THIS year’s York Beer and Cider Festival will be the biggest and best yet, say organisers.

If that cry sounds familiar, then that’s because it is. Every year, the Campaign for Real Ale trumpet this event as an improvement on the previous ones. And rightly so.

The boom in Britain’s beer scene, coupled with ever-improved organisation mean this event is a must for locals and for countless beer enthusiasts from around the country.

This year’s event will be the largest outdoor beer festival in the north, with more than 470 beers from more than 120 breweries, plus more than 100 ciders, a wide range of food stalls and live music.

It runs from Wednesday (Sept 14) to Saturday, still on Knavesmire but this time opposite the racecourse grandstand, which the organisers say is more suited to the marquee and large crowds.

The beer range is rightly dominated by Yorkshire breweries, although there are some excellent guests from elsewhere in England and Wales (no Scots this year) plus 20 beers on the foreign bar.


View the full beer list here on the festival website

The vast majority of beers are in cask but there’s also a new keykeg bar, with 8 taps catering for 28 beers over the four days.

New Yorkshire breweries to look out for include Beer Ink from Huddersfield, Chin Chin from South Elmsall, Little Critters from Sheffield, Morton Collins from Ryhill, Sentinel from Sheffield, Steampunk from Castleford, Tarn 51 from Altofts and Wilde Child from Leeds. All of those have sprung up since the 2015 festival, and will be represented on the main bars.

We’ll all be spoilt for choice so I won’t labour the recommendations, but if you’re there with any real ale newbies, then Bad Co’s Comfortably Numb or Brass Castle’s Cliffhanger would be good starting beers, Sunbeam Dusk is a great amber ale from one of the region’s smallest breweries, and Half Moon’s Robustus Lunam is a superb dark choice.

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Look out also for the festival specials, which the organisers helped make: Brew York’s Tonkoko and Ghost’s Elysium. And keep an eye out for a couple of spectacular options: Northern Monk’s Black Forest Gateau Strannik and Waen’s aged Christmas Snowball.

Lastly, look out for the relaunched Yorkshire’s Real Heritage pubs book, copies of which will be on sale near the bars.

Any lingering questions will hopefully be answered in this helpful Q&A from the organisers.

When’s it open?

5.30pm to 11pm on Wednesday; noon to 11pm on the other days.

Can I buy advance tickets?

Yes, at - Advance ticket holders can use paper or e-tickets displayed on a smartphone to bypass any queues.

How much is it?

£3.50 on Wed, £4.50 on Thur and £5.50 on Fri and Sat, with £2 discounts for Camra members.

Do I have to buy a glass?

You need to buy a plastic 'glass' for £2. You can keep it or get your money back when you leave.

How much is the beer?

Prices vary depending on beer strengths, but are as reasonable as possible. It's a cash bar.

Do I have to buy in pints?

No. It's pints, halves or thirds.

Where can I get a beer list?

The 50p programme includes a full list with tasting notes. Bear in mind the range will diminish as beers sell out, and some may be delayed if not ready at first.

Can I bring my own beer?

No; but you can bring soft drinks in plastic bottles.

Can I bring children?

Yes, with a responsible adult, but they will be required to leave by 8pm.

What about dogs?

Dogs that are kept under control and on a lead at all times are allowed.

What if it rains?

There is plenty of standing room in the marquee as well as plenty of seating.

Will I have to queue to get in?

Most of the day there will be no queue (apart from opening time). In 2015 the peak was 10 minutes on Friday night. If we reach our safety limit then we may have to go to “one out - one in”.