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This weekend the famous Waterloo Beer Festival returns – we find out more from organiser Kate

12 months ago

This weekend the famous Waterloo Beer Festival returns – we find out more from organiser Kate
Credit: Waterloo Beer Festival

This weekend’s Waterloo Beer Festival has become a real community event

It was launched in 2010 but, since then, Waterloo Beer Festival has been growing bigger and getting better.

This year there’s a collection of around 100 real ales, ciders, perries and gins on offer at the festival which takes place over four days from Thursday to Sunday, but it’s more than just the drinks sourced from microbreweries and distillers from across the UK that makes this event just a little bit special.

“The idea is that people will come and try a really wide variety of beers and more that they wouldn’t normally be able to get in their locals,” says event manager Kate Jones. “So we try to mix it up with some local breweries and maybe some of their experimental beers or new beers, as well as sourcing from suppliers you wouldn’t find around here, those further afield.

“So we just have a really interesting range of beers for people to try.”

And she adds: “It’s not about seeing how many pints you can drink so they are all served in half pint glasses, because we want people to try different styles, and have a real tasting event to see what they like.

“There’s a different cider range as well, and we have added a gin garden in the last few years for those who don’t like beer. It’s lovely because we have seen it go from a predominantly male orientated festival to seeing more women coming and a younger audience come in too.

“You don’t have to be a beer afficionado to enjoy it, just someone who likes trying something new, who loves a good atmosphere, and who loves to be entertained.”

Waterloo Beer Festival was launched by Mark Hensby who sadly passed away six weeks ago, and Kate adds: “We’ll certainly be raising a glass or two to Mark and paying tribute to him.”

Organisers will be providing tasting notes about the beers and breweries, and offering their top tipples to try, like:

Beer - Waterloo Beer Festival
Credit: Waterloo Beer Festival

Glen Affric – Lake Wanaka 4.5% – a juicy, hazy pale base hopped with NZ hop staples: Nelson Sauvin, Motueka and Wai-iti for an overwhelming hit of tropical fruits, lime, white grape, and lemon peel.

Tiny Rebel – Oh Apricot 4.6% – Apricots can be enjoyed in many ways. They can be eaten fresh, baked in desserts, used in juice, preserved in jam, or thrown into a mash tun with some cashmere and lotus hops to create an intensely smooth and creamy apricot milkshake IPA.

Titanic – Vienna Lager 4% – Released in September 2022, this is a golden coloured lager style ale with a malty base and lightly hopped with a hint of citrus. Smooth, soft mouthfeel.

All tickets include entry and entertainment for the session purchased, as well as a souvenir half pint glass and taste notes. Halves of real ale are priced at £2, payable with tokens bought inside the event, and other drinks are available with cash.

But it won’t just be drinks on offer. There will be live music at the sessions from contemporary bands – ‘except on Friday, when it will be music free for those who prefer their pint in peace’ – and food from Big Bear Catering with pies, hotdogs, toasties, and other street food.

It’s also a chance to raise money for great causes like Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation who will be having collections and raffles, and Old Christ Church – where the beer festival is held in Waterloo Road – which will be having its own raffles and welcoming people to its fascinating building.

Kate goes on: “The location itself is worth a look. It’s a beautiful old church, with an amazing high ceiling and the most fabulous stained-glass windows. I’m in awe of the building, it’s just breath-taking.

Waterloo Beer Festival
Credit Waterloo Beer Festival

“I have been to a lot of beer festivals in warehouses and they are great, but this is just an amazing venue and the atmosphere is always fantastic with a really eclectic mix of people. It gone from being just a beer festival to a real community event. It’s just lovely.”

Waterloo Beer Festival is on from Thursday, June 29 to Sunday, July 2, with tickets available here.

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