Attendance at this year's Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) was down 10% on 2007, reflecting the overall downturn in pub visits.
Figures from GBBF organisers the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) show that 59,000 visited the five-day festival at Earls Court from 5-9 August.
"This is about 10% down on last year and reflects the 10% decrease in pub-going, which industry figures have been talking about, due to the credit crunch," said a Camra spokesman.
"However, Friday night figures were similar to 2007, which suggests consumers are saving up for Friday night. The figures also suggest, in general, that visitors stayed longer at the festival and bars were not as difficult to access as in previous years. This meant you got served quicker and probably had a better experience.
"Beer sales across the bars were pretty good and the new layout seemed to please most of the bars."
Charlie Holland, brand manager at Shepherd Neame, said GBBF "was a huge success for us", adding, "we saw a broad attendance from all age groups; it appeared, from attendees, that ale is winning over new drinkers.
"Our bar did well over both the trade and public days. I believe we sold around 3,500 pints of our new ale Canterbury Jack alone."
A spokeswoman for Wells & Young's said that 6,000 pints were sold at its bar. "The GBBF was, as always, a great showcase for breweries and their beers, and epitomises people's passion for top-quality cask ale."
Greene King brewing and distribution director Steve Magnall said: "It was fantastic to be part of this wonderful event once again and great to see so many first-time festival-goers alongside seasoned GBBF supporters - all sharing their love of quality cask ale."