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Over a thousand advance tickets have already been sold for the Campaign for Real Ale's Weymouth Octoberfest Beer Festival, taking place next Friday and Saturday [12/13 October] at the Ocean Room.
West Dorset CAMRA have ordered 78 different casks of real ale- ten more than last year- for the popular autumn festival, being held at Weymouth Pavilion for the second year running.
The 78 real ales on tap include 19 from Dorset, spanning most of the brewhouses in the county- including Dorset Cross and Hop Dog from the new Sunny Republic brewery at Winterborne Kingston, near Bere Regis. Other Dorset real ales hail from Blandford St. Mary, Lyme Regis, Bridport, Sixpenny Handley, North Chideock, Crossways, Gillingham, Piddlehinton and Studland.
The Small Paul microbrewery in Gillingham is producing Rich's X75 barley wine, strong at around 7.5% ABV, specially for the festival and named after CAMRA Bar Manager Rich Gabe. Brewer Paul Smith hopes to win the Beer of the Festival award again.
However, the emphasis this year is on beers from the South and South East- 21 from Sussex, 12 from Hampshire, 11 from Kent, six from Surrey and three from the Isle of Wight. From Harveys at Lewes comes the renowned Sussex Mild, Legless Rambler travels from Beachy Head brewery and Gadds Dogbolter has one of the longest journeys- from Ramsgate in Kent. The strongest beer at the festival should be A over T, brewed by Hogs Back at Tongham in Surrey, coming in at 9% ABV, almost three times stronger than the average bitter. St. Austell bring six of their Cornish real ales.
Many different styles of real ale will be on tap- including Anastasia's Exile Stout from Ascot, Franklins Pudding Stout from Bexhill-on-Sea, Brighton Best, Mary's Ruby Mild from Sussex and Enigma Black IPA from Kent. Pig's Ear travels from the Gribble brewpub at Oving in West Sussex. Although all these beers have been ordered, it is possible a few may be substituted before delivery. In addition, there will be cider and perry available.
"We have sold 1,050 advance tickets so far and many more will be sold this week," reports West Dorset CAMRA spokesman Michel Hooper-Immins, "the signs are that Friday evening will be sold out before long. Our decision to run the popular autumn beer festival at Weymouth Pavilion for a second year has been well supported and we anticipate yet another successful event in Weymouth."
Last October's beer festival at the Ocean Room was such a runaway success that local CAMRA members had no hesitation in booking the bayside venue again. For eight years, this highly successful event had been held at Brewer's Quay, but closure of the Hope Square attraction in early 2011 forced a move.
Real ale lovers from all over the country will converge on Weymouth, as well as CAMRA members from many areas of Dorset.
The Ocean Room layout has been reorganised to put more chairs and tables alongside the picture windows overlooking the bay, while the bar has been turned 90 degrees to face the stage. Again in response to last year's feedback, live music will be restricted to Saturday evening, so the three other sessions will be quiet and music-free!
At every session, the Pavilion staff will be selling a full range of snacks. Belle's Cream Cakes, based in Westham Road, will have a stall at the festival selling beer and cider breads, as well as other goodies.
Divided into two sessions on both Friday and Saturday 12 and 13 October, from 11am to 3pm and from 6pm to 11pm, tickets are only £3 for a lunchtime session and £4 in the evening, both including a free festival glass to take home. There is no price increase on last year. In the past three years, three of the four sessions have been sold out, so it is essential to buy tickets in advance- from West Dorset CAMRA online at www.camrawdorset.org.uk/Octoberfest.htm or from The Boot & The Globe pubs in Weymouth, the Royal Portland Arms & The George Inn on Portland and the Blue Raddle at Dorchester. Additionally, tickets are available from Weymouth Pavilion box office at 01305 783225 or by telephoning Dave Harris at 01305 772286.
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Campaign for Real Ale,
West Dorset Branch