When Tuckers Maltings shuttered its doors last autumn many beer-lovers feared that SIBA South West’s popular beer festival, held annually at the Maltings since 1993, would have to either leave Newton Abbot or be cancelled. However, the good news is that SIBA South West has announced a new home for the festival, Osborne Park, directly opposite the Maltings. The event, an essential date in the calendar for the region’s thirsty beer-lovers, will be held April 11-13 in two marquees on the Park, meaning that it remains close to the railway station and the town centre.
‘We were sad when Tuckers Maltings closed as it played a very important role in the success of the breweries in the South West,’ says Norman Lewis, chair of the Festival Committee and owner of Summerskills Brewery. ‘The festival was originally conceived to showcase the beer brewed with their malt but has evolved over the years. We see this year’s event as just another stage of that evolution and an opportunity to look at how we can build on the success of the festival in the years to come.’
After last June’s announcement that Tuckers Maltings would be closing in the autumn, the festival organisers immediately got to work looking for an alternative. It was not easy, for after all the Maltings was a unique place for a festival, here barley would make its first steps on the way to becoming beer. Various other venues including Newton Abbot’s race course and Forde House were also looked at but the two marquees were finally settled on.
The format of the Festival will be similar to that of previous years, with live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, the Real Meat Sausage Co providing catering and the Maltings Taphouse and Bottle Shop open for business as usual.
As for the all important list of beers, Norman reports that there will be room for 320 casks, ‘but the exact number of different beers is yet to be decided. Some of the most popular ones will be doubled up so that there is a good selection still on the Saturday. The beer selection will still be driven to some extent by the SIBA South West cask beer competition, which we hold during the day before the festival’s opening night, but we are also looking to fill the gaps in styles that this tends to create, as well as some special brews that don’t fit into the competition categories.
‘The marquees will offer a lighter and more airy venue and there will still be plenty of space outside on the grass,’ he added. ‘The stage for the entertainment will be in one marquee and the bar in the other so that the majority of festival goers should be able to find an agreeable environment in which to enjoy their beer. We are expecting to welcome 5000 visitors to the festival over the three days, with a limit of 1500 on site at any one time.’
Norman is also grateful for the help and support from Teignbridge District Council, and the local police and Fire service, while he reserved a special vote of thanks for SIBA South West’s Adrian Wood (a former brewer with Wadworth’s and Palmers) ‘for filling in all the forms and to Richard Wheeler for keeping such good documentation relating to the event held in Tuckers Maltings.’
Admission charges are: £5 for the Thursday evening session; £5 for the Friday 11-5 session, £7 for the 6-11 session or £10 all day; £5 all day Saturday (11am to 10pm). Tokens for a half pint will be priced at £1.70 each, £10 for 6 tokens and a refund value of £1 per token.
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Information on SIBA (Society of Independent Breweries)
SIBA is the leading trade association of UK independent craft breweries and campaigns hard to protect and defend its members’ interests. For more information got to www.siba.co.uk.