Weymouth's Octoberfest real ale festival to attract thousands

Dorset Echo: MAKE MINE A HALF: Chairman Dave Harris, centre, with cider rep Alex Bardswell, left and Rich Gabe MAKE MINE A HALF: Chairman Dave Harris, centre, with cider rep Alex Bardswell, left and Rich Gabe

SOMETHING special is brewing in Weymouth.

Glasses are being raised for the Campaign for Real Ale’s Weymouth Octoberfest Beer Festival which continues at the Pavilion Ocean Room today.

The popular autumn drinkathon, which started yesterday, is being held at the venue for a second year and all the signs are pointing to it being the most successful yet.

The two-day evemt used to be held at Brewers Quay but was switched to the Pavilion when the building closed for redevelopment.

Organisers this year have arranged seating so drinkers can enjoy views of the coast while they sup brews.

Thousands more tickets have also been made available this year.

Seventy eight different casks of real ale – 10 more than last year – as well as ciders and perrys – have been brought in, with the emphasis on beers from the south and south east. Dorset breweries are also represented.

Flavoursome beers to suit all palates are on offer including milds, porters, stouts, barley wines, and reliable session ales.

Bar manager Rich Gabe said: “We hope it will be the best festival yet, celebrating locally-brewed ales as well as beers sourced from the south east to reflect the traditional hop harvest at this time of year.”

Delicious cakes, pastries and cider breads are being sold by Belle’s Cream Cakes of Weymouth and organisers from the West Dorset branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are using the event to try and recruit people to the organisation which supports real ale, pubs and drinker’s rights.

According to CAMRA, there are now more than 1,000 breweries operational across the UK, the highest number for decades. The cider and perry industry is also growing in line with the real ale boom.

“Real ale is on the up, more of it is being consumed as it becomes the drink of choice for so many people,” said West Dorset CAMRA spokesman Michel Hooper-Immins.

Trevor Pearsall, 73, from Devon, enjoyed a drink at yesterday’s session while his wife went shopping.

He said: “My dad used to leave a bit of beer in his glass for me when I was a child. I once lived near the home of beer in Burton-on-Trent and my wife used to work at a brewery so I’m steeped in beer, so to speak.”

Buy tickets priced £3 for today’s lunchtime session (11am-3pm) or evening (6pm-11pm) from The Boot or The Globe pubs in Weymouth, the Royal Portland Arms and George Inn on Portland and Blue Raddle in Dorchester. Or call the Pavilion box office on 01305 783225 or visit camrawdorset.org.uk/Octoberfest

IT’S A JOB I COULD GET USED TO

BEING a newspaper reporter can be a difficult job sometimes, especially when you’re ordered to a beer festival to taste the brews.

Despite my love of traditional pubs, I’m ashamed to say that I prefer apples over hops.

Making my way to the cider and perry table run by Alex Bardswell, I note there’s 13 of them on offer.

I try the medium sweet Blakeney Red Perry, which is as smooth as silk. Bar manager Rich Gabe is looking disappointed at my decision to try a cider first and thrusts a glass of Small Paul’s Rich’s X75 in my hand, a pale amber barley wine which comes in at a stonking 7.5 per cent. It’s brewed specially for the festival by Dorset’s Paul Smith who has a micro-brewery in his garage. I finish with a Blonde from Hastings Brewery which is sweet and lovely.

I’m thinking I could get used to this...

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