Nearly 800 drinkers downed more than 3,000 pints at Saturday’s Fleet Lions Beer Festival, helping make it the most successful yet.
To celebrate its eighth year, the Lions picked the pirate theme Pieces of Eight and there was grog aplenty for thirsty revellers.
Beer festival organiser Dan Franklin was delighted with the response.
“We sold out of our 38 barrels of beer and 50 gallons of cider, with the cider gone by 8pm,” he said. “We had around 770 punters in all, 555 of whom were in the evening, which was busier than ever before. We even had to turn people away.
“There was a really interesting, varied selection of beers this year, which was commented on by many of the visitors, as was the well kept nature of it.”
This year’s festival on August 9, again held at The Harlington in Fleet, featured two sessions – one at lunchtime, from 11am to 3pm, and one in the evening, from 5.30pm to 9.30pm. There were 38 different real ales from 15 breweries, including those from the best local micro breweries in the area. Locally produced ciders also went down well.
In a unique twist, all six of the Monster Raving Loony Party’s range of Co‘ALE’ition ales were on sale together for the first time.
Monster Raving Loony Party leader, and Fleet resident, Howling Laud Alan Hope officially opened both the afternoon and evening sessions and was MC for the event, which featured live music from the Stomping Nomads and the Fleet Booze Hound Blues Band.
There was also a barbecue, with all the meat supplied by Clark Butchers of Fleet, and fresh rolls from Morrisons.
Fleet resident and CAMRA member Derrill Carr said it was one of the most enjoy-able beer festivals he had ever attended.
“It was brilliantly planned by the Fleet Lions organisers and the execution on the day was perfect,” he added.
“The Harlington once again proved to be an excellent venue and the sunny weather on the day was very helpful.
“The popularity and growth of real ale is remarkable as this event proved, once again, with lots of ladies and younger people in attendance, helping to destroy the myth that ale festivals are only for guys with beards who are over 50.”
Mr Carr said the real ales were served in "excellent" condition by "very knowledgeable" volunteers.
“All the real ales sold out by the time the festival closed at 9.30pm,” he added. “The evening session was a complete sell-out by 7.30pm and it was a one in, one out policy for the last couple of hours.”
Mash brewery’s Amber ale was voted best beer of the festival. A special commemorative glass, designed by Fleet artist Andy Johnson, was also given to every drinker.
Organisers are still counting the proceeds from this year’s festival, which will be donated to Sailability, but they hope to have raised in excess of £5,000.
Based at Frensham Ponds, the charity gives disabled people the chance to sail and offers a range of boating opportunities, from therapeutic to competitive sailing, all within a safe, caring and social environment.