One of Bedfordshire’s longest servicing landlords is holding his 24th annual beer festival this month – with a plea to beer-lovers to help save the country’s dwindling number of pubs.
Real ale from more than 60 different breweries – including three drawn from traditional wooden barrels – will be on tap at the Engineers Arms in Henlow, CAMRA’s Bedfordshire Pub of the Year.
And former miner Kevin Machin, who is celebrating 30 years behind the bar, is expecting a record turn out at the event which runs from Thursday, October 17 to the following Sunday.
He said: “I’d have been one of the first pubs in Bedfordshire to hold a beer festival back in 1995 and we’ve been listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide every year since then.
“It’s a bit special after being here for 30 years and if every person who claims to have bought the first pint when I opened turns up at the festival then the place will be absolutely packed!”
But Kevin, aged 64 and a half, added: “Drinking culture in the UK has changed a lot over my time behind the bar.
“More than a quarter of young adults now say they do not drink alcohol.
“Only time will tell whether this trend will continue.
“I suspect it will be a topic of conversation for many years to come as pubs continue to close at an alarming rate.
“We need to act together to halt this.
“People need to support their local pubs, encourage others too, and support the numerous campaigns running.
“We will be supporting the ‘Long Live the Local’ campaign during the festival.
“Their leaflets and posters will be spread around the pub and I urge everybody to sign up.”
The Engineers has won a string of awards during the reign of Derby County football fan Kevin, being named CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year six times and the East Anglia Pub of the Year in 2003.
As well as the ale, the festival will also feature 15 ciders and 40 different gins, a hog roast and Mexican and Italian food, as well as pies and pizzas.
> Do you still frequent your local pub? Is there still hope for the industry? Email firstname.lastname@example.org