A hugely popular beer festival has been called off - for the first time in the event's history.

West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says it is with 'great sadness' it's cancelled this year’s Octoberfest at Weymouth Pavilion due to coronavirus.

West Dorset CAMRA chairman, Dave Harris, and Rich Gabe took the decision after discussing the possibility of running a festival with social distancing measures in place in light of the July 4 pub re-opening date.

Mr Gabe said: "Weymouth Octoberfest is one of two large beer festivals that we run and look forward to; however it seems irresponsible to put our volunteer staff and loyal customer base in a potentially dangerous position. Part of running a festival is staff's close interaction with customers talking and advising on beer preferences alongside banter, fun and education while serving at the bar or going from table to table.

“After last year’s Saturday evening sell-out, the popularity of real ale in Dorset is plain to see and we were hoping to present an 'All things Dorset' event showcasing Dorset brewers and cider makers - we hope to do this in 2021.”

Mr Harris added: "It is a shame we have had to cancel but I’m sure our customers will understand and I look forward to returning to Weymouth Pavilion next year - it fits all our needs to run the festival. This is around the time of year, as a local branch of CAMRA, that we start to plan and publicise the event, so to avoid a sudden short-notice cancellation in the event of a second spike of Covid-19 we have taken this sad decision.”

The branch has also taken the decision to not run any social activities, be they minibus outings, train trips or monthly branch meetings for the foreseeable future until government social distancing measures are relaxed.

This will be the first time in 21years that a packed coach is not visiting Newton Abbot’s Tuckers Maltings festival and West Dorset CAMRA has never had to cancel a festival.

A decision will be made later in the year regarding next year’s Dorchester Beerex.