Friday 06
Saturday 07
September, 2024
The best beers, at the best price around

Why we are different

The Finstock Ale, first held in 2013 to raise funds for a new village hall, is now an annual festival held to raise funds for our registered charity (279171) and its many good causes (including a Christmas lunch for the pensioners of the village and subsidies for village clubs, societies and children’s groups). However, our model is a little different from most of the local beer festivals. Rather than squeeze as much money as we can for our charity, we try to balance our fundraising with the creation of an enjoyable and affordable event for all, where the beers and ciders are hand-picked by our team, and for the most part are definitely not the standard fare to be found in local pubs. Our aim is to share with you some of the remarkable beers we have discovered, across a wide variety of styles, so that in addition to offering some familiar favourites, we can challenge you with something new from the leading edge of British breweries.

Why the "Ale"?

We chose to call our event “The Finstock Ale” rather than “Beer Festival” for historical reasons. The Parish ale or church ale was a party or festivity in an English parish at which ale was the chief drink. It was typically a fundraising occasion for the parish that might include music and dancing. Very common in the later Middle Ages, parish ales encountered some opposition after the English Reformation, though a few have survived until modern times. The word "ale", in the sense of an ale-drinking party, was part of many compound terms for types of party or festivity based on the consumption of ale or beer. Thus there was the leet-ale (held on "leet", the manorial court day); the lamb-ale (held at lamb-shearing); the Whitsun-ale (held at Whitsun), the clerk-ale, the church-ale etc. The word "bridal" originally derives from bride-ale, the wedding feast organised to raise money for the couple. The bid-ale, once very common throughout England, was a benefit feast to which a general invitation was given, and all those attending were expected to make some contribution to help the object of the benefit, usually a poor person or family or some other charitable cause.


Friday 06 September, 6pm - midnight.
Saturday 07 September, noon - midnight.

Where to find us

Finsock Ale takes place at Finstock Village Hall, OX7 3BU. See this map.

Beer & ciders

A complete list of the beers and ciders at the festival will appear closer to the date. But what should you expect? This year, we’ll have at least a dozen cask ales. These will include some great examples of traditional styles, but not beers you’ll find in pubs around Oxfordshire. For example, last year we offered Bob’s Best, a gorgeous copper-coloured bitter from Good Chemistry in Bristol. It had sold out by the end of Saturday afternoon! There will be bitters, pale ales, a mild or maybe two, and certainly a couple of IPAs. Most of our champion beer winners over the years have been from this style, although 2022 was an exception when Foresters Black, a smoky stout from Dawkins Brewery took the top prize.

We’ll also have a wide choice of keg beers. At the Finstock Ale, we’ve not been afraid to push the boundaries in search of outstanding craft beers, and last year the ten we had all sold out (whereas we ended up pouring away some unsold cask ale – no one likes doing that; it’s like drowning kittens). So you can expect 15-18 kegs, to include some extreme IPAs, maybe a sour, an intense coffee/chocolate stout, an outstanding lager, and other winners we’ve found on our research travels. Brewers will include names like Pollys, Verdant and Vocation, but also some you’re less likely to be familiar with: Atom, Overtone or Vibrant Forest perhaps. And for the first time we want to try offering one or two alcohol free beers, so those driving can enjoy drinking with their friends.

Last year we offered six real ciders. There’s always a headbanger (in 2023 it was Sandford’s The General). There’ll be a fruit cider at the other end of the alcohol scale, and four more chosen by our cider expert to ensure there’s a range of styles.

We believe the beers we offer make us different from a lot of other festivals. Our commitment to offering exciting beers (and ciders) at affordable prices makes us one of the key dates in beer drinkers’ diaries. If you’ve not visited us before, come and find out why so many folk come back year after year.

Full bar

If beer or cider is not for you, or one of your party, fear not. A full bar is available at the Ale, serving wines, spirits, soft drinks, snacks, and our own wonderful Gin Palace, with fourteen specially selected craft gins, served with Fevertree tonic and accompaniments, all at prices lower than you'll find in your pub!


Hungry tums need to be fed, and last year the food was so good, we decided to ask the providers to come back again! So on Friday evening, Nuak Thai!, our resident Thai fusion food experts will be cooking up their delicious recipes to tempt you. And on Saturday, Sartorellis pizza oven will be right outside. This is the genuine article, as different from a supermarket pizza as it’s possible to get. We also hope to have a runner service from the kitchens of The Plough Inn, so you can order everything from fish’n’chips to tacos or burgers, and have them delivered to your seat!


Parking is limited, so please use public transport where possible. If you are coming by car, please do not park on the private road outside the Village Hall. There is no car park, but street parking is possible in the village where it is legal and safe to do so.


If you want come by train there's a convenient, well‐trodden route from the nearest well-serviced station at Charlbury to Finstock, see here.


If you want to get the bus, the S3 from Gloucester Green in Oxford (towards Chipping Norton) takes about 52 minutes to get to the "Fawler Manor" stop, and from there it's a short walk up Dark Lane to Finstock. Alternatively, the X9 bus runs from Witney or Chipping Norton ‐ get off at the "Finstock Village Stores" stop and walk along school road to the Village Hall.


Many taxi services are available from Witney.


Finstock Village Hall is fully accessible to wheelchair users.


Well-behaved dogs kept on a lead are welcome at the Finstock Ale.


The Finstock Ale raises money every year for our Village Hall charity (reg. 279171) so that year round we can support local causes ‐ the pensioners' Christmas lunch, children's and toddler groups, community clubs and societies. We simply could not operate our affordable model without the generosity of all our sponsors, both individuals and companies.