Booze lovers’ delight as Portsmouth theatre beer festival returns for its eighth year

June Christie, Ric Spencer, Bruce Christie and Chris Stevens - all from Southsea - at the Portsea Island Beer festival. Picture: Sarah Standing
June Christie, Ric Spencer, Bruce Christie and Chris Stevens - all from Southsea - at the Portsea Island Beer festival. Picture: Sarah Standing

AN HISTORIC city theatre was packed to the rafters as a much-loved beer festival returned.

Hundreds enjoyed the eighth Portsea Island Beer Festival at the Groundlings Theatre over the weekend. 

Malcolm Irving from Irving a Co Brewers Ltd, outside the Groundlings Theatre. Picture: Sarah Standing

Malcolm Irving from Irving a Co Brewers Ltd, outside the Groundlings Theatre. Picture: Sarah Standing

Boasting a programme of more than 50 beers and ciders, the spectacular welcomed booze-lovers over four half-day sessions from midday on Friday until 11pm on Saturday. 

Valerie Bristow, from Bedhampton, went along with a group of pals – having enjoyed the Emsworth Beer Festival just a fortnight previously. 

‘We’ve been to this particular festival many times before and we love it,’ the 68-year-old said. 

‘What makes it so good is the atmosphere and how easy it is to make new friends. 

From left, William Maley, Stuart Hill, Dave Gibson, Andy Luker, Kevin Gosney, David Munday and Alan West.'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6373)

From left, William Maley, Stuart Hill, Dave Gibson, Andy Luker, Kevin Gosney, David Munday and Alan West.'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6373)

‘Not only that, but we love supporting small, local breweries. They make such good beer it’s only right to come and taste them.’

Among the roster of top tipples at the festival were local offerings from Emsworth Brewhouse, Southsea Brewery and Urban Island, based in Portsmouth. 

Sharon Heather from North End returned to the event as a matter of ritual, sipping on her favourite spiced rum ale, Captain B, brewed by Portsmouth firm and main festival sponsors Irving Brewers and Co. 

The 59-year-old said during Saturday’s afternoon session: ‘My friends and I go to a beer festival every month and this is on our list every year – we haven’t missed one since it started.’ 

Volunteeer Brian Delvin 'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6357)

Volunteeer Brian Delvin 'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6357)

On her choice of drink, she added: ‘It’s light, it’s refreshing – it’s brilliant.’ 

With its selection of 43 beers and 10 ciders, the Portsea Island Beer Festival also brought with it a showcase of live music. 

Punters indulged in grooving to the tones of Dicey Riley, the Blendworth Brass Band, the Shake Ups and Harbour Pipes and Drums across the festival’s two days. 

Their tunes, and the vast array of drinks to choose from, were a winning combination for 2018, said the festival’s organiser Malcolm Irving – director of the city brew house of the same name. 

From left, Les Pascoe, 65, John Chamberlain, 62 and Jamie Braithwaite, 48, all from Gosport'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6379)

From left, Les Pascoe, 65, John Chamberlain, 62 and Jamie Braithwaite, 48, all from Gosport'Picture: Sarah Standing (180772-6379)

‘Numbers this year have been significantly up on last year,’ he said. 

‘What’s so uniting about these events is that many people are interested in beers in different ways.

‘People like the traditional varieties, others like the craft-style brews, and both can appeal to men and women of all ages.' 

He added: ‘To go along to a nice historic venue like the Groundlings Theatre and get some lovely beers from all around the country, and some lovely music, is really enjoyable and I think that’s why people must keep on showing up each year.’ 

With hundreds of festivalgoers paying £10 per session to attend, proceeds will go to five good causes. 

Those chosen for 2018 are charities Rowans Hospice, Orca, The Rainbow Centre, Motiv8 and Orchid.