Derby is commonly referred to as the Real Ale capital of England and in terms of its reputation for beer quality, appears to be the place to visit or live if you want an ‘all-year-round beer festival.
This point is emphasized in the month of July when locals and visitors alike descend on the Midlands Beer Capital for the annual Derby Beer Festival.
The actual festival is held at the Derby Assembly Rooms with beer-lovers eager to sample the scores of real ales, cider, Perry, bottled conditioned, and European beers on offer. With well over 100 traditional ales from all over the UK available across its 5-day duration, there really is something for everyone. Each session is accompanied by musical entertainment in the form of folk, rock, and tribute acts.
The main hall is where many of the beers are located but the Darwin suite is also open and hosts a changing variety of beer from local and semi-local breweries. In fact, the Darwin suite proves very popular due to its slightly more intimate environment.
Food is available inside the festival but over recent years, this has proved expensive and of questionable quality. If you plan to enter the festival, either take your own or eat in one of the many restaurants or beer houses before you go in (or have that obligatory annual kebab on the way home).
The main festival is run by volunteers from the Derby branch of The Campaign for Real Ale or CAMRA as it is commonly abbreviated. Founded in 1971 as a non-profit consumer association, CAMRA has fought and won many battles to preserve traditional Ale and the traditional pub. It was set up to champion consumers’ rights with recent victories being to expose pubs serving short measures and to break up the monopolies of large beer conglomerates.
The recent recession and the increase in alcohol duty have seen a radical reduction in profitable pubs across the British Isles with many closing or diversifying their business. This has been a testing time for CAMRA who continue to fight for the rights of Ale lovers and pub landlords alike.
There are many reference points for information on the City of Derby and how to enjoy yourself at the all-year-round city festival of beer. The historic City of Derby is currently undergoing a renaissance and commands an enviable position at the very heart of the UK. Derby is accessible via road, rail or air and is the nearest City to the Donnington Park Race Circuit. The All Year Round Derby Beer Festival is so-called due to the abundance of quality ale houses both in the City center, suburbs and rural areas. Guided Derbyshire pub walks through the countryside are a treat and there are attractions galore – prepare for a great time.
There is a complementary Derby Winter Beer Festival usually held in February each year which can also be combined with a stopover and a tour of the City.