The popular York Beer and Cider Festival returned to the Knavesmire today (Wednesday), with CAMRA organisers expecting a busy but ‘respectful’ event.

Staged for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic, the festival promises 500 different beers, 90 ciders, plus wine, mead and gin until Saturday.

Some 91 hand-pulls and more than 300 gravity dispense casks have been installed, creating the longest bar in Britain, if not Europe.

York CAMRA branch chairman Chris Tregellis says the branch is pleased to be back.

“Obviously there are difficult circumstances given the death of Her Majesty but we are carrying on in a respectful manner," he said. "Having the festival will help people in this difficult time.”

Wednesday’s festival started with a ‘trade only’ session, from noon, featuring breweries, publicans and others in the trade. Then, CAMRA members could attend, followed by the wider public later in the afternoon.

Among the traders was Brew York co-founder and managing director Wayne Smith, who said everyone in the trade is doing their best with regards to rising energy costs.

Brew York has locked into an 18-month energy contract, but carbon dioxide prices have gone ‘through the roof’ and malt costs have doubled.

York Press: CAMRA chair Chris Tregellis gives the festival the thumbs upCAMRA chair Chris Tregellis gives the festival the thumbs up

“Costs are shooting up and up. We are trying our hardest not to pass the costs on to the consumer but its very challenging,” Wayne said.

“Sales are doing well at the moment but it’s hard to predict how they will go.

“The visitors to the bar in the city centre and our new premises at Osbaldwick are doing well. We appreciate the support. We can’t grumble but we know there are challenges on the horizon.”

Sue Langan, field sales executive of Tockwith-based Rudgate brewery said: “It’s exciting to be back. It’s good to get everybody out again. We are so looking forward to the festival.”

Like Brew York, Rudgate has its own stand, but Rudgate also has Vikings at the stand and parading around the large marquee.

Sue continued: “We are cautious but we know we are going to keep doing what we are doing. We are super busy as we move into Christmas.”

Sheffield-based brewer Brew Social was attending its first-ever festival, following its formation in July. It has three beers at the festival.

Head brewer Richard Hough was looking forward to a good festival, but said: “Business is steady. There’s a lot of brewers out there and a lot of pubs doing less than they used to.”

Among the traders, Danny Drewery and Emma Walker of York-based Gillis Gin Tin were looking forward to their first ever York beer festival.

“We started in January 2020, so it wasn’t a good start, but business is now really good. We started attending events in May, travelling around West and North Yorkshire. It’s exciting to finally be in our own city.

“We have 50 different gins, 40 of them from Yorkshire. We try and use independent gins as much as possible,” Danny added.

York Press: Bernie and Elf enjoy a pintBernie and Elf enjoy a pint

Lizzie Watson, events manager for Yuzu Streetfood of York, was also excited to be at the festival.

The business started in April 2020, just after Covid hit.

Lizzie added: “The event side of things is really starting to take off now.”

But a beer festival is not just about beer. The massive marquee also houses wine, as well as mead from nearby Copmanthorpe.

York Press: Graham WoodsGraham Woods

Wine and mead bar manager Richard Pitwood said: “I’m looking forward to a really great festival. Wine and mead is not the reason we are here. It’s beer and cider but we have to appeal to everybody. We have 200 bottles of Prosecco to go through and hopefully people will enjoy them too!”