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Norwich City of Ale bigger and better

Added: Saturday, May 14th 2022

City of Ale

Above: David Holliday of Norfolk Brewhouse and Dawn Hopkins of the Rose Inn, two of the key players in City of Ale

The 10th Norwich City of Ale festival is back after two yesrs of lockdown and the event this year runs from Thursday 26 May to Sunday 26 June.

“It’ll be great to have festival lovers back after a two year break,” says Phil Cutter, co-founder of City of Ale and licensee of the Murderers pub. 

“While it’s been away, our Beer Week has miraculously turned into a Beer Month. That gives people more time to get round the 51 amazing pubs on the trails, and to sip and savour beers from the 27 fabulous local breweries involved. 

A‘Festival of Champions at the Waterfront in Norwich on Thursday 26 May will launch the month of ale trails and beery delights.  All the beers on the bar that night will be award-winners – and they will all come from breweries in the region.

“The world’s best barley is grown and malted in North Norfolk,” says Phil, “so it’s hardly surprising that there are so many award-winning beers brewed here. It seemed appropriate for the 10th Festival to have a party of champions – and the aim is to make it a champion occasion for everyone.”

Tickets for the Festival of Champions, City of Ale launch party are available from the Waterfront:- . Roger Protz, renowned beer writer and former editor of the Good Beer Guide, will open the festival.

Individual pubs will be organising events throughout the month, but the main focus this year is on Ale Trails. These encourage visitors to explore the streets and alleys of Norwich, discovering bits of history, art and architecture -- and gems of pubs -- they might otherwise have missed. 

Norwich City of Ale beer week was founded by Phil and Dawn Leeder. “It all came about because we both love our city,” says Phil. “We wanted pubs here to thrive; and also wanted to see the brilliant beers from our region being celebrated.” 

It was the first ‘beer week’ of its kind, and the model has now been replicated across the country “Much of the success has been down to Dawn’s energy and commitment, all given on a voluntary basis. She shaped the festival and put Norwich as a beer destination firmly on to the map,” Phil adds.

Dawn stepped down after nine years co-chairing City of Ale with Phil and her role has been taken on by the energetic David Holliday from Norfolk Brewhouse, a long time supporter of Norwich City of Ale.


Bouchart X

David Holliday has celebrated another 10th anniversary -- of his Norfolk Brewhouse, famous for its Moon Gazer beers. The beer is Boucharet X, a mild ale that weighs in at 10 per cent alcohol.

"People will say milds aren't that strong but originally they were a lot stronger," David says. "Mild referred not to strength but to the low hopping rate and low bitterness and freshness, moving away from the practice of drinking aged beers in the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Some of these strong, fresh and even goldens milds were Britain's favourite tipple. Then along came World War One and the need to raise taxes and the Chancellor stepped in to tax the most popular beer. Brewers responded by reducing the amount of tax they paid by reducing the strength of mild.

"The same thing happened in World War Two and by the 1970s mild had become weaker and darker.

"That's why for our birthday beer we decided to super-charge our dark mild Bouchart from 4.9 per cent to a rather grandiose Bouchart X at 10 per cent."

The backbone of the beer is Norfolk-grown Maris Otter barley, along with chocolate malt, crystal malt and a touch of wheat. British hops Goldings and Pilgrim add a touch of blackcurant, honey and spice to the complex malt flavours.