Local Real Ale enthusiasts and community members flocked to the Assembly Hall in Melksham on November 12th eager to try a range of winter ales and ciders from local independent breweries, not usually available in local pubs. The Wilts & Berks’ second annual Winter Ales, Cider and Sausage Festival proved to be a great hit this year, with many of the 120 plus visitors making a day of it by staying to enjoy a top class lunch of Newman’s sausages washed down by the special ales on offer.
From 12:00 noon, there was a steady stream of customers filling the hall and enjoying the friendly atmosphere. Dave Maloney, organiser and chair of the Melksham, Calne & Chippenham Branch said: “Last year we had about 84 people turn up, and we did have both beer and sausages left over. This year we had at least 120 customers, and by the end of the day had sold everything; our quality sausages were locally sourced from Newmans of Melksham, they sold like hot cakes, and were all gone well before closing time. We have had a lot of positive feedback from the festival, and it is definitely something we would like to make a regular event. In total we had 10 ales and four ciders, the majority of which came from within a 25 mile radius of Melksham.”
Visitors to the festival were very pleased to receive a complimentary commemorative glass sponsored by The Bell at Lacock. The Bell, a very popular real ale Wiltshire pub, has adopted the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust as its first charity since being taken over by new management. Paul Maloney, who has been manager of The Bell for more than ten years, said: “This is our first year as leaseholders of the pub and we wanted to support a charity with a local connection; our address ‘The Wharf’ is a reference to how the former row of cottages was once located near the canal before it fell into disrepair and was filled in. It would be superb if we could see the Wilts & Berks brought back to life. Everyone likes to sit in a beer garden next to a canal, watching boats slowly passing by.”
The ales on offer at the festival included some fascinating sounding tipples, such as Severn Sins from Gloucestershire, 25 Silver Pig from Mildenhall, Red Bear from Bath, and even Snake Oil, a dry cider from Slaughterford. Most of the 10 ales and ciders were consumed and enjoyed by the end of the afternoon, and any remaining were sold on at the later music event.
Dave added: “We would like to thank Melksham Town Council, whose grant scheme enabled us to apply for funding to cover the cost of the Assembly Hall. Thanks also to the very helpful staff at the hall, to The Bell for their support, and to all the local people who came along and showed that they really appreciate a good pint brewed by a local micro-brewery. We hope to see you all again next year.”
All funds raised will support the promotion and restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal.
For more information visit the website: www.wbct.org.uk
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