Recipe for a successful beer festival

Main ingredients: A venue, some beer, and some very willing volunteers

Meet some of our volunteer members as they set-up Keighley Beer Festival 2014 in Central Hall, Alice Street, Keighley. (This really is what we have to do in the 2+ days it takes to set up the beer festival. It comes down rather more quickly!) View the time-lapse video of day one of set-up on Youtube. (Photos courtesy of Glynne Davies; time lapse filmed by Central Hall staff.)

  • The bars, stillage and glasses from our store1) Start with an empty hall and pour in bars, stillage, glasses and anything else useful you can find in the container we share with Bradford CAMRA. Thanks go to Saltaire Brewery for allowing us to park the container at their brewery.
  • Add in the cooling equipment from HQ2) Now fill whatever floor space remains with cooling equipment from CAMRA HQ in St. Albans. We‘ve never seen these fancy coloured plumbing bits before! This should be interesting.....
  • Colleen and Julie fill the coolers3) Bar manager (and branch chair) Colleen and keen assistant Julie fill the coolers. There‘s nothing worse at a beer festival than warm beer.
  • Working out what to charge for the beer...4) Someone needs to decide how much to charge for everything. Denny, the festival co-ordinator and branch treasurer, Jeremy, discuss beer prices. “Denny, let the computer do the thinking!” Goose Eye brewery liaison officer, Andy looks on: “How much???”
  • Casks on the stillage5) As soon as some beer arrives, put it straight onto the stillage. Unfortunately they don‘t jump up there on their own....
  • Putting the saddles on the casks, ready to connect to the coolers6) Then start getting the casks ready to connect to the cooling by putting on the saddles, as demonstrated by Frank, John, Andy and Trish.
  • Folding programs7) Meanwhile, start folding those programs. That man Steve is a fast worker! Chris and Frank are struggling to keep up while Andy, the organiser of our other beer festival (in Skipton), has already thrown in the towel. The things we do to save a couple of bob!
  • Building the bars8) ..and start building the bars, a job for the experts. Doug, Mark and Steve compete to see who can finish their section first, while Jeremy checks his phone to see what the prize is.
  • Sterilising the keystones ready for venting an tapping9) Prior to venting and tapping the beers, don‘t forget to sterilise the casks. Julie demonstrates how to wash-up on a grand scale.
  • Cleaning glasses10) ...whilst Frank and Trish put the glasses through the washer. No, it‘s not a time-lapse photo, they were working that fast. There‘s such a lot of glasses to clean, you know, and so little time!
  • Jeremy and Ruggie with the secret ingredient11) Every good recipe has a secret ingredient. I‘ve no idea what it is or what it does, and it looks like Jeremy and Ruggie don‘t know either.
  • Cleaning glasses12) Whilst the festival develops, there‘s occasionally time for extra-curricular activities. Here Fred, editor of our quarterly newsletter, Alesman, finally decides to learn the alphabet. Lynda, our membership secretary, checks the internet via her phone to see which letter comes next.
  • More bar-fixing13) Doug and Steve continue putting the bars together while Julie waves her magic wand over the beer to help it condition.
  • More program folding14) More programs to fold - it‘s branch webmaster and pubs officer Richard‘s turn to have a go, aided by treasurer Jeremy who has finally conceded it IS easier without his work gloves.
  • Sam and Denny discuss staff rotas15) Upstairs in the staffing office, staffing officer Sam assures a sceptical Denny that the volunteer staff WILL do what they‘re told, once the festival opens.
  • Topping up the coolers16) Keeping the beer cool is a never-ending task. Here, Mark tries to persuade the small cooler to grow into a big cooler by watering it. Did you remember to put the liquid feed into the watering can first, Mark?
  • Leaks in the cooling are a nightmare17) Make sure there are no leaks in the cooling system, otherwise you get puddles everywhere. Here Keith does his ‘little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke“ impersonation, while he shouts for someone to turn the cooler off..
  • Taking a break with a mug of tea18) ..and once it‘s sorted, relaxes with a stiff drink ... of tea. Sorry, Keith, the beer‘s not ready yet!
  • Laying the walkway19) Doug and Mark are still building things, this time they are laying the walkway behind the bar.
  • Yet more programs to fold20) Fred has found some more programs that need folding! Good job he‘s already got the cider and perry bar sorted.
  • Putting up posters21) Time to put the finishing touches: Chris puts up some posters...
  • Tidying away all the junk22) ..and Carl tidies away the junk that was left in the middle of the floor. “I‘m sure I‘ve already put that box away THREE times!“

  • Final check on the beers23) Bar manager Colleen does a final check on one of the beers...
  • Fred and Jenny at the cider bar22) ..and we are ready to open: Fred and Jenny, branch secretary and events officer, are ready at the cider and perry bar.
  • Foreign bar is ready23) Tasting panel chair, Dave is ready at the foreign beer bar.
  • Glasses are ready24) Frank and Julia are ready on glasses.
  • Products are ready25) Anne, our branch publicity officer, and Tony are ready on the products stall.
  • Tombola is ready26) Sabine and Steve are ready on the tombola.
  • The bar manager is ready27) Colleen, branch chair, is ready on the bar....
  • Other bar staff are ready28) Julie and the rest of the bar staff are ready.

  • Pubs minister and local MP checks out the festival29) ...which is just as well as the VIP has arrived: Keighley and Ilkley MP and Pubs Minister, Kris Hopkins discusses how the festival works with bar manager Colleen and festival organiser Denny.
  • At last we can serve some beer30) At long last, what it‘s all about. We are open and serving beer...

Back to the “Getting involved” page...

Watch day one of Keighley Beer Festival set-up....

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