How to survive your first Real Ale festival at Warwick

Expect to get smashed

Drinking at the University of Warwick revolves around three things, Purple, circling and your overdraft.

It’s a continuous drag of Wednesday Pop, Friday Neon and Monday Kasbah and it’s understandable that you might get a bit sick of it. Therefore whenever a chance comes along to break the never ending cycle of cheap lagers, banter Fantas and Blossom Hill wines, you should embrace it like your saviour.

The Warwick Real Ale Society festival this Thursday is such an opportunity. Try new things at what is the biggest student-run Real Ale festival in the world with hundreds of beers, wines and ciders that you won’t get to try anywhere else. But “why shoild I get involved in such an event?” I hear you ask, well we asked Warwick Real Ale society exactly the same question, and these were their answers.

There is something for everyone

Whilst lager is refreshing, it’s also bland, everyone has tried it, and not everyone likes that same hoppy flavour night after night. The drinks at a Real Ale festival come in all sorts of flavours, from chocolate and coffee, porters and stouts, mango ciders to ginger wines, there is something for everybody to try.

You have to be willing to embrace new things and possibilities, we accept that Ale might not be for everyone, but as the old adage says, you can’t know until you’ve tried it. If you’re new to Ale stick to the lighter stuff with lower percentages, like the golden Ales and cask lagers, but always be willing to branch out a little.

We know purple is obviously the Warwick classic, so we’ve come up with our own version, called (rather ominously) the Turbo purple, which is a concoction of  1/3 10% Old ale, 1/3 Gladiator cider 8% and 1/3 Blackcurrant wine, to really give it that Warwick touch, we advise everyone to try it, but don’t drink as much of it as you would on a circle, or it might kill you.

Be prepared to get smashed

Get a free ale guide the moment you walk, and see what sounds good and has been recommended. Start with lower percentages, stick to around four percent and slowly work your way up as you will grow into the festival. Most people drink half pints, which is a really good way to try more beers, and find out what you think is more your kind of style.

Don’t worry this isn’t a pub, people won’t make fun of you because you’re drinking halves, everyone’s just there to see and try as much as possible. Also, don’t get put off just because you’ve had a bad experience with a beer, normal beers taste pretty much identical, and whilst many of the Ales will seem similar to the unaccustomed palette, as you drink more, you will begin to appreciate the subtle differences, which is why so many people enjoy events like this. 

Absolutely everyone is welcome

Real Ale festivals attract people from all sorts of backgrounds, not just the Ale-spotter aficionados, who look like a cross between train spotters and geography teachers, but people from a wide range of sub-cultures as well. We get old school Punks, Fantasy and Sci-fi lovers, Metal heads, and those obsessed with cosplay and steampunk. But we also have familiar faces in the old exec and Warwick students who come back year after year. Some good advice then, don’t wear anything open-toed, or it might get crushed under a stampede of Doc Martin’s.

It’s not expensive

Attracting such a wide range of people means that Real Ale has a whole culture of its own to embrace. From singing to Hog roasts, you’ll see the very best in traditional English drinking culture from around the country. Big bands and folk singers mingling with chants for more beer, and probably a few familiar theme tunes thrown in for good measure, there is something that everyone can relate to and enjoy. Apart from getting drunk on Friday night which we all do anyway. Real Ale is not an expensive hobby and at the Warwick festival, Friday is the big student night, so it’s a perfect pre-ing opportunity before Neon!

Ale is about individuality, expressing yourself however you want, and if you want to have a good time you can, there is something to do for everyone, have a drink and sing along. Find the weirdest thing you can and try it, and if you dont like it, it’s only half a pint, down it and move on. Never get put off by one bad beer when there are over a hundred to try, odds are you will find at least one that you like.