A great event, but ale was so strong it made my eyes water

There was a time when, if you mentioned you were going to a beer festival, the image it conjured up was of middle-aged, pot-bellied, balding men wearing garish t-shirts, standing around a dodgy hall supping the ale kegs dry and then heading home three sheets to the wind.

Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 6:01 am
This is what Ashley has got to look forward to when she tackles a Tough Mudder

But times have changed. These days it’s a much more upmarket affair, as I discovered as I worked my first-ever beer festival at the Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham.

It was a pleasurable experience to welcome some serious ale and cider connoisseurs and foodies through the doors to try some good local beers and listen to some great music from the likes of talented songstress Hayley Fisher and the awesome band that is Bemis.

They entertained the crowd with some fantastic, toe-tapping tunes, whilst brews on offer had some wonderful names such as Hedge-hop, Swift One and, what seemed to be the most popular, Vibrant Forest’s Flying Saucer.

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I have to say I’m not really a beer fan, but I was curious to try a rather dark and menacing-looking salted liquorice ale which was going down a storm with the seasoned drinkers.

All I can say is that it’s definitely an acquired taste. It was so strong it made my eyes water and immediately had me rushing to the nearest loo!

The rather potent oatmeal stout had a similar effect...

This stuff was so strong that I think it could have another use – as a drain cleaner.

No, ale really isn’t my thing. I’m more your classy cider drinker from a pint glass (with a straw, of course).

But I really enjoyed the day chatting to folks who were clearly having a good time.

Well done to Hannah who organised it – and although it was really about celebrating our local beers, I have to say that the food on offer, provided by Cackleberrys Coffee House, was outstanding.

It’s the first time I can recall actually salivating at the sight of a delicious array of pies, quiches, soups and cakes.

I’m already looking forward to the next beer festival and if someone wants to put on a cheese and wine festival in the meantime, then count me in. Cheers!