HUNDREDS gathered yesterday to celebrate tasty local tipple.
Scores of drinkers united in Emsworth for the return of two much-loved events as part of the fourth British Food Fortnight.
On North Street, the village’s second annual Beer and Cider Festival was in full swing, as visitors hopped along to Emsworth Community Centre to give a host of locally-sourced drinks the taste test.
Among those soaking up the flavours on-tap was 57-year-old Derek Bond from Portsmouth.
He said: ‘It’s great to be able to come and enjoy a new drink or two with family and friends.
‘I’m quite passionate about beer. For me, the dark ales on offer here have really stood out – they’re most enjoyable.’
More than 300 people attended the festival on Friday night and Saturday morning, smashing last year’s tally – even with two more weekend sessions to go.
Organiser Mark Ringwood, 63, said: ‘It’s been very rewarding to see so many people here. To run this event, we’ve put the research in to offer people a wide range of drinks to choose from.
‘In turn, we’ve had about 33 different beers and eight ciders on display. There’s been something for everyone.’
Just a short walk away at Hewitt’s, on South Street, wine lovers gathered to taste and learn more about products from four vendors – including local favourite Hambledon Vineyard, from Waterlooville.
Partners Anna Harvey and Morris Hickey were among those enjoying the many flavours available to try.
Mr Hickey, from Emsworth, said: ‘It’s so fantastic to see so many English wines on offer – that’s what got us so interested in the fair.
‘As you might expect, the English sparkling wines are simply fantastic. We’re having a wonderful time.’
Proving to be popular among the revellers was Hambledon Vineyard’s Classic Cuvée NV, which has been known to wow wine experts in the past.
Holly Simpson, 25, events assistant at the firm – which has a 20-year plan to sell 1m bottles every 12 months – said: ‘A couple of years ago, our Classic Cuvée came out on top in a blind-tasting against some huge champagne houses, including Veuve Clicquot and Tattinger. It’s a very high quality product and it is probably our best seller.’
Passing on his knowledge was Hermitage Cellar wine proprietor Alistair Gibson.
As one of the organisers of the Emsworth British Food Fortnight, Mr Gibson said of the fixture so far: ‘We have tried to put on as broad a spectrum of events on as possible. Food is a language everyone speaks and we’ve really put out something for everybody in our programme this year. It’s going fantastically well.’