A FORTY-YEAR staple on the real ale calendar is the latest event to fall foul of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Durham branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has confirmed the city’s annual beer festival will not take place this year.

A decision was delayed as the 40th festival, at Durham City Rugby Club’s Hollow Drift clubhouse, was not due to take place until early September.

Branch chairman Paul Dobson said: “We held back as long as we thought reasonable, to give the event a chance of taking place, but have decided that, even in the event of restrictions being lifted, it wouldn't be right and proper to hold it.”

A statement issued by the branch last night outlined the reasons for the cancellation.

“It is with a sense of both disappointment and inevitability that Durham CAMRA announce that there will be no CAMRA Durham Beer Festival this year.

“This would have been our 40th, so while there will be no CAMRA Durham Beer Festival in 2020, the 40th CAMRA Durham Beer Festival has merely been postponed, and will happen when it is both safe and appropriate.

“Even if restrictions are lifted before the end of August, when the festival would have started, CAMRA Durham feel that our efforts and energies as a campaigning organisation would be better directed at encouraging customers back into pubs and clubs.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, not least the licenced trade, and that trade will need as much support as we can give to get back on its feet. “Much depends on when things change for the better, but we are considering ways to celebrate this change when it does occur, possibly by arranging co-ordinated pub visits in towns across the county, and promoting locally brewed beers.

“In the meantime, please stay safe, and if you can support our pubs and breweries by taking advantage of any delivery or “click and collect” services they offer, please do.

“Of our breweries, Consett, Hill Island, Durham, Yard of Ale, and McColl’s are currently offering such facilities (visit www.camradurham.org.uk for details), as are a number of pubs, a list of which can be found by visiting www.whatpub.com.”

Anyone aware of other pubs or breweries in the area offering such services is asked to inform the branch so it can update its records.