The city has once again proved it’s flying the flag for real ale with 16 pubs from across Norwich included in the pages of the 2013 Camra Good Beer Guide.

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There are 105 Norfolk pubs in the guide with 15 new entries - including three from Norwich.

The Gate House, in Dereham Road, makes a welcome return to the guide after one year’s absence while the Fat Cat Brewery Tap, in Lawson Road, and the White Lion, in Oak Street, are newcomers.

The guide also highlights the number of breweries across the country and there are now 31 breweries in Norfolk, two up on last year.

Nationally there are now 1,009 breweries; the highest number for more than 70 years, with 158 having opened in just 12 months.

Graham Freeman, chairman of the Norwich and Norfolk branch of Camra, said: ”It’s fantastic that we have now got such a choice of real ales at our pubs across the county. It’s a great opportunity for people to try out a local brew at a local pub.”

Staff at the White Lion have had a momentous year after the pub earlier won Camra’s East Anglian Regional Cider pub of the year award.

Landlord Ben Ackers said: “It’s been quite a year and a bit of a surprise how well we’ve done.

“Norwich has warmed to us and we have warmed to Norwich.

“We are holding a beer festival to celebrate our first anniversary later in the month.

“We are incredibly lucky with the staff we’ve got. In the next year we plan to continue expanding our cider range.”

Meanwhile, Mark White, landlord at the Fat Cat Brewery Tap, said they had focused on beer and entertainment to build their business.

He said: “For the past year we have been building a business. We have implemented as many new and exciting things as we could in the time frame.

“We have increased and diversified our beer selection, and now have about 20 real ales available on the weekends. In about a fortnight we will also have about 30 bottled beers from across the world in stock. We also have local live music twice a week.”

John Gates, landlord at the Gate House, has seen a rise in the popularity of real ales at his pub.

He said: “Things have picked up a lot with real ales. We also have folk music three nights a week, which is doing well. People who play folk music also seem to like real ales. We are back in the guide after one year’s absence. Prior to that we had five consecutive years in the guide.”

The Good Beer Guide 2013, jointly sponsored by Cask Marque and SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers), features the best 4,500 real ale pubs from across the UK, with details of food, opening hours, beer gardens, accommodation, transport links, disabled access and family facilities.

Camra’s 143,000 members fully update and revise the guide every year.

Andrea Briers, Camra East Anglia regional director, said: “The Good Beer Guide has always been about celebrating the best community pubs serving a high standard of real ale, and in the guide’s 40th year, the competition to become one of the 4,500 pubs included has never been greater. To this day, the guide remains completely independent and driven by the hard work of Camra members surveying their local pubs to ensure readers enjoy the perfect pint of real ale.”

Camra’s regional pub of the year is Compasses, in Littley Green, Essex.

The guide fits in with the Evening News’ Love your Local campaign, which urges people to return to pubs.

To see more stories from the campaign, visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal

The Good Beer Guide 2013 is available from all good retailers, and from the Camra shop (www.camra.org.uk/shop), where it is priced £10 for Camra members and £12.99 for non-members.

Do you have a story about a pub or brewery? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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