FirkinFest X – 2018

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FirkinFest aka Grayshott Beer Festival returned for its tenth year at Grayshott Village Hall on the evenings of Friday 19th & Saturday 20th October 2018.  As has become our custom we use Roman numerals so this year it is FirkinFest X

You can check out where the last nine years went to using the menu links above I to IX.  As you can see it has been a lot of FirkinFun!

And now for this year…


Our regular Friday night entertainment comes in the guise of Binky’s Dixie Demons playing their acoustic Jazz set, specifically requested so you can still hear yourself drink.  Grayshott Jazz Club regulars will appreciate the finer qualities of Binkys unplugged set. Here they are this year…



This year we chose a young local upcoming band to entertain us on Saturday evening. I Witness really got the party started with their covers set once the first few beers have been tasted, and you had to be there to see it…


Such is the popularity of FirkinFest, we sought out the largest village hall in Hampshire, which is happily in easy walking distance of the FirkinRoundabout.  Grayshott Village Hall has a magnificent airy space for the fumes to ascend into and a stage to keep the band members safely above crowd level and vice versa…


This year we had 16 new real ales to sip and savour – all carefully selected after countless sampling sessions, and expertly prepared by our in house beermeister FirkinTony.  Unlike most beer festivals we never repeat an ale at FirkinFest, and search far and wide to find the very best Britain’s breweries have to offer.  We also have an excellent quality control department.

Here was our selection for this year…

Horbury West Yorkshire
Down The Hatch
Blonde Ale
This blonde beer has a fruity citrus nose. Brewed using American Cascade hops as it’s main hop. It has a citrus taste with a hint of lemon. Although it has a good hoppy taste remains a great session beer.
FirkinSponsor: The Gurkha Durbar

Horbury West Yorkshire
Tell No Tales
Dark Mild
This delicious dark mild has a faint coffee nose, and the addition of a little crystal and dark chocolate malts provide a mild coffee finish.
FirkinSponsor: Grayshott Village Cafe & Restaurant

Dark Star
West Sussex
Pale Golden Ale
An extremely clean drinking pale golden ale with a strong floral aroma and elderflower notes from the Cascade hops. This beer is full bodied and full flavoured yet gentle enough to make it a favourite session beer.
Was the festivals favourite beer and sold out first
FirkinSponsor: The Fox & Pelican 

Our first brews of this stout in 2008 were very roasty and we soon realised that we would have to reduce the quantity of roasted barley malt. The flavours of chocolate, liquorice and coffee were then more pronounced and also giving more sweetness. In 2013 we first bottled this stout and it confirms how good it is.
FirkinSponsor: Bayleaf

Birkenhead Wirral
Red Rocks
Ruby Ale
Rich malt flavours combine with Bramling X hops for a wonderful beer with fruity overtones. The brewer’s favourite. This is a typically english ale combining the best of British malts and hops.
FirkinSponsor: R S Purdey Roofing Contractors

Newark Notts
American IPA
Pale Ale
Powerful American hops give this pale ale floral and citrus notes.
FirkinSponsor: Nosh+

Rochdale Lancs
Alchemists Ale
Straw Ale
A refreshing straw coloured ale, with crisp malt flavours and a robust hoppy finish.
FirkinSponsor: Rardley Motors

Piddlehinton Dorset
Strong Blonde Ale
Strong, Blonde and fruity. Plenty of wheat to give a smooth mouthfeel balanced with a fruity punch and gentle floral aroma.  Unfortunately it had contracted a UTI so we sent it back for a refund. 
FirkinSponsor: Trusted PC Man

Reedley Hallows
Burnley Lancs
Nook of Pendle
Amber Ale
An Amber warming ale, with a dried fruit and a malty aroma.
FirkinSponsor: The Grayshott Society

Strathaven Ales
Strathaven Lanarkshire
Old Mortality 80/-
Chestnut Ale
A chestnut coloured ale with a well-rounded malty aroma and a rich dried fruit flavour.
FirkinSponsor: Gould & Chapman – Funeral Directors

Three Brothers
Stockton Teeside
Pale Ale
Lemongrass infused, Hoppy Session IPA  This beer was designed to hold it’s own in flavour but at a noticeably lower ABV.
FirkinSponsor: Grayshott Today

Three Brothers
Stockton Teeside
The Ex-Wife
Chestnut Fruity Bitter
An all English traditional chestnut bitter with a slightly modern fruity twist.
FirkinSponsor: Applegarth

Tring Herts
Side Pocket For A Toad
Straw Hoppy Ale
It’s a toad not a frog! Unmistakable citrus and floral notes from only the best American Cascade hops balanced with a crisp dry finish make this straw coloured ale a fantastic session beer. All that flavour in a 3.6%. Oh Yes.
FirkinSponsor: Gentle Giants Removal Company

Pampisford Cambridge
Meditation Pale
Pale Ale
A beautiful pale ale with blackcurrant, grapefruit and tropical fruit flavours, complex taste of bitterness, hints of apricot, herbs and punchy floral notes. It is easy drinking and refreshing. So kick back, relax and meditate responsibly.
FirkinSponsor: Coloured Courts Ltd – Tennis Courts Construction & Maintenance

Besthorpe Norfolk
Sirius Dog Star
Red Ale
A complex blend of malts and american hops combine to produce this Smooth, fruity Red Ale.
FirkinSponsor: PetsCorner – The Home of Natural Pet Food opening soon in Grayshott.

XT Brewery
Long Crendon Bucks
XT3 West Coast IPA
Pale Ale
An American style IPA – packed with Chinook, Columbus and Cascade hops from the American North West – crisp, clean and refreshing with a lasting hoppy bite.
FirkinSponsor: Grayshott Village Hall

Yorkshire Heart
Nun Monkton York
Hearty Bitter
Chestnut Brown Bitter
Chestnut Brown Ale with bitter toffee flavours. Classic Yorkshire Bitter
FirkinSponsor: The Real Ale Force


FirkinFest has always been a celebration of beer and cider so each year we send out our scout FirkinKaren to research the increasing wide selection of ciders and perrys and to choose six of the best for your delectation.

Here was our selection for this year…

Celtic Marshes
Cracklin’ Rosie Perry
Light refreshing and delicate perry
FirkinSponsor: Peter Leete and Partners

Countryman Cider
Medium smooth mellow slightly tangy real farmhouse scrumpy
FirkinSponsor: Papillon Corporation

Meon Valley
Dry & hint of bittersweets – CAMRA South England champion cider 2018
FirkinSponsor: Grayshott Pottery

Angels Leaf

Medium premium cider infused with garden mint
FirkinSponsor: Light lines

Snails Bank
Fruit Bat
Apple cider blended with Strawberry, Raspberry and Blackcurrant
FirkinSponsor: Bytes Software Services Limited

West Milton
Midnight Stumbler
Medium dry using traditional cider apples from West Dorset
FirkinSponsor: Grayshott Social Club


You will need a FirkinTicket to get in but we always let you out for free.  FirkinTickets are available to buy from Lightlines or Grayshott Social Club or online.  Buying your tickets in advance is recommended to avoid potential disappointment and to save £2.50 per ticket towards your FirkinTokens.  FirkinFriday is £5 and FirkinParty is £10  or you can buy FirkinBoth for £15.  If not sold out they will also be available on the door for an extra £2.50 each, but please don’t count on it.  Last year we did sell out!!!
Don’t buy any now as you are too late


Everyone gets a commemorative pint or half FirkinGlass to use at the festival and take home to treasure and add to their collection.  We have spare glasses available at FirkinFest from previous years, for the serious collector and particularly clumsy.


No beer festival would be complete without a drinking guide.  Our FirkinGuide put together by FirkinDavid not only gives a complete list of ales and ciders with all the various tasting parameters, colour, strength, nuances, etc, but also, and most importantly, includes a tick list so you don’t forget where you have got up to, or waste valuable drinking time working out where to start again.


Embracing the cashless society many years ago, and adopting the very latest technology available at the time, we invented FirkinTokens.  These fully disposable and plastic free eco-friendly tokens can be purchased at the FirkinFayre and later exchanged for halves or pints of any ale or cider at the festival, and if unused they will safely decompose in the washing machine after the event has finished.  The current exchange rate is £3.50 a FirkinPint or £10 for three – this has proved a popular starting point for most FirkinPunters.  No refunds!


Because we had none and some people did, we added a small selection of wines, based on colour rather than flavour, to our offering.  We had a similar complaint from lager drinkers which we chose to ignore.  Wine can be purchased by the bottle, if you are feeling brave, or by the glass from the FirkinFayre in the small hall.  Just ask for white, red or pink.


No beer festival would be complete without cracking a molar open on a pork scratching.  We also have softer snack alternatives for those with a nervous disposition, private dentists or dentures.  Occasionally we have some requests for soft drinks and, although this goes against the grain, we do offer all sorts of tooth dissolving alcohol free products to keep everyone happy.


FirkinMan or FirkinWoman cannot live on snacks alone, so at no cost at all, we invite along the nosh+ wagon with their range of burgers, dogs and burritos to help soak up the beer and enhance the atmosphere.


Rather than stick your head in the sand you can sign up to our FirkinList and receive regular email updates about the upcoming festival.  Just fill in the form on the top right of this page.  If you bought tickets online in the past or voted for your favourite beer at the festival and gave us your email address we have already added you to the list on the basis that you are probably still interested and there is an unsubscribe link in the emails if you are not.   So simple is our FirkinEmail system that even a monkey could operate it.


This is all the work of FirkinJohn and so much fun to play with, so download the free FirkinApp for html5 or IOS


View endless photos from the last nine years on Flickr


Many thanks to our main sponsor Rob Purdey and to all our 23 FirkinSponsors this year:

We now have all our FirkinSponsors for this year

For a £50 donation you will receive

  • 2 complimentary tickets for each session worth £30
  • Your company name/logo above your Firkin at the festival
  • Listed as the sponsor of your Firkin in the FirkinGuide
  • Listed on this webpage under your Firkin and in the list above with a link to your own website

If you would like to become a FirkinSponsor please contact: –  FirkinDavid by email at


David Phillips, Tony Legat, Peter Hatch, Graham Pullen, Russell Cupitt. Julie Mcleod, Chloe Pert, Matt Prentice, Danny Parkes and Dave Sharp

You can contact us using the contact form or email

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