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History of Braintree Real Ale Festival

It was in 2004 that two members of Braintree Lions Club proposed to their colleagues that the club hold a real ale festival.

The festival was to have three simple aims:

  • to introduce Real Ale to the people of Braintree;
  • raise funds for local charities;
  • to promote the availability of Essex produced Real Ale.

Discussions with members of the North West Essex branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) took place and the decision was made to run the event as a joint venture between Lions and CAMRA.

The first Braintree Real Ale Festival took place in 2005 in a marquee in Weavers Park and has grown each year following a move to Braintree Institute (now Bocking Arts Theatre). The Braintree Real Ale Festival has become a well established annual event in the town. We believe the Braintree event has encouraged more people across the district to try real ale and many pubs around the district now put on real ale events themselves. Many others regularly stock a variety of real beers and ciders, often produced by local breweries. To illustrate the growth and popularity of real ale since our first festival, there are now over 30 breweries of varying sizes within Essex alone. Our 10th anniversary festival only offered Essex beers, to show how many breweries are in Essex.

Since that first Festival in 2005, Braintree Lions Club has raised and donated in excess of £150,000 to local, national and international charitable causes with some £35,000+ coming directly from our Real Ale Festivals. Charities which have benefited from the festivals include Essex Air Ambulance, Marie Curie Cancer Care, The Alzeimers Society, Helen Rollason Cancer Care, Macmillan Cancer Support and many locally based charities.

Although the Braintree Real Ale Festival is not the largest in Essex, the organizers and regular attendees believe it cannot be matched for atmosphere and friendliness.