REAL ales and live music went down a storm with punters at this weekend’s first-ever Portsea Island Beer Festival.
Beer lovers raised a glass or two as they sipped brews laid on by Irving and Co Brewing, Gosport’s Oakleaf Brewery and The Havant Brewery at The Groundlings Theatre on Friday and Saturday.
The two-day bash, set up by Irving and Co Brewing, saw 46 real ales and 12 different ciders go through the pumps inside the historic theatre, in Kent Street, Portsea.
Visitors to the afternoon and evening sessions were also treated to performances from Portsmouth folk singer Shep Woolley, The Blendworth Brass Band and Gosport rockers The Teapot Junkies.
Rod Elliott, 64, from Hawthorne Grove, in Hayling Island, popped by the festival on Saturday and fell in love with its spread of golden ales.
He said: ‘It’s been a fantastic day.
‘The venue is very atmospheric which is going down really well with people.
‘More people should visit the theatre here because it’s a great little piece of Portsea history.
‘I’m a regular at beer festivals, and all credit to Malcolm Irving for setting it up.
‘The weather makes it even better.’
Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) volunteer Mel Fry, 30, from Romsey, added: ‘I usually help out at beer festivals but I wanted to come to this one to try out the range of local beer.
‘The ales are gorgeous and it’s fantastic how the event supports local breweries.
‘It’s been very well organised.’
Fellow ale lover Paul Collins, 53, from Highlands Road, Fareham, said: ‘It feels really intimate.
‘The venue isn’t too big, and it isn’t too crowded like at some other beer festivals. I’ve had a great time tasting some fine brews.’
Just under £4,000 was raised from the event, which will go towards building a new scout hut for 64th Portsmouth Scouts Group, based at St. Swithen’s Church, Waverley Road, Southsea.
The cash will also be donated to Rowans Hospice in memory of Robert Batchelar, the former landlord of the Red White and Blue pub, in Fawcett Road, Southsea, who passed away under the charity’s care last year.
Malcolm Irving, 39, owner of Irving and Co Brewing, said: ‘The Red White and Blue used to be my local so giving some of the proceeds to Rowans in memory of Bob seemed right.
‘The whole weekend has been fantastic.
‘Sales have exceeded expectation and folk from all walks of life have come through the doors.
‘It’s all been about great company and great beer.’