Flotilla of boats carrying beer will mark launch of 2019 City of Ale Festival

The Amitie, which is carrying a friendship beer for Norwich City of Ale. Picture: Courtesy of The No

The Amitie, which is carrying a friendship beer for Norwich City of Ale. Picture: Courtesy of The Norfolk Brewhouse - Credit: Courtesy of The Norfolk Brewhous

It is a voyage that celebrates a 900-year-old relationship with our European neighbours and a shared passion for beer.

Norfolk Brewhouse in Hindringham teaming up with French brewers Northmaen Brewery to brew Amitie a s

Norfolk Brewhouse in Hindringham teaming up with French brewers Northmaen Brewery to brew Amitie a special collaborative brew for Norwich City of Ale. Norfolk Brewhouse are using locally malted barley supplied by Crisp Maltings. Pictured are Bruce Ash (R) Brewer at The Norfolk Brewhouse with Dominique Camus from Northaen. - Credit: Angela Sharpe Photography

Centuries ago, ships sailed across the English Channel from Normandy to deliver Caen stone for construction of Norwich Cathedral.

Now, hundreds of years later and that same journey has been recreated - this time with a boat-load of beer to mark the start of the 2019 City of Ale Festival.

On Sunday, a wooden vessel set sail from Normandy in France carrying a friendship ale created by Northmaen Brewery in Rouen and the Norfolk Brewhouse in Hindringham.

And later today, the ship's precious cargo will make its way up the River Yare and Wensum to The Waterfront for the ale festival's launch.


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David Holliday, brewer at the Norfolk Brewhouse, said: "Last year we did a collaboration with them [Nortmaen] and they came over and brewed with us at Hindringham.

"When they went into Norwich and saw all the stone on the cathedral and realised the history between Rouen and Norwich, they said 'next year, we will retrace the journey of the stone'.

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"They were determined to make that happened and now here they are."

The jointly-brewed ale, called Amitié, marks the 60th anniversary of the twinning of Norwich and Rouen.

As it was carried across the channel, the cargo was accompanied by a crew of brewers dressed up as Vikings - a nod to Norfolk and Normandy's rich Viking heritage.

But just hours into the voyage and the 23m long boat ran into problems.

On Monday afternoon (May 20) it had to be rescued by a lifeboat after it lost power about 35 miles off the English coast.

Despite the hiccup, the crew did not give up.

The French brewery arranged for a van to drive across from Rouen to Harwich to pick up the cargo and transport it to Coldham Hall in Surlingham.

Mr Holliday said the crew then caught a train to Norwich.

Later today, a flotilla of smaller boats will transport the ale along the River Yare and into Norwich for the ale festival's launch.

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