Organisers last night raised a glass to Norwich as the UK’s real ale capital at the end of the City of Ale festival.

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The past 10 days have seen thousands of pints pulled in pubs across the city, with visitors arriving from as far away as the USA to taste one of the 200-plus ales on offer.

Dawn Leeder, co-chair of the City of Ale, said the festival had delivered on its promise of more beers, bars and breweries.

“We have built on the success of City of Ale last year, and put on more for everyone to enjoy,” she said.

“We have managed to get the message to out to even more people, and spread it to further regions of the UK.

“There have been people coming to Norwich from Chester, from York, even a couple who came over from New Jersey.

“They had been here last year and enjoyed it so much that they came back again.”

The 2012 edition of the festival featured 45 events, 35 breweries, eight ale trails, 219 local ales, heritage walks and multimedia presentations, as well as the famed 1954 LoDekka City of Ale bus.

Away from the bar, events included a political debate centring on beer and pub industry issues, a local produce fair, a grand pub quiz and a fundraising auction, from the festival’s base at St Gregory’s in Pottergate.

Mrs Leeder added: “It’s only the second one, but it has been the best. More than that, it’s growing and we are already thinking about next year.”

Mike Baldwin, of Norwich Camra, said the success of the event proved once again that Norwich could legitimately be called the UK’s City of Ale.

“We have more beers per head of population that many of the established ‘crown pretenders’ for the title, such as Derby or Sheffield.

“The others are simply not big enough, and we have proved that we are the UK’s City of Ale.”

“I don’t think there can be anyone else in the running apart from Norwich.”

Mr Baldwin added that the event had demonstrated people understood the importance of supporting their local pubs and breweries, even in difficult times.

“The real ale scene is booming, and is the one sector in the drinks industry that is doing well,” he said, adding that breweries were experimenting with lighter golden ales to appeal to new drinkers.

“At Camra, we’re encouraging younger members to join and we have many students joining us,” he said.

“They come along, they try a beer or a cider, and they like it.”

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