Beer was flowing and toes were tapping at St Mary’s stadium for the return of the annual Southampton Beer Festival (June 8-9).
The festival organised by the South Hampshire branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is now in its 22nd year and this is the second year it has been held at St Mary’s stadium. It seems that music helps beer go down and Saturday’s session saw local skiffle heroes, The Junco-Shakers raising the roof with their rootsy rhythms.
All festival goers received a commemorative glass to taste samples from 98 beers and 30 ciders. This year the design of the glass featured a Spitfire fighter aircraft with beer barrels strapped to it’s wings as a tribute to the WW2 RAF Pilots who flew supplies of ale to thirsty British troops in Northern France following D-Day.
Highlights of the weekend included the presentation of a CAMRA regional award to Nigel and Charlotte Johnson of Meon Valley Cider who were presented with a CAMRA South of England award for their dragonfly cider described as:
“Honey coloured, wildflower nose with almond notes, hints of bittersweet and a lingering dry finish. Using locally sourced Hampshire and Sussex apples and bittersweets from the West Country.”
“It’s a fulfilment and achievement as far as were concerned” said Nigel Johnson “To make something that people actually like was tremendously fulfilling.” Charlotte Johnson told Eastleigh News that CAMRA’s festivals were “tremendously important” to small producers “Winning an award like this one raises your national profile within the industry” she explained. Deric Payne, Chair of South Hampshire CAMRA, agreed, saying that the branch held three festivals a year and that these provided a “vital showcase” for new breweries.
Over 2,000 people were expected to attend the event.