Party time for pubs as Norwich City of Ale Festival launches

Lets all hail this fine city's ale and its wonderful pubs - that was the overriding message being heralded at the launch of Norwich's very first City of Ale Festival.

A total of 31 pubs and 35 breweries are involved in the 10-day festival which organisers hope will help make Norwich a world-renowned centre for real ale.

Roger Protz, editor of the Good Beer Guide and Chris Higgins, sheriff of Norwich and landlord of the Trafford Arms pub, helped launch the festival last night.

The venue which launched the event, St Gregory's Church, near Norwich's Pottergate, proved to be a fitting choice given the proud history of pubs and brewing in this city.

Mr Protz issued a plea to the government to stop 'destroying' the beer and pub industry by helping to ease the burden of VAT and excise duty in pubs - and to stop suppermarkets being able to sell alcohol 'cheaper than bottled water'.

He said: 'Norwich is setting the pace. I hope other towns ands cities do what you're doing to boost our beautiful beer.'

For Mr Higgins the event was one of his first as sheriff after being formerly appointed at a ceremony at City Hall earlier this month.

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Mr Higgins, who arrived wearing his ceremonial dress including chains, said: 'I applaud the City of Ale Festival – let the rest of the country take note and may this be the first of many. Cheers.'

Phil Cutter, co-chair of the Norwich City of Ale steering group and landlord of The Murderers in Timberhill, said the festival was a 'fantastic opportunity for pubs'.

The festival, which fits in with the Evening News's Love Your Local campaign, was backed this week by Bob Neill MP, the minister with responsibility for supporting the country's pubs.

It hopes to encourage people to not only visit their local, but also take a trip to other pubs they might not have ever visited before.

Members of the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which is supporting the event, have helped devise a series of ale trails made up of five or six pubs each.

People wanting to take part in all the trails will be able to collect a stamp from each of the 31 participating pubs during the festival, as well as one token printed in the Evening News throughout the festival, and win a limited edition City of Ale Trailblazer T-Shirt.

Over the 10 days there will be scores of events, including live music, quizzes and barbecues, taking place at a number of participating pubs.

But one of the highlights of the festival will be the Brewers' Market which takes place at the Forum from 10am on Saturday, giving local beer makers the chance to promote the best of what they produce.

To find out more about the festival log onto

To find out more about Love Your Local log onto

Have you got a story for the campaign? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email

• See our Going Out supplement and pages 64-65 for other great things to do in the city over the next few days.