Bracknell Ale & Wine Festival 2014 a smash hit

Bracknell Ale & Wine Festival 2014 sponsored by Think Ford is over for another year, and what a day it was.

We shifted 12 firkins of real ale, a cask and three polypins of cider, all but a couple of bottles of wine and sold out of hog roast within 90 minutes. We had hundreds of people through the door and raised a record amount for Bracknell Town FC. We’d love your feedback so please feel free to leave it in the comments section at the bottom of this slightly longer than anticipated article.

The event, which began planning at Christmas has irrefutably grown in it’s 4 year existance at Bracknell Town Football Club, and there are a number or areas to build and improve on for 2015.

It should be said we were incredibly fortunate with the weather, by Monday morning large parts of the pitch were flooded following a torrential downpour, and it is unlikely, even with cover that we’d have been able to use the pitch – unless everyone was wearing wellies!

See how social media reported our festival

The day started with the judging panel consisting of Regional CAMRA director Nick Boley, South East Berks CAMRA chair David Richards and beer aficionado’s Claire Knight, Ed Kruczek and Tony Hardy – you can see what was named ‘best beer’ here.

Doors opened at 1pm with a steady stream of people trickling through. Prior to opening, the festival team had moved all of the furniture onto the pitch into pre-erected tents on the pitch. The tents came from 2nd Bracknell and Pinewood scouts, with gazebos belonging to the club. Earlier that morning, a heavy gust of wind destroyed two of our larger gazebos despite some strong guy ropes.

The tents before the wind got them!
The tents before the wind got them!

It was great to see everyone on the pitch with picnics and outdoor furniture. When the music kicked off at 3pm (we had a last minute cancellation meaning we weren’t able to start it earlier) it really started to feel like a proper festival.

At that point it became clear that this idea Michael and I had four years ago, had suddenly become much bigger than we’d ever anticipated. We had a five year plan to get it onto the pitch, but we realised very quickly that we’d need to revise a number of things for a growing festival in 2015.

Firstly, a club that normally see’s between 80 and a 120 people and events and matches isn’t quite equipped in the glass washing department to cope with 500. We had enough glasses, we just couldn’t wash them quickly enough, and we’ll be looking at solutions to that next year.

Roger Chappe de Leonvel in 2012
God of glass washing Roger Chappe de Leonvel in 2012

The lack of available glasses meant queues were slightly longer than we would have liked but we’re indebted to a number of people – god of buns and glass washing Roger Chappe de Leonvel for one, as well as Bill Canning, Ed Kruczek, Paul Anderson, Joe Haines, Simon Blunden, Graham Blunden, Dan Canning, Matt Willis, Matt Richards, Michael Drury, Emily Barkus and Chris Day.

I’ve just reread the first part of that, and it all sounds a bit negative – it was a brilliant day for the club, myself and Michael – I just think it’s important that we address issues so you know we are aware – and I welcome any and all feedback either in the comments below, or to

As I say, some great positives, the bands did us proud. Even more so when you consider they play for us for free. But I hope they got a kick out of playing to a decent sized crowd. Thanks also to Adrian Holden our sound man who organised a great deal on the sound system.

The hog roast appeared to go down incredibly well, Simon and Belle at the Winning Post in Winkfield donated both the hog, their time and all the proceeds to the club for which we’re eternally grateful – make sure you get up there for some dinner soon!

We had a big contingent of CAMRA members from far and wide, and wanted to thank Jeremy Barber (South East Berks) and Tim Thomas (West Berks CAMRA) for their regular facebooking and tweeting of our event.

From what I heard, the selection of beers was well received – certainly the empty 12 barrels and 6 polypins suggest we did something right!

The first set of empty barrels
The first set of empty barrels

The event though wouldn’t happen without the following at the club – Allison Nugent who sorted out a tea bar for me with a weeks notice – I’m eternally grateful, my friend’s Darrell Freeland and Michael Keen, and club colleagues (and friends) Chris Day (Chairman), Roger (and my dad Bill – what these two can’t do or build isn’t worth doing), Steve O’Connor for allowing me to drive his van, Jason Dale and Graham Brant for the tents, the missus for cooking and creative ideas during planning, Mick Bradley for his bar expertise and unwavering ability to tap beer barrels – something I am terrified of, Barry Todd, Think Ford and Wilkins Kennedy and all 30 of our sponsors, and every single one of you who attended!

I hope we’ll see you all again in 2015!