Saturday, November 19, 2005
British Beer Festival: Visible in Woking
Woking enjoys a rather anonymous existence in the English county of Surrey, also known as the stockbroker belt. This is London's suburbia extended. Its claim to fame is being the home of novelist H.G. Wells, author of The Invisible Man (1897), for a couple of years.
This year Woking's 12th annual Beer Festival was held on November 11-12. Getting into the festival proved no easy matter. The festival was divided into three sessions with separate tickets for each. I booked a month in advance and only the Saturday lunchtime session was still available. As the ticket could not be sent out of UK, I had to rely on the safe on the premises, Woking Leisure Centre. No need to worry, though, the ticket was ready for me as I entered the reception.
Woking being a rather small town, I was surprised at the scale and professionalism of the event. Woking Leisure Centre is a rather large indoor sports hall, some 10 - 15 minutes walk from the train station. With sheets hanging from below the ceiling, some beer tent atmosphere was created. Casked ales from almost 50 breweries from all over Britain were available, as was a good range of imported bottled beers. Among the British beers there was an overweight of bitters, as you might have expected in this part of the country. Personally I was not bitter when the lunchtime session came to an end at 3.30, only glad that I took the 25 minute train ride from London in the first place.
A well-organised beer festival like this one absolutely makes Woking visible.