REAL ale fans were left bitterly disappointed at the weekend after a much-anticipated beer festival had to be called off when torrential rain flooded the venue.
The Society of Independent Brewers South East Beer Festival had to be called off as Tonbridge Juddians’ rugby ground suffered the worst of last week’s downpours.
Incessant rain and high river levels waterlogged the pitch and flooded the marquee which had been set up for the three-day event.
Rugby club member and event coordinator Gary Martin said 150 barrels of beer had been delivered and set up with cooling equipment on Wednesday afternoon.
“It was damp in places but perfectly usable,” he said.
“We came down on Thursday morning and there was two to three inches of water throughout the whole of the marquee. We sat down and cried for a little while,” he joked.
Once the water had cleared, the barrels, weighing around 50kg each, were hauled out and returned to the brewers.
“The clean up was long and arduous and inside the marquee was a bit muddy and smelly,” Mr Martin said.
“It is a very popular event, we had all the advertising up and people had got used to seeing our yellow signs around.
“It’s a tradition that rugby and beer go hand in hand and this festival’s become part of the local scene.”
The festival usually attracts around 2,000 punters each year, keen to sample more than 150 real ales and ciders from more than 30 breweries.
“Last year we sold around 10,000 pints and we were hoping to do the same again this year,” Mr Martin said.
But organisers were not drowning their sorrows for long. In an attempt to make up for the losses, a pint-sized festival was staged in the clubhouse on Friday evening and Saturday as some local brewers, including Tonbridge, Westerham, Larkins and Tunbridge Wells donated their barrels.
“It wasn’t all a disaster,” Mr Martin added.
“Thanks to the generosity of the brewers, we could recoup all the costs of the marquee and the set up and hopefully we’ll break even. We want everybody to do a sundance for next year and we’ll pick it up from where we left off.”
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