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Save £1 at The Medway Beer Festival which runs at Chatham's Stanley Ballroom next week

The Chancellor’s decision to freeze the duty on real ale - which means a saving of two pence on a pint - is welcome news for drinkers attending the Medway Beer Festival which opens in Chatham on Thursday.

The chair of the British Beer and Pub Association claims the move has safeguarded 3,000 jobs in the UK industry and saved brewers, pubs and pub-goers £110 million.

Bridget Simmonds said the Chancellor had given everyone an early Christmas present.

John Brice with Reg Rodbard (former Lance Corpral in the RE) at last year's event
John Brice with Reg Rodbard (former Lance Corpral in the RE) at last year's event

The duty on cider was also frozen – saving one penny on a pint - but he announced that cider more than 7% ABV would have a higher tax bracket from next year.

Philip Hammond said duty would be kept at its current rate ‘for the patrons of the great British pub’.

The Medway Beer Festival which opens at the Stanley Ballroom in Gundulph Road, Chatham, is a celebration of all that is good about the UK pub industry.

This is the 17th anniversary of the festival and for the first time it will have an exhibition featuring former Medway breweries and pubs.

Local historian David Burton will have a collection of old photographs and memorabilia including bottles, signs and pub games.

A moving picture show of pubs and breweries which have now closed will be non-stop, and the centre-piece will be a large model of the former Globe and Laurel pub in Gillingham.

From left: John and Diane Brice with Steve Brisley at last year's festival
From left: John and Diane Brice with Steve Brisley at last year's festival

David will be at the festival at various times to answer local history questions and he has a quiz which real ale enthusiasts might like to test their knowledge.

Also for the first time there will be a rum bar. It will be stocked with rums from around the world including various styles, colours and strengths.

But the main purpose of the three-day event is the 50 cask conditioned ales from around the UK which will take-up two sides of the Stanley Ballroom and dominate the view.

There are some old favourites, but the majority will be new to Medway drinkers.

The whole range of output from the Canterbury-based Kent Cider Company will also be on tap.

There is plenty of seating so that during each day, drinkers can relax in a quiet atmosphere. Then in the evenings there is live music provided by local musicians.

Hot food is available most of the opening hours and the chefs at the St George Hotel have created a menu featuring three real ales.

More than £3,600 has been raised for charity at the festival over the years and this time proceeds will go to the Royal British Legion. Poppies will also be on sale.

The doors open for the first time at 4pm on Thursday and at 11am on the following two days. Last orders are at 11pm on all three nights.

Medway Messenger readers can save £1 off the entry fee by using the voucher in the paper out now and in Monday's edition.

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