Delight as Norwich is chosen to host Camra Winter Ales Festival

Queuing for the 37th Norwich Beer Festival in St Andrews and Blackfriars Halls. Photo: Bill Smith

Queuing for the 37th Norwich Beer Festival in St Andrews and Blackfriars Halls. Photo: Bill Smith

This time next year thousands of ale lovers will descend on the fine city as the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has announced its National Winter Ales Festival will make Norwich its new home.

For the next three years, a selection of almost 500 stouts, milds and porters will take pride of place in St Andrew's Hall.

It adds another string to the city's beerfest bow, joining the long-running Norwich Beer Festival, which is at the end of October, and the City of Ale, which happens every May.

Running from February 21 to 24, the winter festival is expected to be a welcome boost to the economy.

Rob Derbidge, organiser of the Norwich Beer Festival, said the event would bring 'thousands' into the city over the course of three days.

'Camra want a set-up exactly as we do for the Norwich Beer Festival. We will have a lot more people who travel to this one, because people follow it all over the country. That will bring thousands of people into the city and help local businesses in the process.

'It has a very loyal following, and to be able to hold it for three years is a real privilege. It is not just the people coming to drink, but coming to work as well, so there will be a great benefit to the city.'

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Dawn Leeder, co-chair of Norwich City of Ale, said it was inevitable the festival would be held in the 'home of ale'.

She added: 'We are absolutely delighted, and it is entirely appropriate that the Camra National Winter Ale Festival should come to Norwich.

'We have been promoting Norwich as the city of ale and it is great to know Camra agree with us. Real ale is a very wholesome, natural product, and real-ale drinkers are very mature, sociable people. Ale is just part of that mix of community pub life, and I think this can only impact the city positively.

'We have lots of great local breweries, and some of the finest malt and barley in the world. The people who come will spend money outside pubs and beer because they need to eat and sleep, so it is all very good for the economy.'

Gillian Hough, National Winter Ale Festival organiser, added: 'We wish Norwich well with the unique rollercoaster which comes with organising a national festival.'

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