Cheers! City of Ale returns for first festival since 2019

The Norwich City of Ale Festival had it's first launch event for the first time in two years at the Waterfront.

The Norwich City of Ale Festival had it's first launch event for the first time in two years at the Waterfront. - Credit: Angie Sharpe

After years of darkness descending across the beloved boozers of Norwich, long-awaited pints are finally being raised in celebration.

Beer fans poured into the Waterfront for the opening the Norwich City of Ale Festival for the opening event on Thursday.

Philip Cutter, owner of The Murderers and one of the organisers of the festival, said: "It's two years this week since we were last here. It's so wonderful to be back, it's really good for pubs.

Norwich City of Ale Festival opening will have hundreds of different beverages to try.

Norwich City of Ale Festival opening will have hundreds of different beverages to try. - Credit: Francis Redwood

"I think the length of the event - a month - gives people the time to come round and celebrate what Norwich beer, pubs, and brewing is all about."

"It's a great testament to Norwich that we have such a diverse range of pubs and beer here today, as well as during the festival.

"There's no reason not to go into Norwich's pubs and enjoy a good old pint of beer," he added.

The meeting was held at the Murderers pub, owned by Phil Cutter.

The meeting was held at the Murderers pub, owned by Phil Cutter. - Credit: Archant

Punters will be able to enjoy the festivities for even longer than ever with the festival lasting four weeks until June 26 instead of the usual 10 days.

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Claire Brooks, 44, who is a licensee at the Walnut Tree Shades Public House in Old Post Office Court, said: "I have been part of City of Ale since 2011.

"This year has come together quite quickly because we've done a lot of groundwork for the last two years when we had to postpone it.

"I'm very excited about the City of Ale this year - we get extra footfall from it and plenty of customers."

This year the festival will take punters all over the city to a total of 51 pubs and freehouses.

James Kay is co-owner of Farnell Clarke accountants which sponsored the event for the last four years.

Mr Kay, 42, said: "We're all very excited to be back - this one has been in the works for a while now.

James Kay, co-owner of Farnell Clarke accountants, who sponsor Norwich City of Ale Festival.

James Kay, co-owner of Farnell Clarke accountants, who sponsor Norwich City of Ale Festival. - Credit: Francis Redwood

"The main thing is being a month-long event this year we can get everybody included in the fun .

"It's great so many pubs are attending and it's great to see all the banners, beer mats and everything else."

The Norwich City of Ale opening event was held at the Waterfront.

The Norwich City of Ale opening event was held at the Waterfront. - Credit: Francis Redwood

Remembering the city's lost pubs

While droves of thirsty folk arrive on the doorsteps of Norwich's watering holes, it is a timely reminder to businesses which are no longer around.

Paul Dickson, who puts on walking tours throughout the city, reveals some boozers that time has forgotten.

He said: "The White Swan, a 15th century inn on the site of The Forum was a coaching inn and playhouse in the 18th century. 

"Norwich Company of Comedians staged plays there in first half of 18th century and moved over to the Theatre Royal when it opened in 1758 leading to the White Swan closing in the 1890s.

"Café Nero on Gentleman's Walk used to be The Jenny Lind pub, named after the Victorian Swedish singer, who staged fundraising concerts in Norwich for the children's hospital closed in the 1920s.

"Finally the Star Inn used to be where the Primark site now is - it's recorded as being a coaching inn in the late 17th century before it closed down in 1894."