Here for the beer in Chippenham, but women stay away

This Is Wiltshire: Beer lovers fill the hall at the Olympiad Beer lovers fill the hall at the Olympiad

Chippenham’s beer festival could be brewing up romance after being hailed by some festival goers at the weekend as the best place to meet a man.

The 22nd Chippenham Beer Festival was attended by nearly 2,000 people, with a majority of men, in the Olympiad sports hall on Friday and Saturday.

Mary Shepherd, 34, of Monkton Park, said: “I’m going to bring all my single friends here next time.

“It’s a lovely, safe, well-lit environment for women.”

Steve Hughes, 41, of Monkton Park, said: “It’s a really good event, but I’d like to see more women here next year.”

Gareth MacDonald, chairman of the festival committee and vice-chairman of organisers North West Wiltshire CAMRA, said: “We focus on the real ales, but what other people choose to focus on is up to them!”

Festival-goers got to choose from nearly 100 real ales, 17 ciders and five perries from across the country, including ciders as strong as 7.8 per cent.

Steve Warner, 33, of Monkton Park, is a fan of the festival. He said: “I just love the ambience, it’s so sociable, everyone chatting and trying each other’s drinks. You wouldn’t get that in a pub, people asking if they can have a sip of your pint, but here it’s fine.”

The winning beer, voted for by people at the festival, was Dark Star’s American pale ale from Partridge Green in West Sussex. Joint first place for the ciders went to Westons’ Old Rosie and White Label by the Handmade Cider Company in Slaughterford.

Dave Wicks, 38, of Pewsham, said: “It just goes to show how acceptable the Chippenham audience can be – we don’t always need to have large chain style pubs to enjoy a good night out.”

One 42-year-old man even dressed in lederhosen, German leather breeches, that he had bought especially for the occasion. “It is an investment,” he said. “I come every year, it’s great to have such a choice.”

Wiltshire ales offered include Thrudger from Braydon in Lyneham, Wheat a Second from Willy Good ale in Winsley, and Before the Storm from Shed Ales in Pewsey (brewed in a back garden shed).

Real cider and perry is served at The Three Crowns, Chippenham; The Bell, Lacock; The Jolly Huntsman, Kington St Michael and The Brewery Inn, Seend Cleeve.

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