IT WASN’T just the tipple lifting punters’ spirits at two beer festivals, as warm, sunny weather made its debut in the south on Saturday.
More than 400 crafty beer fanatics flocked to Portchester Community Centre for the 16th annual Beer Festival.
While at the Wickham Centre, between 700 and 800 people attended the Wickham Charity Beer Festival, set up to raise funds for four different groups – and were spoiled with 49 beer choices.
Ticket holders kicked back at Portchester Community Centre’s butterfly garden, tasting any one of 13 cold beers, ciders, ales or a glass of bubbly from the prosecco cart.
Centre manager Carol Mertens has been running the event for three years. Carol explained that, this year, the team were slightly concerned about ticket sales.
However, once the event had officially began, residents swarmed to the centre.
She said: ‘I haven’t seen anything like it!
‘There really is something special about a beer festival. When you enter the hall there’s this wonderful smell and a really welcoming vibe.
‘All of these people share a common interest. You can see people socialising, sat in the sun and bobbing their heads to the music.
‘They enjoy discussing the beer with their friends.’
Each year, a high number of local businesses continue to sponsor the event’s kegs.
Carol added: ‘The support from local firms is absolutely phenomenal. I honestly cannot thank them enough because they keep us going.
One of the beers, Captain B, was a rum beer concoction created by a brewer called Malcolm as a dare.
Beneficiaries of the event included the Wessex Cancer Trust and Community Centre itself.
Organiser of the Wickham Beer Festival, which has now been running twice a year for 10 years, is Mike Betts.
He said: ‘We raise funds for local charities and groups and clubs around Wickham.
‘We try and get all the beers from local breweries but we do go further afield into Somerset.
‘It’s now a well-known community event – the majority of our punters come from within a 12-mile radius.
‘This year we’re raising funds for the Wickham Scouts, the Wickham Football and Cricket Club and the local rifle club based here at the centre, plus the local Rowans Hospice Group.
Between 700-800 attended the event and local businesses paid £70 to sponsor barrels of beer.
The money raised will be divided up between the charities.
Mike added: ‘About £2,000 will go to each charity, usually, so we’ll see how much we raise this year, I’d hope it’s more than £5,000.
‘The event has been brilliant, the sun has made it all the better.’
The charity beer festival also took place on Friday.