A celebration of all things ‘real ale’ opened in Hackney last night, as punters gathered for the launch of the 30th Pig’s Ear Beer and Cider Festival.
The festival is organised by the East London and City branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to promote the traditional techniques of brewing and encourage pub-goers to choose ale over lager.
Bill Green, publicist at CAMRA, said: “It’s one of hundreds of festivals organised by CAMRA every year, but the Pig’s Ear, named after the Cockney rhyming slang for ‘beer’, is the most well-known and it is very well respected.”
“This festival is about proclaiming real ale, proclaiming the campaign, supporting small breweries and new businesses…but also, it’s fun!”
The festival will showcase over 250 beers and over 30 ciders from around the world including the ‘East London Bar’, which featured nine Hackney breweries, as well as six from other parts of east London.
Last year saw a record number of real ale enthusiasts attend the five-day event.
Green said that: “CAMRA has gone through an incredible revival, especially among young people…membership has doubled in the last six years. We now have 156,000 members, with membership growing by 8% a year.”
He added: “As far as east London’s concerned, we have now got 15 breweries, none of which existed five years ago.”
While the festival aims to champion traditional ales made in barrels, it is also embracing new innovative methods of brewing by including bottles and disposable kegs in the 2013 line-up, which until recently were controversial among real ale enthusiasts.
Festival-attendee Ed Taylor, brewer at the Howling Hops microbrewery in Hackney Central, said: “It’s an excellent festival, the best in London. They even have a Hackney Bar.”
CAMRA is an interest group and a consumer rights organisation which lobbies ministers and civil servants over planning issues and campaigns on behalf of pubs.
Pig’s Ear Beer Festival The Pig’s Ear Beer and Cider Festival will be held at Hackney’s Round Chapel, Glenarm Road, from December 3 to December 7.