Friday 18 April 2014
If truth be told, Margate in recent years has not been a place seen as an attractive proposition for day-trippers. Outsiders would view it as, alongside many seaside towns throughout Britain, a place in a gradual and sad decline. However, perhaps there is something to be said for Margate. Displaying a characteristically British stiff upper-lip, the people of the Thanet town are not going to down without a fight, and certain parts of the town are going through something of a renaissance, with the ‘Old Town’ sector now a particular highlight, with the community pulling together to resurrect the derelict Dreamland as a new attraction to pull people down to the coast. But what else can pull in punters? Good beer and Planet Thanet Beer Festival of course.
As it was, I decided late on Thursday to spend Good Friday (and a part of Easter Saturday!) down on the Kent coast having been invited to Thanet CAMRA’s Planet Thanet Easter Beer Festival, held in the famous Margate Winter Gardens. Given my preconceptions of Margate (and that’s not a slight on the town – I have many fond childhood memories from there) and not knowing anything of the previous Planet Thanet Easter Beer Festivals, I was honestly expecting a quiet and more, shall I say, mature festival. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Winter Gardens was a hive of activity, with a real buzz in the air and the young and old packed in to the rafters. The 200-plus real ales were racked along the back of the grand hall, with the ciders and perries along the side. There was a sense of pride in the Kentish ales, as they were rightly given their own section, where punters could choose from ales that had come from all over the county, from South Darenth to Folkestone, Westerham to Deal. The national selection was equally as varied, with ale travelling from as far as Orkney to be sampled by the Men (and Women) of Kent.
A flash of my CAMRA membership card gained me free entry, whilst parting with a £10 note got me my commemorative beer glass and some tokens to whet my appetite. At an average of about £1.50 per half of quality beer, there could no complaints over value for money. The option to go and sup your ale in the glorious coastal Easter sunshine was a great touch as well, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more relaxed and friendly. Add in the entertainment of Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs in the afternoon and Wireless in the evening, and you were guaranteed to enjoy yourself.
If next Easter you’re at a loose end and fancy a trip to the Kent coast, then look no further than the Planet Thanet Easter Beer Festival. Good beer, good music, good people and family friendly – spot on.
- Woof by Animal Brewing Company
- Pressed Rat & Warthog by Triple fff Brewery
- Rabbit Punch by The Coach House Brewing Co
- Iced Tea Ale by Pilot
- Gravesend Guzzler by Millis
- Tiger Rut by Millstone
- White Boar by The Village Brewer
- Hampshire Rose by Itchen Valley Brewery
- The Goldsmith by Hop Fuzz Brewery
- London Stone by Ha’penny Brewing Company
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