Queues of thirsty festival goers turn out for weekend's Northampton County Beer Festival
Streams of beer lovers flooded into Beckets Park over the weekend to celebrate two centuries of beer brewing in Northamptonshire.
In light of the terrorist attacks over recent weeks, beer lovers were met by security guards upon arrival and were rigorously checked over before being allowed entry into the park on the 2 and 4 June.
The event, which originally began in 1974, has grown to showcase the wide range of county drink producers, ale, lager, craft beer, cider and gin.
Beer has been continuously produced in the county ever since Pickering Phipps opened his Northampton brewery on a parcel of land with a riverside wharf at the bottom of Bridge Street in 1817.
Phipps brewed there until May 1974 as Carlsberg gradually took over from them from late 1972 onwards.
“Everyone knows shoes in Northamptonshire, but they don’t know food and drink,” said the festival’s organiser Alaric Neville of Phipps NBC.
“Microbrewing started in Northamptonshire and it is one of my hobbyhorses to tell people about Bill Urquhart and Litchborough brewery.
“And we do that every year at the beer festival and gradually people ar picking up on the fact it's our contribution to culture and the world because microbrewing has become a ‘thing’ all over the world.”
Bill Urquhart founded the world’s first microbrewery in Litchborough in 1974 as a result of the gap left in the local beer market after Phipps demise.
This beer vacuum has been filled by much smaller, independent brewers over the years and has grown to include five cider producers, two gin distillers and a vineyard.
“Northamptonshire is under the radar, it’s the home of the independent artisan British drinks industry,” said Mr Neville.
This year saw beer writer and historian Roger Protz, author of the World Guide to Beer, give a talk on Saturday, and a horse-drawn dray delivered Phipps ales to town centre pubs in the afternoon, likely the first time in over 100 years.
On Sunday there was a demonstration of the ancient art of cooperage, one of the two remaining brewer’s coopers Alastair Sim built and maintained wooden casks on site during the afternoon.
The festival also featured two stages of live music from the best local bands around and a tempting array of food stalls.
Northamptonshire has one of the highest number of breweries per head of population in the UK. There are 23 commercial brewing businesses in the county.
With a population of approximately 725,000 that means a brewery for every 31,500 people in the county.