I've been going to the "Beer Exhibition" on and off for a number of years but first of all I must point out two things - this is not about the Maltings per se as I've not visited in any other capacity, also I'm a paid up member of CAMRA.
Ok, so this may well be the longest running beerfest at the same location but it's not a proper CAMRA run event and I don't know why they associate themselves - it's a LIONS event and I suspect a vehicle for the "great and good" to say how much they raise and no doubt hope for an appearance in the New Years Honours list. My gripe is two fold - they only give you half pint mugs and there's no form of discount for CAMRA members (usually discount ticket or free vouchers). Knowing the mug situation I take my own pint glass (with half mark) but this year the staff were totally officious and at times made me have the mug filled which I had to decant - what's their problem?! Every CAMRA festival I attend (and it's many) people take their own tankards etc if they want and so long as they've got correct measure points then there's no complaint. Proper festivals are staffed by CAMRA volunteers (here it's a mix) who are invairbly friendly and cheerful - the Farnham Fiasco is staffed mainly by LIONS volunteers who for the main part appear under sufferance as no doubt this is not the level to which they would normally stoop or the people they would normally associate with (but they do sport super name badges which make them look like contestants from a dating agency). The range/selection of beers is also pitiful for a "Beer Exhibition" and I wonder why the usual big names don't appear? The age and profile of attendees is to my mind not the usual diverse mix of revellers you can expect at "proper" festivals. If you live local and haven't visited the Woking or Battersea Fests (as examples) then I suggest you do to make an informed comparison.
So in summary - avoid like the plague if you want the usual and expected CAMRA experience.
Please note - before anyone thinks of responding to my negativity I stress this is my personal view and so suck up the criticism and do something about it for next year (but of course I won't hold by breath as why would you change from the "cash cow" tried and tested formula).
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