BEER fans should 'hop' to it if they want to attend Dorchester's highlight real ale festival.

The Dorchester Beerex event returns next month and promises one of the best beer selections yet. It takes place in the Corn Exchange on Friday February 7 and Saturday February 8, split between lunchtime and evening sessions.

The festival is organised by West Dorset Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and Casterbridge Rotary, sponsored by Palmers brewery of Bridport.

Organisers say this year will see a slightly different approach to the evening sessions. On Friday evening light acoustic music will be the perfect backdrop for conversation. Then on Saturday a band will play, to get the party into full swing.

This year’s principle good cause will be mental health charity Dorset Mind.

A raffle will also raise funds for the Dorchester Youth & Community Centre on Fordington Cross.

This year will see around 50 per cent of the beer supplied by breweries that have never exhibited at the festival before.

Local brewers will be represented including the full Palmers range; Copper St brewery of Dorchester and Small Paul’s from Gillingham.

On the lower ABV side of the spectrum will be Big Smoke brewery from South London, Jolly Sailor from north Yorkshire and Manchester’s Black Jack brewery.

Rich Gabe, who sources the beer on behalf of CAMRA, said: "Every year I like to give customers new breweries and flavour combinations they may never have tried or seen before, and this year there are a lot of breweries here for the first time. "Customers can expect a variety of styles, from session pale ales and bitters to heavily hopped IPAs, then on the dark side, milds, porters and stouts.”

A varied cider and perry selection is supplied by Twisted at Longburton, Joe of Purbeck, and Honey’s ginger from Somerset, plus many more.

If fruit cider isn’t your choice, at least half the bar will have a choice of local and regional dry, medium and sweet ciders.

To sponsor a barrel contact Dave Harris on 07977918130.

Entry costs £10 and includes a commemorative glass; programme with full beer listing notes and two half pints of beer.

CAMRA members receive an extra two halves.

Tickets will be on sale at:

Dorchester:The Convivial Rabbit, The Bakers Arms and the Brace of Butchers; Poundbury.

Weymouth: The Dog House micro pub (Great George St)

Online at