BEER lovers descended on the Meca on Saturday for a night of sampling and dancing at Swindon’s answer to Oktoberfest.

The sell-out ale bonanza saw no fewer than 600 patrons fill the venue to enjoy a fresh drink and bratwurst to the sound of traditional music in true Bavarian festival style.

Reinforcing the typically German atmosphere were waitresses clad in the obligatory lederhosen.

On the back of last year’s success organisers Beerfest UK pulled out all the stops this time around by increasing capacity from 550 to 600 and prolonging the event’s opening hours to offer guests a night to remember.

Eddie Henwood, operations manager for Beerfest UK said the festivities were not merely a celebration of Germany’s popular wheat beers but a way to bring a rich and long-standing tradition and culture to Swindon.

“We are not just a large German beer tent,” he said. “We try to bring a bit of German culture to Swindon. We have table service mimicking German beer festivals as part of the experience and an oompah band to bring that German flavour. It’s a completely different atmosphere from English beer festivals.

“Swindon is always a 100 per cent sell out and we want to make this an annual event.”

The festival’s Bavarian feel was given the seal of approval by impressed guests hoping to immerse themselves in a completely different culture for the night.

For others like Hilal Mason, of Penhill, who grew up in Germany, it was the ideal way to get a taste of home right on her doorstep.

“I have been to British festivals before, but never to a German beer festival in the UK,” said the 53-year-old Morrisons’ employee. “It really is like a German festival with the music and traditional outfits and the food. It’s nice to be able to have that in Swindon. I think it’s an absolutely great idea. It opens up the door to other cultural events in Swindon.

“And everybody here is enjoying it. It got busy quickly and it’s getting busier and busier.”

Her husband John, 58, an NERC employee, added: “We both wanted to come because we both like German beers. And we would come again.”