Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Setting Up Is Hard To Do!

One thing the punters don't see is the very hard work that goes into setting up a beer festival, be it big or small. The National Winter Ales Festival is no exception. CAMRA penny pinching has made things harder though. The bars and stillages have had to be cobbled together by volunteers from a hotch potch of non matching kit, begged, borrowed or stolen from here and there, rather than hired to order. Beers orders have been late and incomplete, there are more Chiefs than Indians, but slowly it is all emerging. We will have a festival.

To the public tonight it will all look simple and easy, But it wasn't. It, like most beers festivals, was constructed by overweight, over fifties, working heroics for more hours than is good for them. There was hardly a single person under 40 knocking around. It can't go on for ever like this, so enjoy your beer festivals while you can. While we are all still here, which won't be much longer at this rate!

As you savour your beer, look kindly on the few younger people serving the beer, for they are the future, but look most kindly of all at the tired looking, old geezers behind the bar and elsewhere. It was them that made it happen for you.


Boak said...

So how does one go about volunteering to help put together a festival?

Stonch said...

Check the CAMRA website. Also there tend to be application forms in What's Brewing? and local CAMRA newsletters and magazines.

I think beer festivals would attract younger helpers if they also attracted a younger crowd. There are aways of ensuring that. On the music front, there's either silence (and no atmosphere) or dreadful live bands that only appeal to over 50s.

Also, get rid of those stands selling chunky belt buckles to wierdos. And get rid of the wierdos. Ban fleeces, back packs, hiking boots, anoraks...that should exclude most of them.

Tandleman said...


If you think a bit of appealing music will have those young persons beating a path to set up, then you are sadly mistaken. And one man's weirdo is another man's CAMRA stalwart. If it was as easy as you say, it would have been done long since.You are a sort of young person attracted to beer. What is it that makes you so?

Guess we'd all better look out the knitwear and book Girls Aloud! Unless there is an easier answer.

I am home after a long day, sober and tired. We had no music, no chunky belt buckles and plenty young totty. It wasn't so bad!

Boak said...

Stonch - maybe it's the other way round - maybe beer festivals would attract younger visitors if they had "younger" staff.

I remember it took me several years to go back to another beer festival after my first experience. Being young and female made me the target for all sorts of comments, ranging from patronising to sleazy, mostly from the staff but also from the punters. Fortunately, things have got better in the last five years.

Actually, I think what makes the biggest difference to beer festival take up is advertising it outside the usual channels. GBBF has a much more mixed profile of people (age, sex, race) than any other festival I've ever been to, and I attribute that to the fact that Camra advertise it on the tube, in the freebie papers, get Time Out features etc.

But you've inspired me, Tandleman. I will volunteer to help out at a local beer festival and then I'll really know what I'm talking about.

Tandleman said...


That's tremendous!. I hope you have a good time. In any event, it is good to see things from the other side of the bar now and then. Must zoom, I need to be back there in about two hours.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I intend one day to get to either the Winter Ales Fest or GBBF , and would certainly be keen to volunteer. At this end of the world I dont get to make much contribution to CAMRA apart from my subs.