Beer tree just right for merry gentlemen

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Mine's a pint please, vicar! It's like something from a bizarre dream, but one church has got into the festive spirit by making a Christmas tree that is mounted on a beer barrel and has ale flowing 24 hours a day.

Situated at the front of the church, the wacky Christmas tree - complete with beer mats for decorations - has been a real talking-point at St George's Church in Waterlooville.

It is one of 23 colourfully decorated trees that have made up this year's Christmas Tree Festival.

While the Mothers' Union group opted for a blue theme, the men of the church - called St George's Men - based their tree on their favourite tipple.

'We love real ale,' said Father Mike Sheffield.

'The men of the church meet every month and we sometimes go on brewery trips.

'It's something the men do after meetings. We all go off to the pub and have some beer.'

The tree was the brainchild of Colin Monk, who said it took two hours to make.

Mr Monk, 62, of Durley Avenue, Cowplain, said: 'It was quite simple to make. It was just a case of drilling some holes in the cask and feeding through some plastic tubing.'

However, those hoping for even merrier church services may be disappointed as it's not real beer. 'Unfortunately it's not proper beer,' said Mr Monk.

'It's only coloured water. It's not another miracle unfortunately!'

Father Sheffield said: 'As it's flowing 24 hours a day, beer would just get too sticky.'

The festival has featured an array of thought-provoking trees.

Schools from across Waterlooville decorated their own tree using the story of Jesus as inspiration.

J Edwards Funeral Directors, based in Waterlooville, wowed visitors with a stunning Christmas tree that was all in white.

But it has been the beer-flowing tree that has caused the most interest.

Father Sheffield said drinking alcohol may be more Christian than it appears.

He said: 'It's very unlikely that people in biblical times would drink water.

'It's very likely they would have drunk wine rather than beer, though.

'Wine was all they could drink that was safe, as alcohol killed all the germs.'

The Christmas tree is now destined for Mr Monk's house.

'It's going to be a pity to have to take it down,' added Mr Monk.