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Cheers! Shrewsbury-brewed ale named favourite at CAMRA beer festival

By James Vukmirovic | Shrewsbury | Dining out | Published:

A Shrewsbury-brewed ale has been named favourite tipple at a CAMRA beer festival.

The Summer Festival of Beer was held last weekend from July 11 to 13 and organised and run by Wolverhampton Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). It was the 44th edition of the Wolverhampton Beer Festival, and the fourth year it had been held at the Newhampton Arts Centre, having previously been based at the Wulfrun Hall.

Festival-goers were asked to vote for their favourite drinks from the weekend and plumped for Professor Hick from the Salopian Brewery, with the following named the best of the event:

  • Cask beer of the festival: Salopian Brewery - Professor Hick
  • Keykeg beer of the festival: Fownes - The Elephant Riders
  • Cider of the festival: Hurst View - Jibber Jabber

Neil Hodgkiss, a member of Wolverhampton CAMRA and the editor of the programme, spoke about how the event benefitted from the venue.

Festival Organiser Neil Hodgkiss and Tom Fownes from Fownes Brewery with some of the beers on offer at the festival in the main hall

He said: “We used to be based up at the Wulfrun Hall which, of course, we can’t use at the moment because of the current refurbishment work, but we’ve found a brilliant home here at the Newhampton Arts Centre.

“We love the venue and they couldn’t do enough to help us.

“The marketing from the venue itself has been absolutely wonderful and they’ve really pushed this event.

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“There’s a wonderful video on Facebook at the moment where they’ve walked from Queen Square, down to here, sped up to be super-fast and to show how close to the city centre it is, so that’s the type of thing the centre have done for us.”

Honest Dave's tombola helped to raise funds for Black Country Women's Aid

The festival, staffed by around 80 CAMRA volunteers, featured a wide range of drink options, with more than 70 cask ales, nine Keykeg beers, cider and perry, as well as a wide range of international bottled beers and, for the first time, a gin and wine bar.

Live music also entertained crowds for the first time and a stall by Tony’s Delicatessen was set up in the main hall.

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For Neil Hodgkiss, the new additions to the festival were a way to help attract a more varied crowd.

“You often see people in their 40s plus here, but this year we’ve had a better mix," he said.

“By introducing gin and wine for the first time at the festival, we’ve had a more varied crowd.

The main hall at the Newhampton Arts Centre was the main place to sit and enjoy the festival

“It’s all about opening peoples eyes to it and getting away from the stigma of the old man with the beard and beer belly, because it’s not about that, it’s just about a very good product, recognising it as a very good product and just trying it."

The three days of the festival saw more than 1,000 people attend and more than 4,000 pints sold - both an improvement on the 2018 festival.

It also helped to raise £1,100 for Black Country Women’s Aid, the chosen charity for the festival and one close to the heart of festival organiser Charlotte Coxon.

“What we try to do is look at charities that are local," she said.

"I’m an ex-social worker who has worked with women in social refuges and children who have all sorts of difficulties, so I’m very pleased that it’s this charity we are doing this for”.

The 45th edition of the festival is set to take place in July 2020.

James Vukmirovic

By James Vukmirovic
Community Reporter - @jamesvukmirovic

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Wolverhampton. Contact me at james.vukmirovic@expressandstar.co.uk.

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