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Browett, Morrissey and legends to open Beer Fest - see Browett's tips here!

17 May 2019

It's official: two of Palace's best known faces are heading down for the 2019 Beer Festival and will open the annual event to punters... Of course, it's former co-chairman Stephen Browett and 'Men Behaving Badly' star and brewer of 'Palace Ale', Neil Morrissey.

The pair will head down for this year's festival and cut the red tape alongside other Palace legends who will be in attendance to compete in the Palace for Life Foundation's Play With Legends charity match. 

To help you into the mood for the festival this year, we spoke with Browett to get his advice and tips on how to navigate the beers...

Once a year, in a small but well-known and noisy corner of south London, hundreds of shorts-clad Palace fans slowly gather in a near-pilgrimage for two of life's most pilgrimage-worthy pleasures: Crystal Palace and beer.

The annual phenomenon sees the crowd come together between midday and 7pm to soak up the south London sun, watch the FA Cup final over a pint from a choice of almost 200 beers and ciders, enjoy a monster-sized BBQ and watch entertainment from an array of local musicians.

In the words of former Palace co-chairman and Beer Fest founder Browett, it's one big end of season party.

"I like to think it was my idea originally when we did the first one in 2011 and it’s become a sort of traditional, end of season party," he explained. "I think it’s grown to become bigger and better every year really. It’s a great combination of an incredible choice of beer plus the entertainment with the football on the pitch and the cup final as well.

"It started off as a celebration of our first year [as owners in 2011]. There wasn’t a massive amount to celebrate because we didn’t get promoted or anything but in those days after Palace very nearly went out of business in 2010, it was just a sense of achievement to have completed a season not being relegated and sort of starting our way up the ladder of success.

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"Fortunately we got promoted a couple of years later and I think things went really well. It was very much a party to celebrate the first year of ownership of CPFC 2010."

Now with an almost cult-like but not inconsiderable following, the Beer Festival is in its ninth year and is set to be hosted again on May 18th. The afternoon will see the regular attendees return alongside a host of new faces to enjoy the Palace for Life Foundation's Play With Legends match, the FA Cup final, local artists such as Roger Samuels, Slider and the South London Jazz Orchestra and, of course, the trademark array of beers and ciders which once again go on sale.

And as a self-proclaimed beer expert, Browett is well placed to advise anyone heading down or considering it - punter, player or even performer - on the best tipples available.

Here's your in-depth guide from the man who knows. Take note...

"There’s a huge range from dark mild, which are dark and smooth and not hoppy, to incredibly well-hopped and exotic beers. There are also stouts; there’s a range of strengths. There are some that are light, there are some that are rich and heavy; there’s a complete range of styles and strengths and colours. Whatever style of beer you like, there is something there for you.

"I like the idea that we very much support new, up-and-coming, small microbreweries in our local area. So it’s great that we’ve got breweries like Bexley, Brockley, By The Horns, obviously Cronx in Croydon, we’ve got Belleville and Sambrooks from Wandsworth and London Beer Factory from West Norwood.

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"It’s great that we support our new, local breweries because when Young’s brewery in Wandsworth closed down, that was the last of the traditional south London breweries gone. When they stopped in 2006 there literally wasn’t a single brewery left in south London but there’s been a real upsurge in lots of independent breweries so it’s really great that we can support them and showcase them in our Beer Festival."

The real tip-off? Browett's go-to choice for this year's event: Citra by Oakham.

He explained: "We’ve got some of the real, classic, independent breweries from across the country too. One of my big favourites is from a brewery called Oakham and they’ve got a beer called Citra, which is a very hoppy, dry and exotic beer. That’s one of my absolute favourites.

"I’m also very keen on Thornbridge, which is from Derbyshire. Also there’s a great little brewery from south Wales called Tiny Rebel that’s been getting a lot of good press. These are beers that you just won’t find normally in our area. I think the vast majority of the beers in our festival, you couldn’t find them in any pub in south London at all."

Though perhaps that censorship comes as no small surprise for some of the variations on sale which, while undoubtedly worth the plunge, only attract the most daring of punters.

"There’s a beer from Pennine called Rhubarb and Ginger, that’s fairly bizarre. The Triple Chocoholic by Saltaire is a chocolate stout, so like Guinness but it’s got chocolate in it. So if you like dark beer and you like a beer with a bit of sweetness, that could be your drink.

"On the sort of exclusive front, I think Cronx are brewing a couple of beers with fruit. They’ve got a Cherry Pale and a Raspberry Pale, I think those are exclusive for this Beer Festival.

"Also there are a couple of brothers who are big Palace fans and they recently started their own brewery, called the Pretty Decent Beer Company. Their uncle is Jim Piddock who many supporters will know. I’ve been to their brewery – which is in a railway arch in Leytonstone - and am now looking forward to trying their beers here. They’ve got an American Pale - made with US hops - and a Porter. That’s quite special.

"There is something for everyone there, whatever your taste in beer is."

And if your ale preference is - understandably - not of the chocolate or rhubarb variety?

"For people who’ve only really experienced lagers, have one of the pale ales, which is not going to shock you in terms of being too rich or dark. The pale ales are pretty refreshing in style, it’s just that they’ve got a lot more flavour than a standard lager."

It's not just beers though and as well as the extraordinary range on offer, Browett was keen to mention that there will be around 50 different farmhouse ciders available. Many of these have never been seen in our area before and they include some that are flavoured with exotic fruit like mango, pomegranate, passionfruit and elderflower. There’s even a sticky toffee pudding cider and a perry – which is made from pears rather than apples.

But don't be put off by the names, varieties and tastes flying from your screen - at the end of the day, the Beer Festival is for football fans to come together and enjoy a pint (whatever form it may take), watching football among the terraces of Selhurst Park. Lager-lout or stout-swiller, that's something we can all enjoy.

And Browett concurs: "I can’t think of anything better than sitting in the Holmesdale stand with a pint in my hand watching Andy Johnson score goals. That’s as good as it gets.

"I hope as many people can come along as possible and even though the football season has ended it is a really great day out. I’ll be there. It’s always a fantastic event and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of old friends and Palace fans from over the years."

To grab your discounted ticket for this year's event, simply click here now. By buying your ticket online, you'll save £8 and receive your commemorative pint glass on the door.

Don't miss out, buy here now!


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