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Beer expert says brews at Norwich’s City of Ale are more interesting than Oktoberfest

PUBLISHED: 15:55 14 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:00 14 June 2016

People celebrate the opening of the 181th Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. The world's largest beer festival will be held from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

People celebrate the opening of the 181th Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. The world's largest beer festival will be held from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

First Sheffield tried to challenge Norwich’s City of Ale crown.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich Marion Maxwell, Sheriff Richard Marks and members of The City of Ale team are picked up by Woodfordes Horse and Dray from City Hall to to be taken to the Roman Catholic Cathedral for the launch party for Norwich City of Ale 2016.
Marion Maxwell pictured with Herbie.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY The Lord Mayor of Norwich Marion Maxwell, Sheriff Richard Marks and members of The City of Ale team are picked up by Woodfordes Horse and Dray from City Hall to to be taken to the Roman Catholic Cathedral for the launch party for Norwich City of Ale 2016. Marion Maxwell pictured with Herbie. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

But that seems a distant memory as leading beer writer Roger Protz placed the Fine City’s festival above Munich’s famous Oktoberfest on the evidence of the beers at this year’s event, which featured 45 pubs and 36 breweries.

Writing in his regular column for the Morning Advertiser, the magazine for the pub trade, Mr Protz waxed lyrical about his visit to City of Ale.

He drew comparisons between this year’s launch event and Oktoberfest, with Lord Mayor of Norwich Marion Maxwell parading through the city by horse and dray.

However, it was the beers that set Norwich apart.

Among those on offer were experimental creations brewed by Martin Warren at the Poppyland Brewery in Cromer.

These included a Belgian-style Saison, a Norwegian farmhouse ale flavoured with the addition of

spruce foraged from the clifftops, and Tragic Empress Imperial Austrian Porter, a strong dark ale in honour

of the estranged wife of the 19th century Austrian emperor Franz Joseph.

Mr Protz concludes: “Beers brewed with coffee, spruce and in honour of a long-dead Austrian princess.

“On the eve of the referendum, I don’t want to upset my German ancestors, but there are rather more interesting beers being brewed in Britain than the lagers offered at the Oktoberfest.”

There was also praise for festival organisers Dawn Leeder and Phil Cutter, who is landlord of The Murderers pub in Timber Hill.

“What unites them is a love of good beer and pubs,” wrote Mr Protz.

City of Ale was first held in 2010 and attracts visitors from across the country.

In addition to offering a wider-than-normal range of beers in pubs across the city, there were added extras such as tutored beer tastings and talks from beer writers.

The event has inspired similar festivals across the country, including in Sheffield.

This year’s 10-day festival concluded on June 5.

As the critical acclaim continues and the crowds keep visiting, the future looks bright for the City of Ale.

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