fish and chips, pies, chilli, lasange and more. There's also another large tent with live music on Friday. It's "family day" on Saturday. And if it does rain, the three marquees give plenty of space for shelter.

The festival is open from 12pm to 10.30pm on Thursday and Friday, 12pm - 6pm Saturday. It costs £3 for non-CAMRA members and £2 for concessions. There is free admission for the armed forces, the emergency services, those in the licensing trade, and the NHS. CAMRA Members are free before 4pm, otherwise £2. Remember to bring along proof of ID.

Sue Choularton

July 6, 2012