York’s biggest beer festival will be an entirely different brew when it is served up in September.

For years, York CAMRA has staged its popular beer festival at the Knavesmire, but this year the drinkers will be going to church.

Due to York Racecourse bosses staging an extra meet, the annual event is moving to St Lawrence Church and Hall in Lawrence Street.

Festival organiser Karl Smith says the church has been chosen since after the Minster it is the second biggest church in York. It is also a most beautiful building with removable pews.

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It also offers a city centre location just outside the city walls and an indoor event avoids large infrastructure costs.

The new venue plays host from Wednesday September 13 to Saturday September 16.

The first indoor festival since the Priory and Tap & Spile in 2008 will mean a reduced capacity.

Last year was attended by 5,700 with numbers hit by train strikes and mourning for the late Queen Elizabeth, but this year numbers are expected to be just 3,500 with a fire limit set at 600.

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There will be two, rather than three sessions a day (11.30am-4.30pm and 6-11pm). There will also be a trade session on the first day, by invitation only, with the CAMRA members preview starting at 3pm.

Other changes include the festival going cashless, as card/device payments are more secure. Last year most customers paid this way. There will also be no music to keep it simple.

Karl said: “As the event is on a reduced scale, we are planning to engage with York pubs/brewers to develop a Festival Fringe with them doing special activities over the week e.g. special beers, quizzes, promotions etc.”

Last year’s festival saw 500 beers and 90 ciders and perries. But this year, the smaller venue means ‘just’ 200 cask and keg beers, and 40 ciders/perries in addition to wine/mead/ gins as usual.

Karl continued: “Like with pubs, a significant number of customers have not returned after Covid. Due to the Cost of Living Crisis/ raging inflation, all festival costs have risen considerably, whilst we try to keep our prices reasonable.”

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CAMRA is not into making large profits, but it must cover its costs. Casks will be an average £4.50 a pint.

Karl adds the church remains a great venue and the branch has enjoyed working with its team on the festival in recent months. The reduced capacity should mean tickets will sell out and should be bought in advance.

CAMRA branch chairman Chris Tregellis added: “Karl and his team have worked diligently to ensure that we maintain the tradition of hosting a CAMRA beer festival in York; this one will be different to previous ones but I expect it will be just as fun and entertaining.”