Festival of flavour: Banbury Beer and Cider fest returns tonight

MHBG-15-05-14 Banbury Beer Festival Banbury's annual beer festival, held at the TA centre on Oxford Road. Pictured here: Andrew Davison - Senior Bar Manager and Tim Wilkins - Festival Organiser Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-141005-183028009
MHBG-15-05-14 Banbury Beer Festival Banbury's annual beer festival, held at the TA centre on Oxford Road. Pictured here: Andrew Davison - Senior Bar Manager and Tim Wilkins - Festival Organiser Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-141005-183028009

Today (Thursday) marks the opening of Banbury’s 15th annual Beer and Cider Festival at the Territorial Army Centre in Oxford Road.

Hundreds of beer and cider enthusiasts from across Oxfordshire are expected to turn up for a tipple at this key festival, which offers connoisseurs the chance to broaden their palette and sample more than 80 real ales and more than 20 ciders and perries.

MHBG-15-05-14 Banbury Beer Festival Banbury's annual beer festival, held at the TA centre on Oxford Road. Pictured here: Barrels Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-141005-183038009

MHBG-15-05-14 Banbury Beer Festival Banbury's annual beer festival, held at the TA centre on Oxford Road. Pictured here: Barrels Picture by Lucy Ford NNL-141005-183038009

This year’s theme is Wales, and will feature some of the best up-and-coming Welsh breweries which have been making waves in recent years.

There will be live entertainment from a number of diverse local bands as including Banbury’s own Welsh solo-artist and entertainer Pete Watkins.

On Saturday the festival goers will have a chacne to see traditional Morris dancing.

Plenty of outlets will be offering hot food for the peckish and notably this year will be an opportunity to trying beer and cheese pairings.

But there will be plenty on offer for non-beer drinkers as well, with a range of local ciders and perries, and a diverse variety of fruit wines.

This year will also feature the best brews from Hook Norton, Wye Valley Brewery and White Horse.

Festival organiser Tim Wilkins said he expects at least 1500 people to flock to the festival over the three days.

He said: “We will have three different areas for beer, a third of the stuff we sell will be fairly local, a third will be from Wales and a third will be from the rest of the country.

“We like to choose a different area every year to highlight for the festival. The whole event is to allow people to try different beers and ciders from across the country.

“They will find something they will love to drink and if they really don’t like beer they can come along for the cider and the entertainment.

“We have had a really good response from local companies who have helped finance the festival.

“In particular I would like to thank Hook Norton Brewery and all the others who have helped sponsor the festival.”

The festival will run on Thursday from 5pm to 11pm, on Friday from noon till midnight and on Saturday from 11am to 11pm.

Tickets for the festival range from £1-4 and are free to CAMRA members. Last year’s event featured a Home Counties theme.