CHIEFS of a newly-formed Wyre Forest beer drinkers' branch are celebrating after recruiting 300 members in just over three months.

The Wyre Forest branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), established in February, has swelled the ranks of CAMRA membership as well as its own group thanks partly to a well-attended beer festival at Kidderminster Town Hall last month.

Before the event, the new branch's membership stood at 278 and leaders aimed to reach a target of 300 by the end of the weekend but ended up enrolling 60 new members to CAMRA, with 44 local joining the Wyre Forest branch.

CAMRA nationally has praised the achievement and beer festival organisers said potential new recruits were engaged by a meet-and-greet team at the door and signed up there and then. Another factor was the introduction to a beer styles tasting session, which resulted in a number of visitors wanting to be part of the campaign group.

It topped off an overall successful festival, where organisers were aiming to beat last year's total of 670 visitors, a number which eventually was well exceeded, with 923 walking through the doors.

The event had a coastal ales theme, bringing seldom-seen beers to its venue in the heart of the Midlands, with 24 coastal ales lined up alongside 24 local ales, plus ciders, perrys and wines. Visitors received beer-flavoured rock on arrival, adding to the seaside atmosphere.

Festival organiser Nick Yarwood said: "Many visitors and volunteers made a point of saying how much they enjoyed the selection of beers, the splendid Victorian town hall venue and, most importantly, how friendly and welcoming they found everyone to be, so we'll happily do it all over again at the end of May next year. All in all, it was a great success."

Nearly 70 volunteers took part and 96 per cent of the beer was drunk, together with most of the ciders and perrys. Redruth's Coastal Brewer's Hop Monster was voted coastal beer of the festival, with Fownes Korvak's Triumph winning in the local section.