The keepers of an ancient tradition in Warwick will be drawing on their ale tasting roots when they stage the town’s annual beer festival at Warwick Racecourse in July.
Warwick Court Leet was established in 1554 to uphold law and order in the town which involved making sure food and drink in the town was fit for local people to consume.
The tasting of ale is the only surviving food and drink ritual dating back to the Middle Ages when a sprig of evergreen would be fixed to pub doors to signify that its ale was good enough to drink.
Warwick Court Leet’s Ale Taster still organises an annual ceremonial tasting at pubs in the town when landlords are presented with a certificate if their ale is declared fit to consume.
Current Ale Taster Graham Sutherland will be re-enacting the ceremony at the beer festival being held at Warwick Racecourse on Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18 to give more locals a glimpse into the Court Leet’s history.
More than 1,200 festival goers are expected to attend the two-day event which will showcase beer and cider, with live music, hot food, and all proceeds going to Warwick charities.
Over 40 real ales and 30 ciders will be available for tasting including tipples from Slaughterhouse Brewery in Warwick, Church Farm Brewery at Budbrooke, Byatt’s Brewery in Coventry, and Church End Brewery at Ansty.
Festival organiser Alan Lettis, one of 24 jurors that make up Warwick Court Leet, said: “Warwick Court Leet has been looking after the town’s ale since 1554 so it is fitting to be running the beer festival this year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
“As well as the chance to sample fabulous local brews, we hope it will give more people a greater insight into the history of Warwick Court Leet and its modern day role in promoting the town and supporting the Mayor in civic functions.
“Warwick is one of only 24 surviving Court Leets in the country and we are hoping to be joined at the festival by Ale Tasters from the other Court Leets in the locality namely Alcester, Henley-in-Arden and Bromsgrove to perform our ale tasting ceremony.”
Huw Williams, general manager of Warwick Racecourse, said: “We are delighted to once again be hosting Warwick Beer Festival which is now in its sixth year and always attracts a crowd of enthusiasts.
“We are one of the oldest racecourses in the country and so it is great to be welcoming Warwick Court Leet which also has such a rich history in the town and country.
“The Warwick Beer Festival is one of many non-racing events staged here throughout the year and we encourage local organisations to make use of our wide range of indoor and outdoor facilities.”
The festival will be open from 4pm to 10pm on July 17 and from 12noon to 10pm on July 18. Admission will be £5 and includes a commemorative glass and copy of the tasting notes.
For more information, visit http://www.warwickbeerfestival.co.uk/
PICTURE CAPTION: Huw Williams is pictured fourth from left in the Winners Enclosure at Warwick Racecourse with, from left to right, Warwick Court Leet’s John Fletcher, Gail Warrington, Graham Sutherland, Malcolm Cook, Roger Smith, Alan Lettis and Keith Hinton.
Notes to Editors
Warwick Racecourse is one of the oldest racecourses in the country and the first to stage a jump race as part of a racecard in 1831, effectively establishing the National Hunt sport. In 2014, it became an all-jumps track with a five-year plan to become one of the UK’s leading small jumps courses. Dan Skelton, one of the country’s brightest young National Hunt trainers, is its ambassador.
Fixture highlights include the Grade 2 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle), Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase and Grade 3 handicap Betfred Classic Chase.
High-quality racing takes place on weekdays and weekends, and afternoons and evenings, from September to May, with a range of meetings to appeal to racing regulars and newcomers alike. More information is available at http://warwick.thejockeyclub.co.uk
Warwick Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2014: £162.9m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2014: 1.8m), total prize money (2014: £43.7m), contribution to prize money (2014: £19.1m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom Downs; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing's people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk.
For further information, please contact:
Alison McConkey, Advent Communications
02476 633636 or 07813 302740