The winter version of Britain’s biggest beer festival lands in the city of a thousand trades, as Birmingham gears up for the Great British Beer Festival Winter, taking place at New Bingley Hall between Tuesday 4th and Saturday 9th February 2020.
Organised by CAMRA, tens of thousands are expected to make their way along to the five-day jamboree – with beers, ciders and perries on offer from the length and breadth of the UK. It will also host the competition to name the winter winner of the Champion Beer of Britain. This competition will take place on the first day of the festival (Tuesday 4th Feb), with the results being announced on stage that afternoon.
The theme of the festival is ‘A Festival of a thousand Trades’ – a celebration of the rich diversity of the West Midlands region, its industry and brewing heritage. The beer scene has become much more vibrant and cosmopolitan in the last decade, with different styles and approaches to suit all tastes. Just like the region itself, everyone is welcome and certain to find something that suits their taste!
The festival bars together measure up to no less than 300 feet, and each one takes its name from a piece of midlands heritage. These include:
- Jewellers Bar (representing Birmingham)
- Sonnet Bar (representing Warwickshire)
- Elgar Bar (representing Worcestershire)
- Astbury Bar (representing Staffordshire, and named after the potter credited with starting the region’s pottery boom)
The Festival venue is New Bingley Hall in Birmingham and It promises to be quite a show, with one-off special brews; an exciting selection of local street food vendors, and live entertainment from bands drawn from across the region.
CAMRA’s Discovery Zone will take centre stage, aimed at empowering visitors to make more informed decisions at the bar. Volunteers have organised daily comparative beer tastings of cask versus keg at the festival, which will be led by exciting and innovative local brewers. They will also showcase high-quality brewing ingredients to help drinkers calibrate their senses.
Breweries involved include Fixed Wheel Brewery, Salopian Brewery, Rock’n’Roll Brewhouse, Hobsons & Pint365 as well as Fownes Brewing Co. Festival-goers can also learn all about foraging in brewing by sitting down with Rock & Roll Brewhouse on Thursday 6 February. Visitors can also learn about the art of homebrewing on the stand, with a number of local homebrewers on hand to talk about their hobby and show off some of the equipment used in homebrewing.
Alex Metcalfe, CAMRA Learning & Discovery Manager, said: “After overwhelmingly positive feedback last year, we are excited to debut the Discovery Zone at Birmingham’s Great British Beer Festival Winter. It is fantastic that we’ve been able to involve some of the innovative local and regional brewers to share their expertise with festival attendees.
“We hope everybody who visits the festival comes away knowing a little bit more about their favourite drink. As always, thank you to the festival organisers and our dedicated volunteers who put so much work into this event, and without whom this wouldn’t be possible!”
Mark Parkes, GBBF Winter Festival Organiser said: “Creating great real ale and cider is both a fine art and an exact science, but it is still something that anyone can turn their hand to. Some of the best breweries in the West Midlands started off as homebrew projects, so we’re excited to bring this craft to the Great British Beer Festival Winter as part of our learning experience, and hopefully inspire some budding brewers-to-be to have a go themselves!”
Members of the trade can apply for a free trade pass here
Public admission times: Tues 4th 1700-2230; Wed 5th to Fri 7th 1100-2230; Sat 8th 1100-1900. (Last entry 30 mins before close)
Admission: Entry packs including commemorative festival glass and £10 of drinks tokens cost £20. (discounts apply if bought in advance)
Tickets to this year’s festival are now available for purchase at https://winter.gbbf.org.uk/tickets/.
For those wanting to learn more about the beers on offer, tutored tastings will be hosted throughout the festival by experts, Christine Cryne and Roger Protz.