I have just got back from the Isle of Wight and this year’s Isle of Wight music festival where a fun time was had by all. There was one thing there which really got my goat. The Beer. Now I’m sure that the powers that be have done a lot of market research and deduced the average age of the festival ticket holders and what they are likely to drink etc. etc. But we’re not all 19 year olds with no taste so why oh why do the main bars only give the options of lager and cider? And when I say cider I mean Strongbow, a drink which is so ubiquitous at IoW that it even has a stage named after it!

Looking around the site I saw that there was a huge range of people, from the group of teenages on their first festival, to the family of mum, dad and 2.4 children to the group of ageing hippies who haven’t realised that the summer of love has been and gone. Even the demographicsof these say that some of these people want some ale of some kind, or at least a different cider, one which preferably doesn’t corrode the back of your throat, infact I’m getting acid reflux just thinking about it. Now I’m sure defenders of IoW will say “what are you talking about? there is a tent over there with real ale on”. Yeah, one tent, about 15 minutes walk from the front of the main stage, with one local ale (Island Brewery’s Yachtsman’s, which was rather nice) and one foreign beer (Lindeman’s Kriek, a bit sweet but nice and very popular). The popularity of the Kreik really said it all, in the end they had to stop serving it by about 9 p.m. every evening so that they could ration it for the next day!

So if we want the beer from this tent we have to miss all the good music on the main stage, do we? Well that’s great.

The Isle of Wight isn’t the only festival like this. Secret Garden Party do the same thing, one tent in the arse end of nowhere which has a couple of local beers and all the main bars near the music give you the choice of Kopparberg or San Miguel. Ditto Reading.

Some festivals are catching on Latitude a few years ago already had at least one ale on at every bar, but they made the same mistake as IoW and didn’t order enough. Glastonbury, on the other hand has got it bang on. Real ale at all the bars, even though it’s just one choice, even at the main bar’s near all the good music. As well as that there are several over bars which are more like small beer festivals in their own right and on top of that there is the institution of the cider bus and the brothers bar which is arguably where the cider revolution of the recent years took place.

Why can Glastonbury get it so right and yet the others get it so wrong? I know the first thing that anyone will say is that its all to  do with sponsorship and I realise that but I’m paying nearly £200 a ticket and I can’t even get the drink I want? And on top of all the money they make out of me for the privilege of not having a decent drink is the fact that they make even more money out of the drinks company sponsorship deals.

I realise that people put on festivals to make money. It’s a business after all, but at some point (a point somewhere around overpriced sponsorship deals for bars) it starts to lose the fun and become just a bit tedious. Glastonbury itself has often been accused of selling out and corporate brandings taking over but it is still far and away the best of them all. Why can’t the others learn from them?