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Here for the beer: landlords, beer writers and tourism bosses gather in city for ale forum

PUBLISHED: 08:28 12 October 2018

The inaugural British Beer Cities forum is being held in Norwich.

The inaugural British Beer Cities forum is being held in Norwich.

Archant

Pub landlords, beer writers and tourism bosses from eight cities across the UK shared their knowledge on beer tourism during a forum in Norwich.

Stefan Gurney, Phil Cutter and Dawn Leeder at the British Beer Cities forum in Norwich.Stefan Gurney, Phil Cutter and Dawn Leeder at the British Beer Cities forum in Norwich.

The event on Tuesday, held at the Georgian Townhouse, on Unthank Road, was part of the inaugural forum of British Beer Cities, a network of pubs across the country hosting and promoting city-wide beer festivals.

Frances Brace, who has worked in the pub, beer and beer supply chain industries for more than 20 years, said the aim of the network is to bring economic activity back to city and town centres, with the pub as a “social hub”.

“Regenerating towns and city centres is absolutely crucial at this moment,” she said. “People’s lifestyles have changed. They don’t go to into the city centres.”

She said that people “still need to talk to each other”.

Phil Cutter, Dawn Leeder and David Powles at the British Beer Cities forum in Norwich.Phil Cutter, Dawn Leeder and David Powles at the British Beer Cities forum in Norwich.

“There is something special about the pub, where people can feel comfortable with colleagues, with family. It is a neutral space, conducive to conversation.”

The forum explored both how to promote beer tourism domestically and establish Britain as a “beer destination”.

“Real ale, cask ale, is virtually unique to Britain,” Ms Brace said. “Particularly here in Norfolk, the barley is grown in our region and malted in our region.”

The seven other beer cities are Sheffield, Stockport, Cheltenham and Gloucester, Brighton, York, Oxford and Birmingham. Representatives gave presentations describing their experiences.

Speakers included Pete Brown, author and broadcaster specialising in food and drink, who gave an overview of the current state of the market.

Roger Protz, journalist and campaigner, spoke about his travels to other cities famous for beer, such as Munich in Germany, and spoke of how pubs in Britain could do more to follow in the footsteps of their European counterparts.

Norwich became the first City of Ale in 2011. There are seven ale trails throughout the city.

Ms Brace said: “When people do the ale trails, they discover more pubs, little gems they would never have discovered.”

Other speakers at the forum were David Wilson, public affairs director at the British Beer and Pub Association, and Andrew Daines, director of VisitFlanders, the official destination marketing agency for Flanders and Brussels, who spoke about using beer as a key driver for tourism.

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