Keep it local as you sup your ale or cider

Those looking for something to wash down some of the region’s top produce will not have far to go as the sixth Alnwick Beer Festival is on hand.

More than 30 beers and almost a dozen ciders will be showcased during the two-day event at Alnwick Town Hall, which coincides with the Food Festival and is organised by the town’s Round Table.

And this year, all the drinks on display have been produced in and around Northumberland.

Round Table member Nick Lewis, who co-ordinated the selection of beers for the festival, says he has personally sampled most of the brews on show, while a few have been carefully selected by local experts.

“There’s going to be a huge range of drinks on offer,” he said.

“Last year we had a Scottish theme, and this year we’ve changed it around a bit to go for entirely local beer.”

There is also a particular focus on local independent and micro-breweries, which have been popping up around Northumberland in recent years.

Some of the breweries under the spotlight include the Coquetdale Brewery in Rothbury, Alnwick Brewery, owned by Spirit of Northumbelrland which also produces Alnwick Rum, and Brew Star micro-brewery in Morpeth.

From further afield come the Northumberland Brewery, based in Bedlington, Hadrian Border Brewery and Jedburgh’s Scottish Borders Brewery.

The festival began in 2007 as a small event held at the town’s cricket club, before moving to the Northumberland Hall, and then on to the Town Hall to run alongside the Food Festival.

“It made perfect sense when we combined the two,” said festival director Iain Stewart.

“Without a shadow of a doubt we benefit from people going to the Food Festival and saying ‘We’ll go to the Beer Festival as well’.”

The event runs on both the Saturday (11am to 11pm) and the Sunday (noon to 6pm) and entry costs £5.

It includes a special engraved half-pint glass to keep and a guide to all of the beers and ciders on offer.

Beers are purchased using tokens, costing £5 for four, and two free tokens are available with admission on Saturday only.