A new beer has been launched to celebrate Norwich's long history of ale.

Eastern Daily Press: The launch of the Woodfordes charity beer Murtel Fish Ale for the City of Ale, in aid of Sistema, at the Maids Heads Hotel. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe launch of the Woodfordes charity beer Murtel Fish Ale for the City of Ale, in aid of Sistema, at the Maids Heads Hotel. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY (Image: Copyright: Archant 2016)

Murtel Fish Ale, a new signature brew by Woodforde's, was launched at the Maids Head Hotel in Tombland yesterday, just in time for the Norwich City of Ale festival which starts tomorrow.

The beer takes its name from the Murtel Fish Tavern, the Maids Head's predecessor, which was trading in Wensum Street, then known as Cook Rowe, from at least 1287.

The change of name to the Maids Head was confirmed by John Paston in a letter dated November 2, 1482, in which he recommended the inn as a good place to stable your horse.

The hotel will be supporting Sistema in Norwich during City of Ale by donating 20p to the local music charity for every pint of Murtel Fish Ale sold.

The Maids Head Hotel is believed to be the oldest Norman site in the city after the castle.

It was built on the site of a house owned by the early Norman bishops, and it was this house that became a guest house for visitors to the cathedral.

The Murtel Fish Tavern was also known as the Molde Fish Tavern.

Christine Malcolm, general manager of the Maids Head, said: 'We have had a long and successful relationship with Woodforde's and are very proud to be serving Norfolk beer in our 16th century Maids Head bar.

'Naming a beer Murtel Fish Ale celebrates more than 800 years of hospitality on this site.

'We are also very pleased to be supporting Sistema in Norwich and hope to have a busy City of Ale festival.'

Rupert Farquharson, managing director of Woodforde's, said: 'As well as brewing delicious local beer, part of our duty is to preserve and promote the rich heritage of Norfolk.

'The Maids Head as a venue is steeped in charm and history with a unique story to be told.

'We hope that Murtel Fish Ale helps to keep this heritage alive and captivate drinkers throughout City of Ale and beyond, whilst providing valuable funds for Sistema in Norwich.'

The Murtel Fish Tavern is first mentioned in Norwich records in 1287-88.

The landlord is named as John de Ingham.

Edward the Black Prince, eldest son of King Edward III, was entertained at the tavern in 1359 when he attended a joust.

Sistema in Norwich works to transform the lives of children and young people through participation in music.

The charity involves them in learning to play a musical instrument and being part of an orchestra.

Marcus Patteson, programme director for Sistema in Norwich, said: 'It is fantastic to get support from such a high profile Norwich business as the Maids Head.'

Sistema in Norwich draws inspiration from El Sistema, the Venezuelan music programme that has more than 30 years experience, of how a music programme can both create great musicians and dramatically change the life of disadvantaged children.

See www.sistemanorwich.org.uk

Paul Dickson, a city of Norwich tourist guide, is leading two historic pub tours during City of Ale on Tuesday, May 31 and Friday, June 3, starting at the Maids Head at 6pm and ending back at the hotel's bar for a Murtel Fish Ale sampling session.

The tour, including beer sampling, costs £4.50.

To book, call 01603 272008, or email events@maidsheadhotel.co.uk