CROWDS are flocking back to the Rotherham Real Ale & Music Festival after a year off made punters thirsty for more — and we helped pick the best of the fest.
I was lucky enough to join the judging panel at Magna last night (Wednesday) to select the Champion Beer of Yorkshire.
A panel of ale enthusiasts and CAMRA members sampled around 80 brews to find the top-tasting beers in seven categories and chose a joint winner for the first-time ever.
Top spot went to defending champion, Two Magpies porter and Triple Point’s Debut golden ale, with my own favourite, Stancil’s ginger pale ale coming third.
Adele on the judging panel
You can try each of them during the three-day festival, which open's tonight (Thursday) at 6pm and features around 160 real ales, 100 of which are from Yorkshire, 20 vegan beers, six gluten-free brews plus a new gin bar featuring 70 gins,
There are also cider, wine, prosecco and cocktail bars plus a host of live music, including a Saturday Soul Train set, an Oasis tribute act and Ukulele Bailey.
The festival also sees the return of our very own Tiser Ale, which proved hugely popular when we teamed up with Chanty Brewery to celebrate our return to the town centre, and an oatmeal stout dreamed up by home brewer Geoff Downing for a contest run in conjuction with the Advertiser.
Festival organiser and Rotherham CAMRA chairman, Steve Burns, said: “For the first-time ever, we have sold-out online with 1,500 tickets being snapped up and three pubs have rung up requesting more tickets.
“Usually, the majority of people just pay on the door — but last week I had to buy in 4,000 more glasses.”
The event was cancelled last year after Steve’s wife and fellow festival organiser Janet died following a short cancer battle.
He added: “I thought after a year-long break we would have to build it up again — but it seems people are desperate for a beer festival.
“The reaction on social media has been like never before — the response has been amazing.”
This year’s festival has a 1940s theme to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and visitors will be greeted by an iconic aircraft in the Magna hallway.
The four large rooms punters can sup in are the Lancaster Bomber room featuring South and East Yorkshire beers; The North East Hurricane bar, featuring beers from Newcastle; The Oxley & Coward Spitfire bar which is home to beers from North and West Yorkshire, plus some guest beers; and the Chantry Boardwalk, with 13 Chantry beers and a host of music inspired by Sheffield’s famous Boardwalk club.
Hundreds of volunteers will be manning the bars over the weekend and money raised will go to Maples Cancer Care Centre.
Since the festival was founded back in 1992 at Oakwood Comprehensive School, it has raised more than £150,000 for local good causes.
Festival roll of honour 2020:
Best mild bitter — Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best
Best session bitter — Sheffield Brewery’s Get Thi’Sen Outdooerz
Best golden ale — Triple Point’s Debut
Best premium bitter — Abbeydale’s Absolution
Best speciality beer — Stancil Ginger Pale Ale
Best stout — Don Valley’s Gongoozler
Best porter — Chantry’s Two Magpies