A spectacular overnight thunderstorm failed to deter real ale and cider enthusiasts who turned up in record numbers to the East Malling beer and cider festival, held on Saturday 2 September at NIAB EMR, the world-famous horticultural research station in East Malling, with the last pint being served as the final drumbeat sounded on the music stage.

The event, the eighth organised and staffed by local real ale and cider campaigners from the Maidstone and Mid-Kent branch at the venue.

Festival organiser Jeff Tucker said: “Real ale and cider fans showed their continued support of the festival, which was blessed with fantastic weather. It was great to see such a large turn-out, with every drop of ale and cider sold by the time we called last orders. We reckon that our volunteers managed to serve a pint every 3.5 seconds.”

Maidstone and Mid-Kent branch chairman Ian Clennett said: “The festival is now well-established as a popular event for all the family, with the wonderful surroundings at East Malling making the perfect backdrop. We will be back in September 2018 with an even bigger and better event.”

‘Beer of the Festival’, as selected by a panel of Real Ale enthusiasts, was Orkney Best, from Swannay Brewery in Evie, Orkney, with 77, from Heavy Industry Brewing in Henlan, Denbighshire, as runner-up.

A separate panel adjudged Red Love, from Biddenden, as winner in the Best Cider or Perry category, with Ciderfect, from BEARDspoon in Sellindge as runner-up. Orkney Best was also the fastest-selling beer, as drinkers rushed to sample the winning brew. The fastest selling cider was Salted Caramel from Dudda’s Tun in Doddington.

A pledge by Festival organisers to donate a sum equivalent to unused drinks tokens returned by visitors raised £340 for Demelza, the children’s hospice, which provides vital care to families across Kent, East Sussex and South East London.

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