Swansea Bay’s Beer & Cider Festival might just boast the youngest festival organisers in CAMRA history.

Swansea University students Chris Freestone, 24, and Aaron Brown, 25, have taken over the reins of the annual festival at Brangwyn Hall, following the recent retirement of Chris Radford, who organised the past five festivals.

Speaking to Swansea CAMRA, Aaron explained his love for real ale grew from early on, as his dad brewed beer at home. He came to Swansea to study a Masters degree in Geography and is now studying for a PhD. He has worked at festivals in Surrey and Southampton, and this will be his fourth Swansea Beer Festival.

Aaron said: “I think we could be the youngest CAMRA beer festival organisers ever, but we’ve both got plenty of experience of bars and beer festivals!”

Chris soon joined Aaron in his appreciation for real ale, after moving to Swansea to study.

Chris said: “I’d never tried real ale until I went on a pub crawl and tried a pint of ale at the Wig and Pen. I thought ‘This is quite nice!’ and I’ve been drinking it ever since.”

The pair were inspired to bring real ale into their university: they set up a real ale society and Chris took an active role overseeing the Students’ Union bars as part of his role as Societies and Services Officer.

Since then, they have been given CAMRA beer festival training and are CAMRA-certified bar managers.

Aaron said of his predecessor, Chris Retford: “[He] has made our job so much easier because of the work he’s put in over the past few years. He’s got every detail covered from costs to risks to procedures. We’ve got all the main roles for the festival covered already. About 50 people turned up to the first beer festival meeting and a lot of people are willing to help out.

“We’ll build on what Chris Radford left us – it’s evolution, not revolution.”

Swansea Bay Beer and Cider Festival will be held at Brangwyn Hall from 22-24 August. The festival will focus on cask ale only, including some beers usually only found in keg.

Swansea CAMRA chairman Paul James paid tribute to Chris’s hard work over the past five years. Paul said: “I’d like to thank Chris on behalf of all Swansea and Neath Port Talbot Camra members for the sterling work he has put in to ensure the smooth running of every single aspect of the festival. His attention to detail and capacity for hard work is legendary and he deserves to put his feet up now and have a few pints himself.

“Meanwhile, I am enthused by the prospect of an injection of fresh ideas as proposed by the new festival team led by Chris Freestone and Aaron Brown.”

Keep up with announcements about Swansea Bay Beer & Cider Festival by following Swansea CAMRA on Twitter and Facebook. 

Feature image photo credit: Kay Byrne. 

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