SINCE small beginnings in 2002 Alton’s annual beer festivals have now raised the extraordinary sum of £200,000 for charity.

And on Saturday volunteers and supporters of the biannual ale festival met in the Wessex Arts Centre at Alton College to present donations to those benefiting from February’s Winter Beer Festival.

The 28th festival, the February event attracted more than 1,300 punters who drank more than 4,000 pints, enabling the organisers to hand out donations totalling £13,002 to deserving causes.

There were 19 beneficiaries who included 8th Alton Scouts, Alton Buckle Children’s Partnership, Alton Community Association, Alton and District Swimming Club, Alton Men’s Shed, Alton Trampoline Club, Broadlands Riding for the Disabled, Cardiac Rehab, Challengers, Eggar’s School, Four Marks & Medstead Rotary Club, Four Marks and Ropley Scouts, Gilbert White’s House Museum, Holybourne Preschool, Home-Start WeyWater, Limes Day Care Centre, Orchard House Residents’ Association, and Putting Pen to Paper, as well as one individual.

The organisers of the Alton Beer Festival have expressed a “huge thank you” to sponsors Triple fff Brewery from Four Marks, and Bourne Estate Agents, as well as the other participating breweries, “whose continued generosity helps the team to raise money for a diverse range of charities”.

As well as the charities receiving their donations, Saturday’s event saw acknowledgement of the awards for the winter festival champion beers, as voted for by festival attendees.

Speaking on behalf of the festival trustees, Louise Parker said: “Seventy-four out of the 76 beers received a vote, evidencing the outstanding quality on offer.”

There was a tie for champion beer this winter, with Dancing Man’s Haunted by New Zealand and Wild Weather’s Curse of Threepwood sharing the title.

Second place was awarded to Red Cat’s Seven, and Red Cat also picked up third place for its smoked beer, Smoggy.

Third place was a three-way tie, with Red Cat sharing the award with Ashover Brewery’s Milk Stout and Chiltern Brewery’s Earl Grey.

The date for this year’s Summer Beer Festival is June 2-3, and tickets are already available online and from town-area pubs.