Norwich City of Ale 2015 going strong - as malts behind the beers are explained
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 May 2015 | UPDATED: 17:29 28 May 2015
They picked the perfect time for a city-wide celebration.
Norwich City of Ale festival organisers have capitalised on the Canaries’ triumph at Wembley and the Radio One Big Weekend at Earlham Park, with a feel-good atmosphere prevailing in pubs.
And as the 10-day event approaches its finale this weekend, co-chairman Phil Cutter said there had been a strong turnout so far.
“We’ve seen lots of new people coming through the doors,” said Mr Cutter, who is licensee of the Murderers pub in Timberhill.
“I’ve been speaking to a few other landlords too and they’ve seen people from outside the region visiting.
“It’s about introducing people to pubs they wouldn’t usually go in to and the ale trails have worked really well for that.
“It’s very gratifying to see, and having so many Norfolk beers on sale is great to see.”
He said that the majority of these ales were brewed with grain from Crisp Malting, which is based in Great Ryburgh near Fakenham.
Malt was one of the region’s “great assets” and the chain from farmer to maltster, brewer to pub helped add millions of pounds to Norfolk’s economy.
The malts behind the beers
It is a crucial ingredient needed to brew the perfect pint.
Malt is to beer as grapes are to wine yet few people know what it is, according to a Norfolk maltster.
Crisp Malting Group – which is based at Great Ryburgh near Fakenham – supplies malt to the majority of Norfolk’s breweries, and managing director Euan Macpherson said he was proud to be part of the local industry.
“Malt is the main ingredient of our national drink – beer,” he said. “Yet few people know what it actually is. It’s simple. Malt is grain – usually barley – that has been steeped, germinated and kilned.”
He said Crisp had followed the three-step, traditional process for the last 140 years.
The firm buys almost 300,000 tonnes of barley from around 250 local farmers each year and turns it into malt for craft brewers and whisky distillers.
Mr Macpherson said that craft beer was increasing in popularity, and City of Ale week was a great excuse to go exploring.
“The whole festival is a brilliant mixture of events, activities and special offers,” he said.
“It attracts new people to Norfolk, showcasing what the region is good at.
“Its fame and success is a real tribute to the organisers.
“We’re raising our glasses to them – as well as to the pubs and breweries involved.”
“It’s great to see an event like City of Ale all come together, and on top of the Norwich win on Monday it’s brought a great feel to the whole industry,” added Mr Cutter.
He stressed that there were four more days in which to enjoy City of Ale, which concludes on Sunday, but added that the festival “doesn’t really finish”.
“It goes on in pubs throughout the year,” he explained. “It’s something pubs do – welcome people in, sell great beer and put on fantastic events.
“These 10 days are really just a showcase of what we have to offer.
“Pubs are there all year – not just City of Ale week.”
More than 40 pubs are signed up to this year’s festival, with 40 breweries contributing a total of 237 real ales.
The event – now in its fifth year – was launched last Thursday with a vintage double decker bus ferrying landlords and brewers from City Hall to a special party at the Narthex, by the Cathedral of St John the Baptist on Earlham Road.
Plenty of special events are taking place until Sunday, including:
Today: The Reindeer pub in Dereham Road is running a free prize draw to win a brewing experience at the Elgood brewery in Wisbech. Request a ticket at the bar from 5pm to 11pm.
Tomorrow: A fish and chips and ale event at the Angel Gardens, in Angel Road.
Saturday: All the award-winning beers from this year’s Camra tasting panel will be on tap at the Plasterers Arms, in Cowgate.
For more details, see www.cityofale.org.uk