Party will mark 40th anniversary of Portsmouth's first-ever ale festival

They have exploded in popularity as the types of ale and cider showcased by brewing companies continues to grow.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 6:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 4:39 pm
Drinkers at the 2015 Portsmouth Beer Festival which was held inside Portsmouth Guildhall

Now a celebration is to be held in honour of the very first beer festival that happened in Portsmouth – 40 years ago.

Members of the Portsmouth and south-east branch of the Campaign for Real Ale are throwing a party on Sunday, on the same date as the city’s first big showcase of beers.

Supporters say the ‘Exhibition of Living Beer’ was put on by the Campaign for Real Ale on Saturday, October 16, 1976, at Fratton Park’s North Stand.

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Sunday’s 40th anniversary celebration will be held at The Barley Mow in Southsea from 12.30pm until 4.30pm.

Portsmouth Camra activist Nigel Firth-Penney said it’s great how beer festivals have been able to survive – and keep on growing.

He said: ‘The beer festivals now are a lot bigger.

‘I think there were about 20 to 30 breweries featured at the very first one in Portsmouth, but now there are a lot more breweries and beers.

‘In those days, nearly all the breweries were family-owned, mid-sized regional firms – like Gales – and virtually all of those have now closed down or been bought up by bigger companies like in the case of Gales and Fullers.

‘Now there are more than 1,000 breweries in this country.

‘The choice on offer now is absolutely fantastic.

‘It’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker.

‘So many different styles are now available.

‘Forty years ago, you couldn’t buy a golden ale because they weren’t invented.

‘The other days I was drinking an American IPA, and there are a lot of different ingredients put into beers now, like chocolate and coffee.

‘There’s a fantastic variety.

‘New beers are still coming along, and that’s something that’s happening all over the country.’

Nigel said the local Camra branch hopes to run a summer beer festival in 2017 to make up for the fact it did not hold one this year.

And it’s hoped Camra’s ever popular Gosport Winterfest will once again be staged for punters in February.

Camra members announced earlier this year that their pub of the year for 2016 was The Hole In The Wall, in Great Southsea Street, Southsea.

It’s the fifth year in a row the free house has won The Jim Fox Memorial Trophy prize, voted for by members of the local Camra branch. It also won in 2007 and 2009.

The pub was then put forward to Camra’s Wessex and Channel Islands Region pub of the year awards, 
but lost out to The Bottle 
Inn, Marshwood, Bridport, Dorset.