Why does Norfolk win so many beer awards? Norwich City of Ale festival will have the answer
- Credit: Red Flame Communications
Norfolk's perfect blend of world-renowned malting barley production and craft brewing expertise have combined to secure a raft of beer awards which will be celebrated at today's launch of the Norwich City of Ale festival.
After the last century's closure of many of its most iconic beer-makers, Norfolk now boasts 44 breweries, with a further 27 in neighbouring Suffolk.
And the region's rising reputation as one of the world's top beer locales has been underlined with a host of recent national and international accolades:
- Dawn Leeder, the technologist who co-founded the Norwich City of Ale festival with the Murderers pub landlord Phil Cutter, has been named Innovator of the Year by trade magazine Imbibe.
- Crisp maltings, based at Great Ryburgh, near Fakenham, won the business growth prize at the North Norfolk Business Awards, having developed their services to craft brewers - as a further testament, 20 of the 33 winners at the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) National Beer Awards use Crisp's malt.
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- Norfolk Brewhouse in Hindringham won the small business category at the North Norfolk Business Awards, followed by a silver award at SIBA's national beer awards - and then capped a successful awards season by becoming East of England Co-op's Producer of the Year in March.
- Great Yarmouth brewer Lacons celebrated winning the Campaign for Real Ale's Champion Winter Beer of Britain for its Audit Ale.
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- Wolf Brewery, based at Besthorpe near Attleborough, was another winner at SIBA's 2019 National Beer Awards, taking home a gold award for Sirius Dog Star, while Green Jack Brewery in Lowestoft won a bronze medal for its Lurcher stout.
- At the International Brewing Awards, Woodforde's, from Woodbastwick in the Broads, was awarded a gold medal in the cask ale competition for its Volt IPA.
Farmers and maltsters said the success was no surprise, given the world-renowed quality of the supply chain in Norfolk.
Brian Finnerty, regional communications adviser for the National Farmers' Union in East Anglia, said: "The best beers require the best ingredients and we are right in the heart of the best barley-growing region in the world. That's where the beer supply chain starts.
"It's widely acknowledged that cereal growers in our region produce the finest quality barley, including the celebrated Maris Otter variety.
"The East of England remains a centre for this crucial crop, thanks to its combination of soil composition, climate and farming expertise. This ensures that barley grown here meets the exacting standards of maltsters such as Crisp."
Adrian Dyter, managing director of Crisp said: "The 200-plus farmers who supply us are - literally and figuratively - true experts in their fields. The quality of grain they produce allows us to create exceptional malts. In the hands of skilled craft brewers, these result in beers packed with flavour and character.
All of the recent award-winners are expected to be at the launch of the Norwich City of Ale festival at The Waterfront this afternoon.
The festival takes place across the city from May 23 to June 2, with nearly 50 pubs running events, being part of the Ale Trails, and serving the region's prize-winning beers.
"We are so very lucky to have City of Ale to showcase the amazing beers brewed in the area," added Mr Dyter. "The ten-day celebration has had a big impact over the years, inspiring many other city-wide beer festivals, and earning well-deserved recognition for Dawn and Phil.
"They were the first to create a city-wide beer festival back in 2011 - and the event has gone from strength to strength."