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The 29th Festival will be held on Fri 22nd - Sat 23rd March 2019 once again at Brighton Racecourse.

[This article was originally written for the Sussex Drinker magazine]

With record attendances at every session (except Friday night when we are always at capacity), and with more beers and ciders available (and drunk) than ever before, it can be truly said that this year’s Sussex Beer & Cider Festival exceeded all expectations and was an enormous success. Over 3,800 people attended in total (over 500 more than last year’s record) and drank 218 cask beers, 35 ciders and perries, numerous bottled beers and a large amount of local fruit wines. For the first time ever all tickets were sold for Saturday night. As the beer and cider was running pretty low by this time, thanks to that great band – The Rhythm Method – for keeping our customers well and truly entertained. I must mention Karl Bashford who also did an excellent job on Friday night playing music we wanted to hear and at the right volume.

Despite increasing our beer order by 35 casks and trebling the number of ciders and parries, by closing time on Saturday night there was virtually no beer and cider to be had. I think that there were only about a dozen casks that had any beer left and we were down to our last cider.

Probably the most successful innovation this year was the separate Sussex Bar downstairs in the Banqueting Suite at Hove Town Hall. For all our sessions, this Bar attracted a crowd of very happy drinkers and at times appeared to be busier than the Main Bar in the Grand Hall. Speaking to a number of our customers and to our Sussex Brewers, all said how much they liked the idea of the Sussex beers being together and something to be repeated next year. I must mention the St Patrick’s Stout from the Fallen Angel Brewery. For the first time I believe, we had a beer selling out during the Friday lunchtime session!!!

At the risk of this report sounding like an Oscar’s acceptance speech, there are a number of people who I would like to thank. Without their hard work, the Festival would not be held. Firstly, the unsung heroes who do our set-up and take-down. This is very physical work but everything went to plan, a brilliant effort. Next, all our volunteers who helped during the festival. We had more helpers this year which enabled us to give an even better service to our customers and meant more breaks allowing our helpers to enjoy the beer more as well.

One of the great successes was the quality of the beer, from the range of beer ordered to how it was kept. Many thanks to Roy Bond, our Beer Organiser for such an excellent selection which has received many accolades from our customers and to Pete Thompson, our Cellarman, for ensuring that the beer was in great condition and at the right temperature throughout the event. I must mention Jackie Johnson for the organising of the cider – another great job done.

Lastly and by no means least, I would like to thank all the people who helped in the preparation of the Festival and who had to suffer the long meetings. At least I held the meetings in The Romans so that we had some good beer to drink during our discussions.

Thanks also go to our pub outlets who helped to sell the tickets. Great work by Andy from The Gardeners at Lewes, Matt and Karen from the Evening Star and Jeremy from The Sir Charles Napier in Brighton, Keith from the Buckingham in Shoreham and Michelle and Bob from the Selden in Worthing.

As many of you who were present during the Friday lunchtime session will realise, we were invaded by several different groups of media. We had local radio, freelance radio, internet and podcast plus Meridian TV News Team. After being interviewed by all these people, I have decided to retire from Beer Festival Organising and to seek a career in Entertainment. Therefore, I would like to wish my successor, Mike Lockyer, every success for the 17th Sussex CAMRA Branches Beer & Cider Festival to be held at Hove Town Hall on 8th, 9th and 10th March 2007.

Peter Betteridge
Festival Organiser, 16th Sussex Branches Beer & Cider Festival




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