Norwich City of Ale, now in its fourth year, has become an established annual event in the city’s festival calendar.

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"There seems to be a real buzz about the City of Ale this year."

Dawn Leeder, festival co-chairman

Forty-four pubs are taking part in this year’s 10-day celebration, with 200 beers on offer from 39 local breweries.

More than 200 events will be held across the city, from the launch party at Dragon Hall in King Street tomorrow, to the final Sunday on June 1, including live music, sport, quizzes and barbecues.

The first three City of Ale events have established Norwich as the UK’s true ale capital and each year pubs have reported increased sales and footfall.

Co-chairmen of the festival, Dawn Leeder and Phil Cutter said publicans and brewers had really stepped up to the plate this year.

Ms Leeder said: “There seems to be a real buzz about the City of Ale this year, and all the publicans and breweries are getting behind it. We will turn it into a great celebration with 500 metres of bunting, for the first time, courtesy of Crisp Malting Group.

“The festival has put Norwich firmly on the real ales map. Last year, publicans said footfall was up about 15pc during the festival and they sold, on average, seven extra firkins during the period. The visitors also go to the shops in Norwich, so there’s a knock-on effect.”

One focus of this year’s City of Ale will be on events appealing to women, with a FEM.ALE festival at the Plasterers in Cowgate, starting on Friday, May 23, and running until Sunday, May 25.

Roger Protz will be holding a beer-tasting at the Earlham Arms in Earlham Road on Friday, May 23, where Ole Slewfoot brewery is launching a new beer made with wild Brettanomyces yeast.

And across the city, at the Compleat Angler, in Prince of Wales Road, Adnams’ head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald will host a Meet the Brewer session and offer tastings, also on May 23.

Once again the festival has received generous funding from Norwich BID, which has paid for adverts in 20 regional CAMRA publications across the land, plus an ad in What’s Brewing, which has a combined circulation of over 345,000.

News of City of Ale has also spread to Westminster, where the organisers will make a presentation to the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group next month.

There are seven ale trails, totalling just over nine miles, devised by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA, which can be followed on foot with prizes for those who complete them. Stamps Direct is providing the self-inking stamps for ale trailers to collect in order to win a lapel pin badge or a trailblazer T-shirt. The popular brewers’ market returns to Millennium Plain, outside The Forum, on Saturday, where there will be plenty of local ales to try and buy. Golden Star Morris and the City of Ale bus will also be making an appearance. The City of Ale bus, owned and operated by Eastern Transport Collection, is sponsored by Wolf Brewery, and will be providing a number of ticketed tours around the pubs during the festival. The bus will also be running mystery tours to six pubs on each of the Saturdays and also out to local breweries S&P, Humpty Dumpty and Wolf.

The pub banners, printed by Signs Express, are sponsored by Alan Boswell Group.

Lacons Brewery is sponsoring the launch party in Dragon Hall, at the heart of Norwich’s former brewing area, and three local brewers, Golden Triangle, Humpty Dumpty and Panther, are sponsoring the glassware. Brewers have been producing special City of Ale-badged beers this year, with Humpty Dumpty’s City Hoppers and Lacons (City of) Pale Ale.

Norfolk Brewhouse’s Tidal Gold is this year’s City of Ale charity beer, in support of our sister paper the EDP’s Flood Appeal. The brewery is donating 20p for each pint sold.

There are also events to support the Flood Appeal: a beer cake sale at the Earlham Arms on Saturday and Sunday and Rock ‘n’ Roll Bingo at The Cottage in Silver Road, also on May 25, and a great big beer quiz at the Rose in Queens Road, on Wednesday, May 28.

There are mini-festivals running daily: an alphabetical beer festival at The Wig & Pen; a festival of rare and eclectic local ales at The Murderers; a Scottish invasion at The Fat Cat; a bottled ale trail at The Rose and a summer beer festival at The Vine.

At The Jubilee there’s a local brewery pop-up shop and local artists Chedgey & Scarlet have an exhibition running upstairs at Take 5.

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