MARTON landlord Steve Norris admits that for the next week some of his customers are only over here for the beer.
Today sees the launch of his 15th annual beer festival at The Shovels, on Common Edge Road, and he’s lined up an even bigger selection of ales, ciders and perries for the occasion.
He told The Gazette: “We’ve more beers than ever this year with about 85 different ones featured. Eight of the breweries have only opened in the last 12 months, making the total throughout Britain in excess of 800.
“There’s a real boom in real ale interest and I’m proud of the fact we have played some part in it becoming accepted as a major beer festival in our own right, not just a pub beer festival.”
So much so that last year he was surprised to find his festival had not only attracted tasters and tipplers from all over the country, it has also spread its wings to Italy and America.
“I met a couple from Texas last year who had come over to the UK just for two festivals – the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) one in Nottingham Castle, which is the biggest in Britain, and our own, which they said they liked because it featured so many new ales,” he said. I think that’s a testament to how far we have come in the last 15 years.”
This year that includes two brewed especially for The Shovels – one by Bowland Brewery and one by Acorn Brewery of Barnsley, whose head brewer is from Blackpool and is an ardent Seasiders fan.
Two other guest beers will be Chilli Red (flavoured with fresh chillies) and Cherry Stout (with cherries added to the after-brew).
“It’s getting to the stage where you won’t know whether to drink them or eat them,” said Steve.
The festival runs from today until Sunday, October 31 – or earlier if the beer runs out.
There will be live music on Friday from The Rockets and on Saturday from Gatorville.