As the festive season gets underway, you may want to join in one of the biggest parties of the season ‐ the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival. This huge event draws ale lovers and beer drinkers from all over the country for the event which takes place on the fourth Saturday in November.

St Austell Brewery is one of the oldest and longest surviving breweries still in operation in Cornwall. The Celtic Beer Festival takes place in the brewery's ancient vaults and cellars, lending a certain authenticity and uniqueness to the whole event. The event is only open to over 18s and it runs from 11am to 11pm.

130+ Ales on offer at the St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival

On offer there are over 130 different ales, stouts and lagers. Of course the four bars in the St Austell Brewery itself will also be pulling pints of their award-winning beers. Traditional Cornish names such as Tribute, Proper Job and Korev decorate the tap handles alongside new and limited edition beers that the brewery produces specially for the beer festival.

You will no doubt be familiar with many names as they are on sale across Cornwall, the Westcountry and the UK in pubs, bars and supermarkets. In fact Tribute is a local top seller and one of the fastest growing premium cask ale brands in the UK.

Awards for St Austell Brewery pubs and ales

Many of the St Austell Brewery ales have won prestigious awards. Most recently they have received Britain's best Regional Brewer Publican's Choice Award 2013 and Southwest's Favourite Regional Cask Ale.

The Brewery Visitor Centre has just received the 2013/14 Bronze Award from the Cornwall Tourism Board. Also, five of its pubs are shortlisted for national pub award honours including the Rashleigh Arms at Charlestown, the Ship on Plymouth Barbican, the Pandora Inn near Mylor, the Cromwell Arms in Bovey Tracey and the Central in Newquay.

To compare St Austell ales with other well-known beers and ales there will be a good selection of over 100 guest ales from all the members of the Cornwall Brewers Alliance. You can see why Cornwall is known as the best beer-producing county in the UK!

Along with a huge array of liquid refreshments, the Celtic Beer Festival at St Austell Brewery will also offer a good range of Cornish pub food and some live musical entertainment, ensuring a great sociable experience.

There is an entrance fee to the Celtic Brewery Festival but this includes a commemorative pint glass, a festival programme and a handful of beer tickets.

The History of the St Austell Brewery

St Austell Brewery is a local landmark and it is now situated right in the town centre although when it was founded, the brewery and its stables of heavy horses would have been on the outskirts.

The brewery was founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks and it still remains family owned and totally independent. The current Managing Director is James Staughton who is the founder's great-great-grandson.

During your visit to the St Austell Brewery, take a wander through the fascinating brewery museum. These Victorian buildings now house 21st century brewing equipment. The Hicks Bar is one of my favourite places to enjoy lunch when visiting the town and here's another useful tip: the St Austell Brewery Museum Shop has some great souvenirs, gift packs, branded clothing, books and novelties that make perfect gifts for any beer drinker!

To date the brewery has produced over 435 million pints, and this figure is likely to significantly increase after this year's St Austell Brewery Celtic Beer Festival! Why not pop down and join in this fun festival which is promoted as “the biggest party of the year for ale lovers”.

What's your opinion of St Austell Ales? Have you got a favourite ‐ either for flavour or for its novelty name? Let's hear it!