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Saturday, 30 May 2015

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Raise a glass at Tynedale Beer Festival

EIGHTEEN thousand, seven hundred and twenty. It has a certain ring to it – especially when you know it’s the number of pints of beer that will be waiting to be drunk in Corbridge next week.

Geoff Brooker of Hexhamshire Brewery with the first pint of the Hexham Courant 150 Anniversary Ale.

Tynedale Beer Festival gets under way at Tynedale Park on Thursday evening and the three-day event will not only see thousands of pints consumed, but thousands of pounds raised for good causes.

Last year, the festival, which is organised by Tynedale Lions and Tynedale RFC, raised £67,000 and this year those benefiting will include Queen Elizabeth High School’s rowing club, the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund and the Percy Hedley Foundation which provides services for disabled people and their families.

The centrepiece of the festival will be a huge marquee which will house 122 different beers, as well as a stage for the several bands lined up for the occasion. Look out for A69 on the Friday night, made up of local musicians Peter Tickell, Darren McGrath and Dan Rodgers.

They formed the rock band when they were at school in Hexham and have since gone on to tour the world with artists such as Sting and Paul Simon.

There won’t just be beer available at the festival, said Colin McGregor from Tynedale Lions. “We’ve increased the size of the side marquee for the cider and wine,” he said.

“The cider is hugely popular. We ran out of cider last year so we are increasing that considerably. It’s not just popular with women, but a lot of men drink it.

“We’re using the same formula as last year, but we’re having more emphasis on families on the Saturday when we’ve got a magician and face painting.

“We’ve got a wine bar which is sponsored by Bin 21 and they will be putting on Prosecco and Pimms to make it more of a day out for everyone, rather than just a beer drinking session.”

The beers, though, will be the main focus of attention and this year the festival organisers have brought in a number of new brews, not least Courant 150 Ale which has been brewed by the Hexhamshire Brewery to mark the 150th anniversary of the Hexham Courant.

Two other specials are Percy’s Pint and Go Commando, both brewed by Hadrian Border – the first on behalf of the Percy Hedley Foundation and the second to commemorate 350 years of the Royal Marines.

“We normally change about 20 beers every year so there are always new beers to try, as well as keeping the old favourites,” said Steve Hull from Tynedale RFC.

“The marquee is even bigger this year so, whatever the weather, we can keep people dry, but we’ll be hoping for sunshine.”

The festival is open from 6pm-11pm on Thursday, June 12 and Friday, June 13, while on the Saturday it runs from 1pm-11pm.

For the first time, tickets can be bought online, but are also available from tourist information centres in Hexham and Corbridge. For more information visit the website www.tynedalebeerfestival.org.uk