Cheers! Popular beer festival is a huge hit

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BEER drinkers packed out an historic venue in Portsmouth for the return of a popular festival.

The Portsea Island Beer Festival returned to the Groundlings Theatre over the weekend.

The Portsea Island Beer Festival took place on Saturday afternoon at The Groundlings Theatre Company. ''Pictured is: (l-r) Helen Beevers from Old Portsmouth, Wendy Willcocks from Copnor, Val Bristow and Fred Bristow from Bedhampton and Tony Lush from Copnor, enjoying themselves at the beer festival.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123360-8053)

The Portsea Island Beer Festival took place on Saturday afternoon at The Groundlings Theatre Company. ''Pictured is: (l-r) Helen Beevers from Old Portsmouth, Wendy Willcocks from Copnor, Val Bristow and Fred Bristow from Bedhampton and Tony Lush from Copnor, enjoying themselves at the beer festival.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123360-8053)

Tickets were sold out as punters visited the famous venue to sample a variety of beers.

Malcolm Irving, of Irving & Co. Brewers, who organised the festival, said: ‘It was a celebration of cask beer and cider, both locally and from around the country.

‘We are a relatively new festival.

‘This is only our second year.

‘It was fairly successful and this year we pretty much sold out.’

He added that the Groundlings Theatre makes the festival quite special.

‘This is quite an iconic venue for a beer festival,’ he said.

‘It’s one of the most historic venues in Portsmouth.

‘It’s great to drink traditional produce in a nice old-fashioned atmosphere.

‘People enjoy the choice of beers that you can get.’

The festival, which ran on Friday and Saturday, featured live music and money was raised for The Rowans Hospice, 64th Portsmouth Scouts, Cancer Research and the RSPB.

Speaking at the event, Kevin Doyle, 49, from Milton, said: ‘I came for the love of beer. And with Malcolm being a local brewer we like to support him as much as possible.

‘It’s phenomenal. This is the second year and it’s a complete sell-out.

‘It’s brilliant. It’s a well-attended event.’

‘It’s an absolute joy to see someone like Malcolm who spends days on end crafting recipes to make quality beer. We should be proud of our heritage.’

He added: ‘The venue is beautiful. If you look around you are looking at a place which is steeped in history.’

Alan Walton, 56, travelled from Basingstoke to attend the festival.

He said: ‘It’s wonderful. It’s a proper small community beer festival.’