Sunderland real ale lovers host milestone beer and cider festival

Drinkers enjoy a previous beer festival.
Drinkers enjoy a previous beer festival.

Real ale lovers will celebrate two milestones at their annual beer festival later this month.

Next weekend’s event marks 40 years since the Sunderland branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) was founded.

Sunderland and South Shields Camra chairman Michael Wynne promotes a previous festival..

Sunderland and South Shields Camra chairman Michael Wynne promotes a previous festival..

The three-day festival will also showcase a new beer to celebrate a decade since the launch of the Maxim Brewery brought famous beers such as Double Maxim and Samson back to the city.

Michael Wynne, the chairman of the branch, which now covers Sunderland and South Tyneside, said: “It is going to be a special occasion as it is our 40th year and 10 years for the Maxim Brewery here.

“When I first joined we had around 160 members but that has shot up to 640 thanks partly to the growth of craft ales and micro breweries and we are hoping we can reach 700 at the festival.”

The event, now called the Sunderland Beer and Cider Festival to reflect the recent resurgance in cider’s popularity, will be held for the first time at The Point, in Holmeside, Sunderland, following the closure of previous venue the Bonded Warehouse.

It will witness the unveiling of Maxim’s 1040 beer to mark both the branch’s and brewery’s anniversaries as well as the 4.0 per cent ruby red ale’s gravity.

Described as containing “refreshing and mildly spiced blackcurrant flavours” and leaving “a smooth creamy finish on the palette”, it will be joined by around 40 beers and 12 ciders.

Echoing the change in local government boundaries in the 1970s, Sunderland Camra broke away from the County Durham branch in 1977 and held its first meeting at the former Salem Hotel, in Salem Street, Hendon.

South Tyneside members joined in the early 1980s after defecting from the Tyneside and Northumberland branch.

Mr Wynne said: “We have more members from Sunderland because of its size but will move our monthly meetings around so that we have one meeting in Sunderland, Washington or Houghton and then one in South Shields, Jarrow or one of the Boldons.”

Sunderland’s own Octoberfest takes place on Thursday, October 12, and Friday, October 13, from noon-11pm and Saturday, October 14, from noon-7pm “or when the beer has gone”.

Entry is £10, including a souvenir tankard and three beer tokens, with further details available from www.sundfest.camra.org.uk

The event will also raise cash for nominated charity the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.