This year’s The Light, The Dark, and The Saison beer festival at Cornwall’s Driftwood Spars Hotel will be tinged with sadness as it celebrates the life of head brewer Pete Martin.

Pete died a couple of months back and is fondly remembered as bringing the Driftwood Spars Brewery to national attention. In 2012 he saw Alfie’s Revenge, a 6.5% ABV strong bitter, named Champion Winter Beer of Britain by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Pete’s 57th birthday would have been on March 15 — the final day of the festival.

In an article in Cornwall Today this month, I wrote that Pete was never one to rest on his laurels and was always looking at the next project.

“He was a pioneer of gluten-free beer in Cornwall, and a standard bearer for the school of thought that beer was every bit as good — if not better — than wine as a food accompaniment on the most sophisticated table.

“As well as constantly learning new skills and mastering new recipes, he was generous in sharing his knowledge. Guests and home brewers were invited to join him in the brewhouse, and he got as much pleasure from teaching brewing as learning from other brewers.

“This is one of the reasons he was selected to join the South West board of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). Fellow board member, Guy Sheppard, of Exe Valley Brewery, described Pete as ‘a good man, good brewer, and friend to all.”

Driftwood Spars landlady, Louise Treseder, said: “Although we are still struggling to come to terms with his loss, the best tribute we can imagine is to get together and celebrate his amazing achievements, whilst enjoying his favourite brews; it’s what Pete would’ve wanted!

“We expect glasses to be raised to the man himself until the wee small hours, and all the best ‘Fluffy Pete’ anecdotes to re-emerge around the tables and bars of The Driftwood Spars.”

Louise has chosen beers from microbreweries all over the UK. Each beer will represent an achievement or an element of Pete’s life and career.

She said: “There are many beers which we know were amongst Pete’s favourites from brewers and breweries he came to know personally over the years. Pete was really passionate and enthusiastic about the future for British microbreweries, and I think the variety and quality of the selection we’ll have would have made him very happy indeed.”

The festival takes place from March 13 to 15 and will feature beer, beer-inspired food, live music, and rugby on the big screen. There are more details on the event Facebook page.

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