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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Raising a glass to absent friends

A REAL ale was brought down from the Orkney Islands to help beer festival organisers to toast a friend.

The annual Carlisle Beer Festival, organised by the Solway branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), started yesterday at the Hallmark Hotel.

The three-day event was scheduled to have 50 real ales from across the country, but Philip Tuer, media and pub liaison officer for the group, said there was a last minute addition.

“I got an email late on Wednesday from Geltsdale Brewery, asking when they could deliver another beer, as it should just be ready in time,” Mr Tuer said.

“We are probably the first people to have it on, as it is a new beer.”

The tipples have been brought in from all over the UK, but Mr Tuer said it is the sole cask of Red MacGregor, brought down from the Orkney Isles, that is particularly special.

He said: “We specifically chose that ale because it was a favourite beer of Paul Hepper, former branch treasurer, who passed away earlier this year.”

Mr Tuer said as there was only one cask – and an expected rush from organisers to raise a glass to Paul – the Red MacGregor is not expected to have lasted much beyond the first day.

Mr Hepper, 45, died in February at the home in Howe Street, off London Road, Carlisle, that he shared with his partner Matthew Murphy, who he planned to wed.

He was manager of Pizza Express and also a former boss of The Griffin pub in Court Square, Carlisle.

An inquest in August ruled he had died of a massive heart attack.

The beer festival runs in the hotel from midday to 11pm today and tomorrow.

More than 700 people are expected to visit and sample the beer throughout the three days.

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