Last call for CAMRA’s Members’ Weekend, AGM and Conference. This will be held from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 April at the Winter Garden in Eastbourne (BN21 4BP).
Go to here for details. Volunteers to help are still needed.
KIDBROOKE BEER FESTIVAL
Eric Camfield, the festival organiser, has let me know that Des de Moor, the celebrated beer writer, will be visiting the festival on Friday 27 May to talk to visitors about beer and pubs and to sign copies of the latest edition of his book, London’s Best Beer Pubs and Bars. Des will be there from 2pm.
PIG’S EAR FESTIVAL FINALLY HAPPENS!
The 37th Pig’s Ear Beer Festival, postponed from 2020, finally took place in the Round Chapel, Hackney, from 30 November to 4 December 2021. Organised by CAMRA’s East London & City Branch, the festival had London’s largest range of cask ale in 2021, despite running at a reduced capacity because of Covid. 10,000 pints were sold, from a range of 175 casks. Cider, perry and a range of British and international key kegs were also available. For the first time a live and interactive beer list was available online, with drinkers able to scan a QR code to view the list on their phones.
Since the festival moved to Hackney, charitable donations have been made to the good causes chosen by the current Speaker of Hackney, who this year was Councillor Michael Desmond. A grand total of £803 was donated to the St Joseph’s Hospice and the Hackney Empire.
The Beer of the Festival was Redemption’s Victorian Mild, which was a collaboration with Kernel Brewery.
Pig’s Ear will return (fingers crossed) for the 38th time from 29 November to 3 December 2022; keep an eye on www.pigsear.org.uk and future editions of London Drinker for news!
ELAC CATCH UP WITH THEIR PRESENTATIONS
CAMRA’s East London & City Branch have been catching up with some presentations which had to be delayed because of the pandemic. On 19 January, the venue was the Pembury Tavern in Hackney (E8 1JH) for a double presentation. The pub was the winner of ELAC’s Community Pub of the Year award for 2020 while the pub’s owners, Five Points Brewery, were presented with the silver award in the porter category for the London and South East Area round of CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain competition for 2019.
Those in the photo are Vincent Stops (former BLO for Five Points), Greg Hobbs (director of brewing at Five Points), Pete Walker general manager of the Pembury), Dawn Marks (ELAC Pubs Officer) and Andy Kinch (ELAC Branch Secretary). With thanks to Ryan Hess of Five Points for the photo.
The ELAC Cider Pub of the Year for 2020 was the Cock Tavern, also in Hackney (E8 1EJ). The presentation took place on Tuesday 25 January. The photo is of Colette Goulding, ELAC’s Cider Officer, and Joel Wood, the pub’s manager. With thanks to James Watson for the photo.
The ELAC Pub of the Year for 2020 was the Northcote Arms in Leyton (E11 4EL). The presentation was made on Tuesday 22 February and pictured are landlady Tuesday Roberts with the certificate and Dawn Marks (ELAC Pubs Officer).
For the month leading up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Northcote presented a month of Beers brewed by brewsters. The photo shows Tuesday with the impressive list of beers available. With thanks to Esme Bradbury for both photos.
Finally, following the recent restoration which has returned the pub to its former Victorian glory, the Boleyn Tavern in Upton Park (E6 1PW) clearly remains on CAMRA’s list of Historic Pub Interiors. To celebrate this, Andy Kinch presented a certificate to Robert Thomas, left, the owner of both the Boleyn Tavern and the Remarkable Pubs company, who operate the pub.
BRANCH PUBS AND CLUBS OF THE YEAR
As we went to print, details were starting to come through of this year’s CAMRA branch awards.
Bromley branch: Pub of the Year is the One Inn The Wood, Petts Wood (BR5 1LA) and the Club of the Year is the Orpington Liberal Club (BR6 0RZ).
East London & City branch: Pub of the Year is Ye Olde Rose & Crown, Walthamstow (E17 4SA) and the Club of the Year is the Leyton Orient Supporters Club (E10 5NF).
May will, once again, be CAMRA’s Cider Month. As well as London’s own cider and perry festival on 2 April (see below) please help Britain’s orchards by visiting the growing number of pubs selling traditional cider and perry in London. There will also be new content about cider and perry on CAMRA’s Learn & Discover site.
ALE RETURNS TO THE RAILS OF EPPING FOREST
The historic carriages of the Epping Ongar Railway will again host delighted drinkers, with the first ale train of 2022 scheduled for the evening of Saturday 23 April. With connecting bus service from Epping Underground station, this is the only ale train within reach of London using an Oyster card. While the full range of beers and ciders has yet to be confirmed, to kick things off, the railway plan to order from breweries in Essex. It has been decided to postpone the return of the real ale festival for a further year and we expect the next joint CAMRA & EOR event to be held in the summer of 2023. Additional trains are scheduled to operate throughout 2022, including an ale train event on Saturday 16 July, which would usually be when the festival would be held. For more information and tickets, visit www.eorailway.co.uk.
Speaking as someone who has done it, running a beer festival can sometimes be a thankless task. Spare a thought for the organisers of the Burton Beer Festival, CAMRA’s Burton and South Derbyshire branch. The festival was due to be held in March. In January, although restrictions generally were being lifted, their venue decided to continue with the stringent ones that they already had in place, particularly those relating to the permitted number of attendees. Consequently, the organisers cancelled the event. The cancellation however brought about a social media campaign which led to a councillor intervening and the venue easing their restrictions. By this time however, all the preparations – beer, catering, entertainment etc – had been cancelled and the organisers felt that it was too late to reverse their decision. Although they originally had received messages of support, some abuse was received over the decision not to reinstate the event. Branch chairman Stewart Gibson commented, “Please be kind, none of us get paid for this and it’s completely out of our control.”
Both the Cambridge and Reading CAMRA beer festivals (scheduled for 23 to 28 May and 23 to 26 June respectively) have been cancelled. Both have experienced insur-mountable supply chain issues.
OFF THE BUSES
Sadly, the very popular Isle of Wight Classic Buses, Beer and Walks Weekend, a collaboration between the IW Bus Museum and IW CAMRA, has been cancelled permanently. The event had grown from 3,000 visitors in its first years to 20,000 when it was last held in 2019. The existing organisers, all volunteers, are no longer able to manage the event, with planning now taking more than nine months. The IW Bus Museum will however still be holding weekend events in May and October in the Ryde area.