picture from Chester Beer Blog

at Chester Roodee Racecourse

Friday 13th November - Saturday 14th November

With the 2014 festival selling out for all sessions, this year we had to go bigger and better. For the first time we had the upstairs room at the Racecourse for extra seating and allow for a bigger capacity. This meant the beers increased to over 120 casks to cater for all the thirsty punters and despite having over 20 types of cider we still had to restock for the last session! Nearly 2000 people attended over the three sessions with around 8000 pints of real ale being supped. (Special mention must go to CAMRA Potteries branch who brought a coach party of over 50 with some of their members donning racing silks in recognition of the venue.)

Once again we showcased Cheshire breweries with over half the beers coming from within the county. After a marathon judging session, the prestigious Champion Beer of Cheshire competition was won this year by Merlin Brewery from Arclid with their Merlin Gold, and jubilant owners Dave and Sue came along to the trade session to celebrate in style. Tatton Yeti and Bollington Oat Mill Stout scooped the silver and bronze awards respectively.

A great selection of bands (kindly sponsored by Spitting Feathers Brewery) entertained over the three sessions with the ever-popular MGB ending the set. The traditional pub games were sponsored and run with the help of the Olde Cottage in Chester and the unique Chester Bagatelle League. They did a great job with the Bagatelle being a very popular attraction again. There are half a dozen real ale pubs in the Bagatelle league so no excuses not to join!

Merlin celebrate victory

Potteries fancy dress

the cider stand

The cloakroom was in operation this year with staff and volunteers from Richmond Court doing a sterling job. All proceeds from the cloakroom went towards their Christmas plans at the halfway house and volunteers also gained valuable work experience.

Thanks to the generous donations of unused beer vouchers, our chosen charity this year the West Cheshire Foodbank will receive a cheque for 350 shortly. Thanks to all who donated.

On the campaigning front it was great to sign up 30 new members to CAMRA and we hope to see them at some branch activities in the near future. It all goes too quickly after a lot of planning and hard work but it was nice to receive such great feedback from customers. It seems you loved the beers and ciders and really liked the laid-back friendly atmosphere. 

Finally our Oscars thank-you speech :

Wed like to thank you all for coming, all the sponsors (The Chester Standard, Brunning and Price for the festival glasses, The Cellar for the beer vouchers, Spitting Feathers for the entertainment and the Olde Cottage for the pub games). Ticket sellers Old Harkers Arms, the Pied Bull and the Brewery Tap. Thanks to everyone who donated prizes for the raffle and tombola, much appreciated. Thanks to the bands who played for free, if you liked them then please book them. Contacts are in the programme or get in touch with us. Thanks to the Racecourse for being great hosts and especially their hard working staff. Thanks to all our volunteers who worked so hard, it really is great having members from five different CAMRA branches in Cheshire working together to make the festival such a success.

Cheers and hopefully see you same time same place next year!