Summer is a time for beer festivals. I’ve been to a couple recently, with the Great British Beer festival at Olympia happening this week.

Recent events have included the Epping and Ongar Real Ale Festival and Ealing Beer Festivals. Epping and Ongar last month, took place at the North Wield railway station.

It all started with a vintage bus journey to North Wield from Epping station – the buses were waiting outside, upon arrival at Epping.

The Epping and Ongar Railway is run by enthusiasts, with diesel and steam engines pulling some carriages from the 1970s and 80s. On the day of the beer festival, there were trips along to Ongar station and back up to Epping. No station at Epping, so the train stopped in the forest, then came back. A number of real ales were available on board.

Back at North Wield station, there was a marquee, with beers drawn from Essex and London, though there were others from further afield, such as Newcastle and Somerset. The drink of the day, though, was a cider – Farmer Jim’s Rhubarb Bob from Devon.

It was a fantastic day, the smell of the steam trains, with the coal being stoked into the boiler. There is a great spirit of friendship between people at the festivals, as people are drawn in from all walks of life. The tanned bohemians together with the suited and booted city types. Young and old, everyone mingling together.

The Ealing Beer Festival was set in Walpole Park, with marquees surrounding a central area where people sat in the sun. A bigger event, there were 500 plus beers to choose from on the day. Again the geographical spread was impressive. London dark porters to Manchester reds and lighter citrus ales from Suffolk. All a Central Line journey away.

The Great British Beer festival (GBBF) is the biggest event spreading across Olympia. Beers and ciders aplenty plus games and music. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)’s champion beer competition takes place over the five days of the festival. Thousands flock into this event from far and wide.

The East London and City branch of CAMRA were involved in the Epping and Ongar beer festival and will be at the GBBF. Later, in December, they play a major part in the Pigs Ear beer festival held in Hackney.

Local businesses also support the festivals.

So when will the first Redbridge beer festival take place? We’ve got the open spaces: Christchurch Green in Wanstead, Valentines Park in Ilford and the town centre. We just need the movers and shakers (or should that be drinkers) and it could happen.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See