The annual real ale festival Beerex is celebrating a huge achievement this year by commemorating it’s 40th anniversary. The festival’s popularity has gone from strength to strength since its conception in 1976. In honour of this occasion, we have delved a little further into the history of Beerex and also our own building, the Maltings, to see how the two organisations were destined to work together.
Though not initially built as a centre for beer making, in the 1830s Robert Sampson bought Farnham Maltings and converted it into a working maltings (now backstage and resident artists space) and brewery (now our main building) . After changing hands a few times, Courage Breweries took over the newly named Farnham United Breweries or the Maltings as we now know it in 1925. From the late 1890s to the early 1900s, the brewing and malting industries were a major source of income in Farnham. However the start of the 20th century also saw the development of newer, cheaper methods of malting and this resulted in major economic pressures for the brewery. It eventually led to its closure in 1956 and was left abandoned for 12 years, until Courage offered the Maltings to the town for £30,000 to transform it into an arts and community centre.
Farnham Beerex festival is key in keeping the building’s and the town’s rich beer heritage alive. Back in 1976, two members of Farnham Lions, who were also members of CAMRA, had the idea to a run a one off beer festival for the public. With the equally enthusiastic support of Farnham Maltings, the three organisations delivered the first Beerex in 1977. Now in its 40th year, it is the longest running beer festival in the country being held at the same venue, and it’s original goals of raising money to support local charities and increase awareness of traditional beers and supporting brewers, have continued to be met.
The annual weekend event has raised nearly £750,000 in its history which has been distributed by Farnham Lions to various charities in need of support. Last year alone, it raised £38,042 for Lions’ charitable purposes and had a record breaking number of attendance. This year it promises to be bigger than ever with a huge selection of different beers to sample and a whole host of musical entertainment to enjoy. You can visit their website and follow them on twitter for more details.
Farnham Beerex runs from Thursday 21 April to Saturday 23 April. Tickets for the Friday and Saturday sessions have now sold out. Few tickets still available for Thursday, book them here.