Cambridge & District CAMRA 40th Cambridge Beer Festival

Cambridge Beer Festival – It is that time of year again when Jesus Green is taken over by some of the nicest juice around – locally brewed ales. I have to admit, that my love affair for these beers only started last year at the beer festival of the Green Man in Grantchester. As with most love affairs, this one is growing by the day too. Local ales are an important part of my Cambridge Food Tour and the food pairing with the local ales at Bacchanalia is quite daring. It always sparks off a good discussion.

The CAMRA beer festival started last Monday and will keep its pitch until Sunday. It is one of the most popular beer festivals in Cambridge and beyond and it attracts a huge number of visitors and the queues can be very long.  Last year saw a record number of visitors, with over 41,000 visitors to the festival. There is a way to avoid it though! If you become a member you can jump the queue and you will be supporting a good course at the same time.

I will be heading off to Jesus Green in a second, where I will be selling raffle tickets this afternoon. If you are one of the lucky winners, you might snap up one of my raffle prizes – a ticket for one of my Food Tours.

This year is quite special as they are celebrating their 40th Cambridge Beer Festival, the UK’s longest running and 2nd largest beer festival. Don’t shy away if you don’t like beer as besides a wide range of beers, there will be ciders, perry, wine, mead and their famous cheese counter.

cambridge food tour beer pies and scotch eggs

What’s New?

Take away

For the first time at a Cambridge Beer Festival, they will be offering the opportunity to purchase beer and cider in 1/3rd of a pint measure and thus their festival glasses will be lined at 1/3rd of a pint, as well as half and pint lines.

More local wines

They have arranged to have a wider range of locally produced wines from around the region, these will be available from the combined Mead and Wine bar.

New local tipple

I was very pleased to find out that they will be selling the Cambridge newbie,  Cranes. It is a modern and fresh alcoholic cranberry drink, fermented from blended cranberries. This will also be available from the Mead and Wine bar.

The sweet tooth

Merry Berry Truffles and Chocolates, with their range of uniquely flavoured handmade chocolates, fresh cream truffles, alongside other chocolate gifts. All of their chocolates are gluten and nut free and there will also be some dairy-free chocolate and some chocolates that are high in antioxidants and minerals. Finally, they are planning to make some truffles out of a selection of the beers from the festival. Definitely something I will try!

The theme

The theme for the 40th Cambridge Beer Festival is their 40th Anniversary and Cask Man getting into a party mood. It is also the 60th anniversary of James D. Watson and Francis Crick announcing in The Eagle pub (here in Cambridge) that with data from Rosalind Franklin and others, they had discovered the structure of DNA.

About the festival

The Cambridge Beer Festival was first held in 1974. This festival is the branch’s largest and its main beer festival. During its long run, the festival has had several homes but since 2001 has been held on Jesus Green in late May. The festival is the United Kingdom’s longest running CAMRA beer festival and is currently the largest regional beer festival in the UK. The festival features a wide range of local and national beers of all styles, as well as cider, perry, mead, wine and bottled & draft beers from around the world. The festival is also famous for its CAMRA Cheese Counter, where a very wide range of fine cheeses are available, together with locally produced bread, pork pies, ham and other savoury items.

Which local brews can you look forward to

The local breweries will, of course, be featured, with a wide range of beers from Cambridge Moonshine Brewery in Fulbourn, Milton Brewery in Waterbeach, Lord Conrad’s Brewery in Dry Drayton and Fellows Brewery in Cottenham and returning for a second outing at the Cambridge Beer Festival, is BlackBar Brewery in Harston.

Cambridgeshire’s two newest breweries, both micro-breweries based in local pubs, will be at the Cambridge Beer Festival for the first time. From Cambridge we will be welcoming Cambridge Brewing Company, who started brewing in earlier 2013 and are from just around the corner at The Cambridge Brewing House in Kings Street, making them the closest brewery to the Cambridge Beer Festival. Whilst, slightly further afield, from Great Wilbraham, we will be welcoming Crafty Beers, who started brewing in the Autumn of 2012 and are based in the old barns at The Carpenters Arms.

Opening Times and Admission

Details of the opening times and admission are available here.

Just in case you get peckish..

As well as their famous CAMRA Cheese Counter, offering a very wide range of fine cheeses, together with locally produced bread, pork pies, ham and other savoury items, there are several other food concessions providing a wide range of foods, hopefully, providing something for everyone.

Our CAMRA Cheese Counter will be offering for the first time this year, pickled onions (pickled in locally produced Cassels Vintage Cider Vinegar), together with the launch of Rosie’s pickled egg (again pickled in Cassels Vintage Cider Vinegar). Finally, to sweeten things up, we are pleased to be launching Rosie’s homemade fudge, available in two flavours Vanilla and Chocolate Chip.

We will again be offering premium pork scratchings and locally-produced Corkers Crisps, (a truly out of this world crisp) from Pymoor, near Ely. Both will be again available from the bars. We are also going to provide a small range of snacks (pies, scotch eggs, …) in carryout bags from the cheese counter. These will be available after the main cheese counter closes, up until the end of the session.

The Cambridge Beer Festival needs you!

The Cambridge Beer Festival is run entirely by unpaid volunteers – without our volunteers, the beer festival would not go on. We are always in need of volunteers – even if you can only do one shift or even just a few hours to cover meal breaks, it would help us tremendously. In the past the Cambridge Beer Festival has welcomed volunteers from across the United Kingdom (Stockport, Wales, Reading, Croydon to name but a few), as well as volunteers are from across the globe. In 2010, we had volunteers from Sweden, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Australia, Canada, Japan and San Francisco and possibly a few other locations! Thus making the Cambridge Beer Festival a truly international festival.

However, we were again short of volunteers on several evenings of the 2012 festival, We would just like to thank all those that helped “pitch in” when we had to ask for extra help, we hoped you enjoyed yourself and will be back again this year.

You can get more details on the volunteering page.

Looking forward to meeting you there today, either in the afternoon or tonight!


Gerla de Boer

Gerla de Boer is the founder of the award-winning Cambridge Food Tour in Cambridge, UK. She is a globetrotter foodie and always keen to get under the skin of a city or country she visits. She likes to get off the beaten track to get to know the latest food, fine local produce, visit their local markets and check out the hot places to eat in town. These experiences she takes back to Cambridge to create amazing food tours and events. Connect with Gerla on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram