AROUND 3,000 thirsty punters charged their glasses at the Southampton Beer Festival last weekend.

Compared to the recently revived version at Winchester Guildhall, which takes place in March, this is a now a traditional event.

Held for the 16th time at Southampton Guildhall, around 15,000 pints were quaffed over the course of five sessions.

No fewer than 96 beers were on offer from 43 different breweries, including 18 based in Hampshire.

Those in the Winchester district included Botley, Bowman, Flowerpots, Itchen Valley, Triple FFF and Upham.

There was also a range of ciders, perries and foreign bottled beers for those who wanted something different.

Taking place over the Diamond Jubilee weekend, the South Hants branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) was also celebrating its own diamond landmark.

The festival was the 60th organised by the group since its first one back in 1975, held at Millbrook in Southampton.

The event at Southampton Guildhall also featured live music and, for those lucky enough to be asked, a special tasting of south eastern strong bitters. It was a blind taste session, and Hopback Summer Lightning and Fuller’s ESB went down particularly well.

Back in the main hall, there was an entire row of Hampshire beer barrels to sample. Trying them all would have been insane and necessitated medical attention, but those we tried were excellent.

They included Golden Jet, a new bitter brewed by the Fulflood Arms pub in Winchester. Other newcomers included Pilgrim Pale Ale from the Dancing Man brewery, based at the Platform Tavern pub in Southampton.

Without doubt, South Hants Camra’s “diamond jubilee” festival was an occasion worth celebrating, and the event at Southampton Guildhall goes from strength to strength.