The 15th Derby CAMRA Winter Ale Festival

Travel gurus at Lonely Planet magazine once described Derby as “The Best Place to Drink Real Ale in the World”.


Visitors to the city will have another excuse to try this out for themselves, when the15th Derby CAMRA Winter Ale Festival takes place at the beautifully restored, and historic, Derby Roundhouse from February 20-23.


Featuring over 400 cask ales, ciders, perries, bottled world beers and meads, this year’s festival will also feature a Craft Keg Bar and a gin bar hosted by Blue Monkey Brewery.  There will also be a wide variety of live entertainment: from one of the country’s best Elvis impersonators; to modern rock bands from Derby and beyond.  For more details, visit


British pubs may be closing at the rate of around 18 per week, but Derby is at the forefront of a real ale revival.  Dubbed a “Real Ale Capital of Britain”, the city is able to boast the largest number of real ales per head of population, more than 120 real ale pubs, several micro-breweries, an annual Real Ale Festival…not to mention, Britain’s first, and only, “Beer King”.


A few years ago, Lonely Planetlisted Derby in its top ten listing of the world’s “must see attractions” (for its real ales trail) – an accolade which came just a couple of months after the Good Beer Guidenamed it The First City for Beer, with the ‘Perfect Pub Crawl’ in Britain.  Travel writer Bert Archer, visiting for the Toronto Globe & Mailsubsequently told his readers “why you want to go pubbing in Derby, rather than London”.


The simple fact is that if you want a good pint of ale, then Derby has been theplace to go since the 17th Century.  Three major breweries grew up in Derby: Offilers, Strettons and Altons. It is because of this that Derby had one ale house for every forty people in 1588, and then one ale house to every thirty people in 1688!  By 1633 Derby had an estimated population of just over 85,500 people with around 541 places in which to drink!


Ye Olde Dolphin (dating back to 1530) and The Brunswick Inn (the first railwaymen’s hostelry in the world) are just a couple of the historic pubs in the city worth including on any real ale pub crawl of Derby. As is The Flowerpot pub which, as well as offering B&B, is also a great live music venue for bands.


Another, these days, is The Exeter Arms – a short stroll across the river from Derby’s landmark arts centre, QUAD.  Owned by former AntiPasti punk rock band member Martin Roper, it’s arguably the first pub to offer its guests a full “British Tapas” alongside its carefully kept rack of real ales.


For further details of the Derby CAMRA Winter Ale Festival, visit


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