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.
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 1st September, 6pm - midnight.
Saturday 02 September, noon - midnight.
Just £5 gets your entry, festival glass, programme, and first half pint. And if you come along on Friday evening and want to return on Saturday, just bring your glass and programme ‐ no double fees! For anyone not drinking beers or ciders, entry to The Finstock Ale is free.
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!
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.
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.
You can find a list of our current sponsors in the Festival programme, but we must make mention here of the following:
Howse & O'Reilly, the electrical contractors, have been the Overall Event Sponsor throughout our history.
Sonnox Ltd., who design plug-ins for audio applications, have sponsored our Music Stage, enabling us to bring you a wide range of entertainment over the years, including stand-up comedy, race night and a vast array of music.
Print Ready sponsor our programme. Located on the Windrush Industrial Estate, they offer a wide range of services – design, print, sign & display, mailing and apparel. They print all of our banners, flyers, posters and other festival materials.
If you would like to help us at future festivals by sponsoring a cask of beer, box of cider, or any other aspect of the event, please talk to one of our staff, who will be happy to answer your questions.