Nestled in the mid-Devon countryside is the picturesque village of Yeoford. A short train ride from Exeter, Yeoford is a little slice of Devon heaven and also home to Yeofest.
Yeofest and Yeo!Cider festivals
The village may look quiet and unassuming, but twice a year Yeoford draws in the crowds for its beer and cider festivals. This year’s beer festival (Yeofest) coincided nicely with St Patrick’s Day. In the autumn the sister festival Yeo!Cider serves up ciders and perries.
It was our third visit to Yeofest, having indulged in both the beer and cider festival the year before. But with the Beast from The East making a return visit we were a little worried that snow may deter some of the punters. But snow is little match for a Devonian in need of a beer and Yeofest was already in full flow by the time we arrived.
You get your first taste of the sense of fun of Yeofest when you get your entry glass and first set of tokens. For this year’s Yeofest pint glass, a pair of flag wielding rabbits face off in front of a rugby post. It’s now been added to the Westcountry Weekender festival cupboard, sitting aside last year’s Yeo!Cider glass which is definitely our favourite so far. The 2017 cider classic features an owl with a familiar sweep of hair asking for a pint of covfefe.
Yeofest at the Yeoford village hall
Once inside Yeofest, you’re greeted by a long wall of beer barrels, with a couple of boxed ciders thrown in for good measure (at Yeo!Cider in the autumn the balance is reversed). This year there were 20 different beers to sample, with the option of halves or pints.
We made the decision to ease our way in gently with a Somerset rhubarb cider; followed closely after by its more conventional apple-based cousin from Wales.
After that, it was time to hit the ale and in full knowledge that we weren’t each going to get through 20 beers we adopted a divide and conquer approach. Liam took on the darker stouts, bitters and porters whilst I opted for the lighter pale and amber ales.
We made a beeline for the local beers, starting with the Powderkeg Speak Easy from Woodbury Salterton and Exeter Brewery’s Darkness, before taking a meandering route through the West Country in beer form. There was a fine showing from Cornwall in the form of Skinner’s Splendid Tackle and Devon in the shape of Salcombe’s Lifesaver. Somerset got in on the action with Funky Monkey and Wiltshire with Citra.
As the day went on our beery wanderings extended to Wales, Derbyshire, Essex and York. Thankfully there was plenty of food on hand to soak it all up, with the village hall kitchen serving up a good supply of munchies throughout.
A festival atmosphere
What really makes Yeofest such a great event is the atmosphere. It’s a very traditional, non-commercial feeling festival – with live country and folk music (banjos aplenty) and traditional pub games. The latter is supplemented by games of cards, dominoes and other activities going on at tables around the hall, where people have brought their own entertainment along.
Throughout, the festival programme is a great guide to the many beers on offer and a useful drinking roadmap for the day.
Whilst we didn’t quite manage to stay to the end (or sample every beer on offer) we hear the festival kept going well into the night and with trains back to Exeter as late as 11 pm it was no surprise that the festival was so packed.
Find out more about Yeofest…
Yeo!Cider returns to the village on October 2018 and Yeofest will return in 2019.
You can find out more about Yeofest on Facebook.