The church has a rich and tasty relationship with beer. The beers brewed by religious orders were often richer and higher in alcohol than those drunk everyday, perhaps to sustain the monks during fasts. In Britain medieval church houses hosted ‘church ales’ to raise funds. They were banned by Oliver Cromwell and many became ordinary alehouses. To this day ancient churches are often near an old pub. Today’s beer festivals, bringing together local craft ales in unique surroundings, can be seen as a step back in time to the medieval church ales. Welcome to the land of hops and glory!

Get a roundtable in

Witney Roundtable’s beer festival is held in the magnificent landmark building of St Mary’s. Its origins go back to Norman times but the present building is mostly 13th century and was dedicated in 1243. The church benefits from a share of the takings, helping to care for the building. Every April this stunning Oxfordshire church hosts over 65 beers and ciders in gorgeous surroundings //

St Mary the Virgin, Witney

Old town beer festival

Old Town beer and cider festival returns to Christ Church every May. Thirsty Wiltshire revellers enjoy a variety of ale and cider, including a green beer, a black cider and an ale named Stevenette’s Sprint after the vicar, Simon Stevenette. On the Sunday there is also a special beer and hymns service, open to all //

Christ Church, Swindon

A little more conversation

Beer drinking and historic churches may not seem an obvious combination, but in one Shropshire village the idea goes down a storm. The event is now a fixture of the village's calendar in May. Revd Mary Wade says ‘People who have never been in a church before have come in and looked around. Last year it led to conversations with people in the village I would not have had otherwise’.

St Mary Magdalene, Albrighton

Liver birds & live music

The popular Merseyside beer festival runs biannually over Mayday weekend. There are ales from microbreweries all over the country, a gin garden, wine and prosecco. There is also live music from local talent. The Friends of Old Christ Church are working to transform this striking Victorian church into a venue for markets, festivals, exhibitions and fairs, at the heart of local life.

Christ Church, Waterloo

Celtic connections

The festival is held in July in the beautiful surrounds of St Clement’s church. While much of the UK’s beer revolution has been driven from England, Celtic cousins from Ireland, Wales & Scotland have caught up fast. Chorlton Festival is a showcase of some of the best. There is an amazing choice of well over 100 cask and keg beers and over 50 ciders and perries at this Greater Manchester festival //

St Clement, Chorlton

Modern day medieval church ales

Held in the 14th century St Andrews church every July (and now a Winter festival too), Sutton beer festival started in 2008. The festival has raised over £8,000 towards maintenance of the building, and aims to raise even more for this magnificent Cambridgeshire church with each new festival //

St Andrew, Sutton in the Isle

Saintly beer festivals

Home to a number of beer festivals through the year. The Maritime Beer & Cider Festival in August brings gorgeous new beers and ciders to Suffolk with brews from local brewers especially for the occasion. The Beer & Blues Fest in October celebrates the best of the Blues alongside American craft beers and ales. St Peter’s is a redundant mariners church, cared for by Ipswich Hospital Band and a centre for Music and the Arts.

St Peter by the Waterfront, Ipswich

Bombed out beer festival

If you've never been inside St Luke's or its gardens then this is the perfect opportunity. Even better, in August, you can enjoy the surroundings whilst sampling some of the delicious ciders and ales on offer. There are 100 ciders and 100 real ales, alongside canned beers, wines, prosecco and spirits. Whatever your tipple, it’s covered, along with hot food, from local providers //

St Luke, Liverpool

Good people love good beer

In Northern Ireland there is a beer festival with a vision, to bring people together in a special location to share exceptional beer and great local food. The festival has made Carlisle Memorial Church their spiritual home, and people love it. Every year in early September they work with Belfast Buildings Trust to open those special doors and bring 30 taps and the best beer they can find from great breweries //

Carlisle Memorial Church, Belfast

Beer & beatiful bricks

Who would come to a church beer festival? Around four hundred people came to the first St Andrew’s Beer Festival in September 2016, and over £1,000 was raised for WaterAid. The event is now held biannually, with funds helping to care for this lovely Victorian Church.

St Andrew, Hertford

Toast of the town

Rastrick Beer Festival always plan to be the toast of the town. Happening every September, the festival features intriguingly named national and local ales and ciders on offer. Previous festivals have raised thousands of pounds for both the much loved Victorian church and local charities //

St John, Rastrick

Land of hops & glory

A true Lincolnshire Oktoberfest in the wonderful St Wulfram’s church. There are over 50 beers, 20 ciders and perries, mead and mulled wine. There is also an experimental gin bar! The church has changed little since the 15th century, and is gloriously open and light. Drink in the atmosphere and heritage, whilst enjoying a lovely local brew.

St Wulfram, Grantham

City of beer culture

This Yorkshire festival takes place in November at Hull Minster. There are over 130 cask ales, many from local breweries. The festival features Hull’s longest hand pump bar, serving real ales from casks an array of local ciders and a selection of bottled beers from around the world. The Minster is a remarkable medieval parish church with magnificent painted ceilings and numerous memorials to the people of Hull //

Hull Minster, Hull

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