HUNDREDS of beer lovers have spent several days enjoying some of the best ales in the country at the Steam Museum.

The Swindon Beer Festival was held at the museum from Thursday to Saturday.

Each session offered more than 130 ales, ciders and perries and more than 2,000 people who attended.

Visitors even came from Bristol, Reading and Bath to make the 27th annual festival the biggest so far.

Hans Hoffbauer, the chairman of the Swindon branch of the Campaign for Real Ale said he was delighted with the response of those who he had spoken to about the festival.

He said: “All the feedback we have had so far has been very positive. “I think everyone has enjoyed themselves and there has been nothing but smiling faces.

“Every session has been very busy and attendance is up slightly on last year, which is very pleasing as it shows the people of Swindon understand what we are trying to do.

“There has been a fantastic selection of beers which you would not find in a pub, even during the final day when a few of the beers we are selling had run out.

“Not only has it been successful in terms of the reaction from people but also as a fundraising event for CAMRA.”

One wall of the Great Western Hall was stacked with barrels of ales from all over the country for people to try. While many were from local breweries, some had travelled as far as the Orkneys – 674 miles away.

As well as numerous tipples, there was the chance to purchase souvenirs and food.

And, during the Thursday and Saturday sessions, there was also live music.

Although the final glass had barely been cleared away thoughts were already turning to next year’s festival, which is hoped will be even bigger.

“A lot of preparation has gone in to make this happen and at the next meeting we will sit down and think about the next festival,” said Hans.

“There have been a number of suggestions from people, such as maybe having more music. “We will take these ideas and see what we can do.”

The festival received a resoundingly positive response from everyone in attendance, who all agreed the event was a great way to promote real ales.

Mike Goff, 28, of Stratton, said: “I think it’s really good and a good chance to try something you wouldn’t normally get the chance to try.

“It’s quite busy and everyone seems to be having a good time.”

Daniel Vizor, 24, who was drinking the Pride Of Oxford, said: “It’s not what I was expecting and there is a really relaxed atmosphere.

“Whenever I go to the pub I normally just have standard lager so it’s goodto try something different.”