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Review of Peterborough Beer Festival 2016 

With its boast of being Britain’s second largest festival; Peterborough has been on our radar for quite some time. So it was with high expectations myself, Jon and Brendan set off for the Wednesday session – the festival’s first full day.

Pre-Arrival

This section is included in my review because I wanted to commend the festival webpage on Peterborough CAMRA’s website. All aspects of the festival information were comprehensive and clear – only GBBF comes close in terms of a comparison

Getting there

Peterborough is a major railway hub and is extremely well connected and easy to get to from most places. The excellent festival webpage gave clear directions and used the location’s postcode as a google maps pinpoint so  on leaving the station we relied on a combination of google maps and following people ‘who looked extremely likely to be heading towards a beer festival’ in order to find the venue.  The walk was a steady 15 minute stroll from the station. The only thing which could make this better would be some sign posts from the station.



Entry

Entry was £2 before 3pm and £3 after (£1 and £2 respectively for CAMRA Members). Glass hire was £3 and you could even exchange your dirty glass at the end of your session for a clean one to take home. Programmes were free. Entry also brought us our sole grumble of the day. Bags were searched on entry and unsealed water bottles had to be emptied. Now the day we attended was one of the hottest days of the year and so wanting to be able to fully enjoy the festival we did the common sense thing and brought water with us – Brendan bringing sealed bottles was able to take his through whereas my recycled bottles had to be emptied. Fortunately they were selling water bottles at the venue for a very reasonable 50p but nonetheless this policy was disappointing. I know there are legitimate safety concerns  surrounding unsealed water but I think a common sense approach might need to be developed by CAMRA with perhaps a tap water bottle filling point to keep people hydrated and to fit with CAMRA’s attitude towards responsible drinking.

Venue 

Marquees dominated the Broadland park area with two long marquees joined together by a middle section containing the stage and additional seating. If you are familiar with the GBBF the layout is very similar. The beers were divided between the two long tents (clothing, games and cold food also filled the spaces) and hot food vendors were located outside; as were toilets and fairground rides. There was plenty of space and it was cool enough inside the marquee – when compared to outside!


Food 

Choice was very wide and what you would expect from a big festival. Thai, Bratwurst sausages, cheese, and seafood to name a few. Brendan won top trumps regarding food on the day. Choosing a truly phenomenal burger from a farm based provider before having the foresight to see donuts and beer as a decent pairing!

Beer
The three of us unanimously agreed that this was the best beer list we had seen for any festival so far this year. There was a true wow factor about it. There was a good amount of diversity and plenty of strong ales to try! Most of which were located in one section of the bar. It undoubtedly trounced GBBF’s beer list this year.

An additional point to make is that all beer we tried was in good condition. Credit must go to the beer team who did a great job in keeping the beer cool.

A progressive move from Peterborough CAMRA was to have a KeyKeg bar: the dispense method now recognised as Real Ale by many in CAMRA. It was good to see there was a feature on KeyKeg in the programme. I enjoyed the two offerings from Cloudwater and Magic Rock I got from there. I think KeyKeg is a great idea and as long as it remains a minor sidekick to traditional cask ale at such festivals I think CAMRA should continue to support it.

To see the beers we tried, check out our Twitter Feed.


Conclusion

Peterborough Beer Festival was (minus the water) an excellent experience. We all came away feeling that it needs to become a permanent fixture in our beer festival calendar. If they continue to provide an excellent venue and a truly dynamic beer list then it will be one we aim to attend for many years to come.

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5 comments on “Review of Peterborough Beer Festival 2016 

  1. itsmylife694
    August 29, 2016

    Excellent experience, well organized friendly knowledgeable staff 10/10 🙂

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  2. John Turner
    August 29, 2016

    Agree on all points except:

    1) I think offering roadside catering at a major event just doesn’t cut it these days. I think the choice (and in some cases, the quality) of food available at the beer festival leaves a lot to be desired. It is also shockingly overpriced; £4 for a pastie????

    2) You don’t mention the entertainment. That may be because you didn’t see it. Despite having an excellent stage/light/sound set-up, it’s not used during most of the daytime sessions. Why? Surely there are budding performers queing up for the chance to perform with those facilities and with a sizeable audience. The stage is mostly wasted.

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    • Chris Stone
      August 30, 2016

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comments,

      On point 2 I think you make a totally valid point – such a space at any such festival could be made available to new acts etc.

      With regards to food pricing at captive audience events it is always going to be expensive. Although in my experience, catering prices at beer festivals seem far less exploitative (and better value) than say football grounds or music venues. I think beer festival catering has improved considerably. If anything it would be nice to see more vendors offering proper meals – not just snacks. For example, I think you could buy a Thai curry with rice for a reasonable £6 which makes the price of your pasty ridiculous. Meals at beer festivals are reasonable – snack foods often are not.

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      • Kim Docherty
        August 30, 2016

        The beer fest was the best I have been to in a long time great work guy’s and girl’s keep up the good work

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  3. Steve White
    August 30, 2016

    I’ve been going for 5 years and it’s been almost identical each time. To be that good consistently is no mean feat and it’s testament to the hard work of the volunteers. My main gripe is the overpriced food, £3 for not even a small chips is daylight robbery, but there are plenty of cheaper venues should I have been bothered to walk to the city centre. I was also disappointed that there was no radio being played throughout the day as there usually is.

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This entry was posted on August 29, 2016 by in Beers, Breweries, Days Out and tagged , , , , , , .
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