Last weekend saw the first beer festival at Egham United Services Club. A short ride for me, changing at Richmond, I thought it would be rude not to go. The event had been well publicised among CAMRA circles and the beer list had evolved into a tickers feast. As sometimes happens, I took insufficient directions and got a little lost between the station and the club but I got there eventually.
One of the downsides of having a winter beer festival where the stillage is outside is that it is freezing. The beer is freezing, the bar staff and the customers - all frozen.
That said, the heaters did their best to warm us up and the inside bar and seating area was very warm and most comfortable. The beer outside, although very cold, was well conditioned and all of the ones that I tried were in excellent form. There was a sprinkling of new breweries and some special one-off festival beers all a £2.40 a pint. A large blackboard explained which beers were on, which were coming and which had finished. I stuck to the tried and tested from Downton, Waylands and Dark Star although the beers from the new Andwell Brewery were also excellent.
The inside bar had the stronger beers on handpump - all about 6% and priced a reasonable £2.60 a pint.
A barbeque rounded off a great event and was very popular.
The event was so successful that they are doing it all again this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. If you did not make it first time round, have a try this time.
Although the weather and the beer are cold, the welcome is warm. This club is in the last four of the current CAMRA Club of the Year competition with very good reason.
If you miss it this time, I believe the next festival is being planned for Easter. I would say the weather might be warmer but you cannot be sure.