Fyne Fest, Cairndow, Argyll & Bute
In Glen Fyne on the Achadunan Estate in the Highlands, this Fyne Ales brewery event is something of a pilgrimage for nature-loving hopheads – many build it into a West Highland Way itinerary. Now in its 10th year and serving more than 270 beers (from first-year flames, such as Thornbridge and Oakham,to new-wave icons such as Cloudwater and Verdant), Fyne is that rare beer festival where you can camp on-site, paddle in the river and do a three-mile walk to a pop-up bar at a remote bothy – peaceful spot where the phone signal is at best patchy. Do not miss Fyne’s own citra hop-packed Jarl pale.
• 31 May-3 June, adult weekend camping, £74.45, weekend pass without camping, £69.45, fynefest.com
Wincle Beer Festival, Cheshire
On Tolls Farm in the tiny village of Wincle, on the Cheshire-Staffordshire border, Wincle Beer Company throws open its doors and neighbouring fields each June to host this boutique beer festival by the River Dane. Expect a choice of around 25 beers from not just Wincle but such local breweries as Beartown, Torrside, Peak Ales and early craft pioneer Red Willow. The vibe is family-friendly fete, with live music (a brass band will open the Saturday), a tug-of-war, street food and a separate gin and prosecco bar. Camping available (£10 a night).
• 28-29 June, admission free, early bird drink tokens and glass £24.58, on Facebook
Cardigan Independent Beer Festival, Ceredigion
Run by the second generation of the Tucker-Lynch clan (who as, Fforest, own assorted top-end, eco-groovy camping, holiday apartment and food and drink businesses), Pizzatipi occupies a sweet spot on the River Teifi. Its serves pizzas from a riverside kitchen in a courtyard formed by several historic maritime buildings, with sunset views over the water. Each June, Pizzatipi also hosts this showcase of Welsh craft beer. Expect around 50 beers – mainly keg, from, among others, Loka Polly, Heavy Industry, Cwrw Ial and Crafty Devil, including one-off exclusives. The weekend also includes silly games, challenges, music and the Glastonbury festival shown on a big screen.
• 28-29 June, tickets tbc, approx £10-£20, pizzatipi.co.uk
Cotswold Beer Festival, near Winchcombe
Now in its 43rd year, Cotswold Beer Festival is produced by Camra Gloucestershire and Postlip, a co-housing community that owns six hectares (15 acres) of paradise between Cheltenham and Winchcombe. Beer is served in a medieval tithe barn and paddock that rolls down to a stream on the Cotswold Way. At Saturday lunchtime particularly, families picnic on its slopes while enjoying live music and Morris dancing. More than 80 cask beers will be served, a third each from: Gloucestershire (Big River, Hal’s Ales, Inferno); this year’s featured region, East Anglia; and the wider UK, including beers from a big hit at last year’s event, West Yorkshire’s Elland Brewery. Camping is available in fields less than a mile from the site (£5 a pitch).
• 19-21 July, session beers from £4, Sunday free noon-3pm, postlip.camra.org.uk
Middle Earth Beer and Music Festival, Clitheroe, Lancashire
JRR Tolkien took much topographical inspiration for The Lord of the Rings from Lancashire’s Ribble valley, a link celebrated at this family-friendly event now in its tenth year. Held at the riverside, by Waddow Hall, it will feature orcs and elves hiding in the wooded areas, an archery arena, theatre group Ribcaged retelling Lord of the Rings in 30 minutes and hardcore fans wandering the site in full cosplay Frodo outfits. There’s also a live music bill for all three days. Chosen by the people behind Clitheroe’s Ale House bar, the beers used to be solely cask but, this year, will include craft-keg options from northern stars including Squawk, Blackjack, Marble, Northern Whisper and Beer Nouveau. Naturally, you pay with specially minted paper “Tolkiens”.
• 19-21 July, adult weekend camping ticket £53.50, day tickets from £11, middleearthbeerfestival.co.uk
Peakender, Bakewell, Derbyshire
With its picturesque Peak District scenery and on-site camping, Thornbridge Brewery’s Peakender is a favourite with outdoorsy beer fans. Regulars enjoy walking off the night before in the nearby hills and, on Saturday morning, there’s a 5K run or a 45-minute yoga session that finishes with a tasting of Thornbridge’s low-alcohol Big Easy. The 17 featured breweries include Firestone Walker, Wander Beyond and Northern Monk, with various meet-the-brewer and beer talks among three days of live music and street food.
• 16-18 August, two adults camping pass £79.50, weekend adult pass (no camping) £24.75, peakender.co.uk
Hilden Beer and Music Festival, near Lisburn, County Antrim
Based at Hilden House, 19th-century home of the Barbour linen magnates, Hilden Brewery is in a two-hectare green oasis. The former stables is now a taproom and restaurant, whose courtyard and gardens (with a main stage and several temporary tepees), form the hub of a festival that draws 1,000 people each day. The festival maintains an emphasis on local producers of not just beer but ciders and spirits, with Northern Irish brewers such as Farmageddon, Hillstown and Clear Sky prominent alongside Hilden on three bars, which also take in a selection of UK and Irish beers. Music-wise, Hilden is eclectic but Friday is rock night and Sunday is more folky, mindful that people may be feeling a wee bit fragile.
• 23-25 August, from £15, taproomhilden.com
Indy Man Beer Con, Manchester
Such is the clamour of excitement at the bars it is easy to overlook that the location, the Grade II-listed 1906 Victoria Baths, adds a rich layer of atmosphere to Britain’s best craft beer event. The baths are an architectural riot of glazed tilework, etched glass and mahogany, and exploring their nooks and hidden bars is fun in itself. That exploration will go deeper this year as, across four days, Indy Man extends into the old filter rooms, laundry and cellars under the (drained) pools, where brewers such as North, Wild Beer, Buxton, Burning Sky and transatlantic cult stars such as New York’s Other Half, pour their creations. Just don’t fall asleep in the poolside changing stalls. It happens.
• 3-6 October, tickets on sale 4 June, four-day ticket £65 + booking fee, day tickets from £10 + booking fee, indymanbeercon.co.uk
Craft Beer Calling, Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle’s extraordinary, 400-hectare green lung, Town Moor, starts just north of the city centre and its south-east corner includes Exhibition Park, site of a huge expo in 1929. The lone surviving building from that event, the lakeside Palace of Arts, is now home to Wylam Brewery, which hosts Craft Beer Calling under the cupola of its Grand Hall, a space lined with ageing barrels. At this “invitational” (as at Indy Man), 30 mainly UK breweries staff their own bars, which is a boon for beer geeks who crave face time with Britain’s best (The Kernel and Burning Sky are two confirmed for this year). Outdoors, street food stalls will feature stars from Wylam’s sister business, Gateshead’s By The River shipping container market.
• 24-26 October, weekend ticket £33, session tickets from £10, craftbeercalling.com
Vessel Beer Festival, Plymouth
Fourteen stained glass windows flank the Great Hall of Plymouth’s Grade II-listed Guildhall, depicting key moments from the city’s history, such as the launching of the Pilgrim Fathers’ Mayflower in 1620. But in this dramatic setting of huge chandeliers and tapestries, Vessel Beer Shop is looking to the future by showcasing creative British beers from south-west pace-setters (Verdant, Black Flag, New Lion, Stannary) and national names such as Cloudwater and Northern Monk. Here, 23 breweries will supply three beers each, with regional street food traders on hand to stave off the effects of those high-ABV double IPAs and imperial stouts.
• 29-30 November, sessions £10 plus booking fee, vesselbeerfestival.co.uk
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