Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 17

Things are progressing for this year’s festival.  If you’ve seen our posters or flyers you’ll know that:


  • The venue is booked and the layout is being finalised as Strutts have had some new toilets installed and room 10 has been renovated
  • The bands are booked and stage times agreed
  • The caterer is in place with the full range of their foods currently being discussed


This time of year is almost the calm before the storm.  There’s a steady stream of arrangements to make up to this point but it’s now when a lot of the very important tasks are undertaken.  In the 10 or so weeks before the festival there’s a lot to get done.  I imagine it’s the same with every festival.


We are underway with our main distribution of 1100 posters and 10,000 flyers.  My van is always full of passengers that look surprisingly like large brown cardboard boxes in the run up to the festival!   We have already covered Chesterfield on a recent trip and this is soon to be followed by a trip to Derby, an August bank holiday crawl around Ripley and a trip to Burton the first week in September.


Fortunately, these are all pub crawls where we can enjoy a social event and do some promotion for the festival at the same time. You are more than welcome to join us on these social trips (see the Socials page for full details).


The bulk of the work though is done by individual members calling in at all the various pubs on our patch (and beyond).  There’s over 100 pubs in our area that we target for our festival promotion with members of our committee who live in different areas acting as storage hubs for others to collect and distribute from - much like what happens with the Derby Drinker distribution.  If you can help us with this please contact Phil Marshall on 07828 19 77 95 or  All help is greatly appreciated.


The staffing form is now online and so it’s time to plan your diary and volunteer if you have any free time.  There will be lots for me to co-ordinate and arrange for this aspect but the staff transport we provide for those working the Friday and Saturday evening shifts who live relatively local (Milford to Hazelwood to Ripley to Brinsley is the usual route) is already booked.  As the years have progressed I have put procedures in place to make to the pre-festival process smoother for all involved but it still requires a lot of attention.


A lot of us return year after year but we welcome new faces and promise to support you if you want to break your festival virginity!  Ultimately, we try and make it as much fun as possible and keep the atmosphere relaxed.


I’ve made a lot of provisional enquiries for the beer list.  At present the short list has been whittled down from around 130 to just under 90 with more than a dozen to be removed to get to the final number.   I’m waiting to hear from the rest of the local breweries and wholesalers about availability and beers will be added and removed from the list until I eventually reach the desired balance and budgeted number of beers


If you want to know more about this part of the process I covered this in much more detail in parts 9a and b.  If everything goes to plan you can expect to see a few new(ish) breweries from around Derbyshire and the surrounding areas along with a quite few breweries from the Midlands, North and South that we haven’t featured before.  I hope to make some announcements about the beers in the next few weeks.


When choosing the dark beers, I try to include at least one session, mid-strength and strong beer for each of the true dark beer categories (mild, stout and porter) to try and cater for as many tastes and preferences as possible.  I also try and offer a mix of traditional, sweeter (what I call dessert beers), fruit and speciality styles within these categories.  This can be incredibly tough when you are only talking about a total of around 10 beers!


I’d like to think I achieve a choice of dark beers to suit all tastes it but I’m too close to it to have any real perspective.  We’ve never had any complaints about the range but I always wonder if anyone notices these little subtleties…


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