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Ale festival goes with a bang(er)

Locals packed into the Melksham Assembly Hall and swapped their regular pub pints for Real Ales and ciders at the first Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Beer Festival on Saturday 7th November.

Dave Maloney, the festival organiser said, “We were delighted with the success of the event. As this was the first Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Beer Festival, we had no idea if anyone would come, if our volunteers would be enjoying lots of ale and sausages for Christmas, or even if we would actually run out of beer!

“Just like wine, beers have their own characteristics resulting from the ingredients and the recipe used by each brewer. After the uniformity and bland flavours of some big named keg, bottled and canned beers, we were very pleased to give customers the opportunity to sample a range of more unusual ales.

“In the end, it was wonderful to see so many people; we are hoping to make this an annual event, and now we know the level of local interest, we can make next year’s festival even bigger and better.”

On offer were 10 different ales from independent breweries. The furthest afield was from Wickwar Brewery Gloucestershire, who provided Witchcraft, a full-flavoured 4.6% dark ale. Closer to home, Kennett & Avon Brewery supplied Crofton IPA, a 5.4% ale with a full on flavour of exotic fruits with a light bitter finish.

In addition, four ciders and a perry were available, including Skorpion from Flying Monk brewery infused with squid ink – the only black cider in the world – and Black Rat from Moles of Melksham, both of which proved to be very popular.

Toby Moore from Chippenham said, “This was a really great opportunity to try some new flavours from different producers. It was also great to have a wide variety of sausages as accompaniments. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Melksham’s own family run independent butchers, I.D. Newman & Son, supplied the gourmet sausages, including pork and apple, pork with chilli and pork and leek.

Dave Maloney added: “We would like to extend special thanks to the Bell at Lacock, who very generously sponsored the special commemorative glasses given to every ticket holder, to the staff at the Assembly Hall for their brilliant support, and to Melksham Town Council for use of the excellent Assembly Hall.”

All proceeds will be used locally for the promotion and restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

For more information visit www.melkshamwaterway.org.uk