The extravaganza of real ale, cider and perry that is the annual Nottingham Beer and Cider Festival returns to the city tomorrow. This will be the second year at the new venue of the Motorpoint Arena while Nottingham Castle is under transformation.

The festival promises the widest possible selection of beers from all over the country, presenting around one thousand different casks of real ale, the largest selection of any real ale festival in the world. There will also be one of the widest selections of heritage craft cider and perry ever assembled together in this country, over 200 of them, all sourced from the smaller artisanal producers, and the unique East Midlands and Welsh cider bars return. The keykeg (sometimes known as ‘craft’) bar also returns, offering some of the more extreme styles.

From opening on Wednesday evening around 850 beers should be available to choose from, if they are ready. Then around 100 further beers will go on sale later in the festival once there is room on the stillages. This is to ensure that there is still a good selection of beers available throughout the festival.

Breweries marked ‘LocAle’ are situated within 20 miles of the festival, however the length and breadth of the country is represented. The beers which have travelled the furthest have come from the Scilly Isles – The Ales of Scilly, while Scotland and Wales are well represented.

The intriguing list of beers includes something for every taste with all levels of tasting experience. There are lots of fruity beers ranging from the traditional cherry, and plum through to the more exotic guava, mango and coconut. Chocolate and coffee lovers will be well served with a wide range of tastes and dessert aficionados can sample the dessert trolley with Tiramisu, Lemon Meringue Pie, and Rhubarb and Custard concoctions. There is also a Victoria Sponge Sandwich beer which almost needs a cup of tea to accompany it – so close is the taste.

Some of the strongest beers come from local producers. Approach with caution to sample – Castle Rock’s STORM THE EMPERORS CASTLE which is 13%, as stout, barrel aged over cacao nibs. The MAGPIE/FLIPSIDE Breweries collaboration FLIPPING MAGPIES BRAGGOT at 13% has a real Medieval feel which combines Ale and mead combine for a unique braggot flavour (Braggot is a form of mead made with both honey and barley malt.) The strongest beer accolade goes to York company – Brew York, with MOCHA MAN RANDY SAVAGE which is a 14% Imperial breakfast milk stout.

Those needing something to line their stomachs while sampling the beers can take advantage of two outside areas providing most of the cooked food. In the back stage party area, Memsaab will have curries and wraps, Romano’s offer hog roast and gourmet burgers, there are real Cornish pasties from the Hand Made Pasty Co. and The Jerk Station is making a welcome return to the festival, while for something sweeter look out for Love Crepes.

In the arena the Nottingham Cheese Shop will supply Mrs Kings Pork Pies, scotch eggs and a wide range of cheese. Emma’s sandwich shop is providing excellent value rolls and warm sausage rolls, Just Crisps with their 100% British crisps.

If you dare, Scorpion chocolate will challenge your taste buds, try it with a Stout or Porter. There are some tasting sessions this year, to explore this pairing idea further – availability is limited so check the festival website. Tasting sessions can only be booked alongside a festival entry ticket.

Vegetarian and Vegan visitors should look for catering at Chanakas. The festival also boasts a range of Vegan beers. Numerous beers marked as ‘unfined’. Mainly to avoid cloudiness, many beers receive the addition of tropical fish swim bladders mixed with sodium metabisulphite (a disinfectant and preservative). This is called isinglass. Many beers at the festival will be cleared by this method. The process is known as fining the beer. Unfined beer is naturally conditioned, with loads of flavour so Vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy this alternative taste sensation. Other dietary requirements are catered for with Gluten Free beers are clearly marked as well as those containing Lactose although it is best to check if you are unsure.

Beer Festival Entertainment
With two music stages, the festival is showcasing a wide range of local talent which will appeal to all. The full listings are available at Highlights include:

  • REBEL, REBEL – Performing the classic songs from David Bowie’s golden years.
  • DALLAS ROOTS COMBO – An authentic, four piece rockin’ combo influenced by rockabilly, blues, rock and roll, rhythm and blues and country
  • RISE OF THE TOMAHAWK – Nottingham’s premiere originals mod band – playing their unique brand of 60s inspired songs
  • ELECTRIK VINYL – Electrik Vinyl are a fun, vibrant 80s themed show band with amazing choreographed dance routines and authentic 80’s costume changes throughout the show
  • BACKLINE BLUES – High Octane Blues from Beer Town Burton on Trent
  • MELLONIE PAGE BAND – Mellonie Page is a versatile mezzo soprano singer/songwriter. Her roots are in RnB Gospel and 80’s Soul music
  • ATLANTIC 54 – Providing an eclectic mix of disco-infused soul and funk, blended with smooth city vibes and retro dance hall fever.
  • BLUEJAKS – Bluejaks are an eight piece soul band. They play classics that will get everyone on their feet. Soul and old-style R’n’B music primarily, all classics from Motown, Stax, Atlantic era

Next year!
This year’s event has reverted to the traditional timing of the weekend following Goose Fair. This pattern will continue in 2020 when the dates will be 7 to 10 October, get them in your calendar now!

Public Transport
There are buses to most areas of Nottingham and the surrounding area with many late buses running out of the city at night. There are midnight buses on all of NCTs Go2 routes and the tram runs until midnight. Trent Barton run many late buses as well with even later ones on Friday and Saturday night. Plan your journey with the Nottingham City Council Journey Planner

Event ticket holders can also take advantage of the tram event ticket which is £2.50 return per person but you must be able to show your event ticket too:

Free WiFi
The free wifi at the Motorpoint Arena is called #ArenaWifi When you connect it will open a webpage and ask you to accept some terms and conditions. It will then ask you to sign in using Facebook, Twitter or a basic form. Once complete, you will then have internet access.

Nottingham CAMRA chairman, Steve Westby, said, “Many of our customers were sceptical about our moving away from Nottingham Castle last year and expressed concerns that this immensely popular annual event could work in what they saw as an indoor location like the Arena. But their fears were proved groundless when they discovered that the festival was not only in the main arena but also over two large outdoor areas, the Backstage Beer Garden, with brewery bars, food and live music and the Bolero Square village which also offers bars, stalls and live music! Many said it was the best festival yet. This year we plan to build on that and make it bigger and better than ever.”

Cllr Dave Trimble – Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture said: “It is exciting to see how this incredibly popular event for the city continues to develop with the opportunities presented with a new venue. Whether you are an ardent beer drinker or somebody looking for an fun night out with great local entertainment and some interesting flavours to try out, the Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival is going to be bigger and better than ever.”

Kinga Kapias, Marketing and Communications Manager at Visit Nottinghamshire, said:“The Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival is one of the biggest and most popular events in the city’s calendar, attracting thousands of people to the city centre over the four-day period and boosting the local retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.”