DESPITE uncertainty about the weather, an estimated 9,000 people attended this year’s Worcester Beer Festival.

Held once again at Pitchcroft race course, there was initially some uncertainty surrounding whether it would go ahead at all.

Organiser Pete Thorogood said CAMRA was busy with its Great British Beer Festival, taking place over the same weekend in London.

“We made a committee decision to run with it regardless,” he said. “But it was only by a slight majority.”

In the end, the fears were short-lived and CAMRA came up trumps – supplying all the usual equipment needed allowing for Worcester’s 19th festival to be the biggest yet.

“It’s hard work and by the time it opens on the first day, you can’t quite believe it’s come together,” said Mr Thorogood, of Callow End.

“All those little disagreements in the committee meetings – then suddenly things start happening. The set up went amazingly smoothly. Everyone knows their role.”

An army of volunteers works round the clock across the festival weekend, but the work starts months before.

Mike Vater, a volunteer and former committee member, said: “It’s a mammoth task which starts around September time.

"We put the feelers out and see what the breweries have got to offer. You spend hours researching and making notes on the computer.”

Those who have worked the festival every year since its beginnings in 1999 – back then over on Chapter Meadow – are a rare breed: but Ken Davie can’t get enough.

Originally from Fife, the real ale connoisseur also ran the Scottish Beer Festival between 2004 and 2007.

He said it’s all about getting the right balance of different types to keep the punters happy, going on to describe a cutthroat selection process.

Many products get refused just weeks or even days before the festival begins because the quality just isn’t right.

Mr Davie, who now lives in Yorkshire, said he couldn’t possibly pick a favourite ale from this year’s batch, but said the strongest weighed in at 10.5 per cent volume.

“With really good strong beer you don’t realise how strong it is until you try and stand up,” he said.

There’s a clear evolution taking place year on year at the festival and Mr Thorogood said that’s crucial.

From attracting new sponsors – Gtech had a stand for the first time – to bigging up new brands – fledgling local microbrewery The Hop Shed was selling its newest booze to customers as they left – it all allows for the festival to grow and continue.

Part of the appeal in the early days was offering local people the chance to try locally brewed produce but nowadays many of the city’s pubs do that every day.

So now there’s more focus on bringing in offerings from across the UK – with ales from Cornwall and Scotland and everywhere in between getting showcased.

“It’s a huge part of Worcester – part of the establishment,” said Mr Thorogood.

“If we stopped doing it, someone else would step in, but it wouldn’t be the same. We’ve gained so much experience over the years.”