Camra praises Norwich ahead of City of Ale Festival

It's official – Norwich is the UK's City of Ale.

That's according to a new book, Camra's 101 Beer Days Out.

A recent survey by a team of Camra volunteers visited 136 pubs in the city one summer evening and found 215 different ales on sale. That's enough to make Norwich the top city in the UK for real ale, per head of population, topping recent claims made by Sheffield and Derby.

Camra's 101 Beer Days Out also praises Norwich for having not just one but two beer festivals.

The book says: 'Many cities have one beer festival, but, supporting the claims that it is the top and thriving place for real ale, Norwich has two.

'For more than 30 years Camra's Norwich and Norfolk branch has been organising the Norwich Beer Festival. Held in October in St Andrew's and Blackfriars Halls, it features more than 200 different real ales.

'In addition, for the first time in 2011, the city authorities organised their own festival, the City of Ale. Several pub trails and other events were organised with the intention of getting people back into pubs.'

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The book also hails the Evening News' Love Your Local campaign, and praises our efforts for highlighting the role pubs play in the community and for warning punters to either 'use them or lose them'.

The book also highlights the many Norfolk breweries including Woodforde's in Woodbastwick.

It recommends incorporating the brewery in a walk on the Broads and says: 'The thatched Fur and Feather pub is the tap for the adjacent Woodforde's brewery. Wherry was the first commercial beer brewed by home brewers Ray Ashworth and Dr David Crease when they set up the brewery in 1981. The beer, named after a type of sailing boat used to transport people and goods on the Norfolk Broads, has carried Woodforde's to success as it is a former Camra Champion Beer of Britain.'

It also recommends visiting three of Norwich's best real ale pubs – the Murderers in Timberhill, the Fat Cat in West Ed Street and the King's Head in Magdalen Street.

It says: 'The Murderers, one of the city's famed real ale pubs, which sources beers from brewers large and small across East Anglia.

'The meandering pub, which is full of nooks and crannies, is also popular with footie fans as it has several screens for watching games.'

It also recommends seeking out the Fat Cat, which it calls an 'outstanding example of a real ale pub, which features beer not just from its brewery but 25-plus guest ales from across the country.

'The pub hosts a large collection of brewing memorabilia, so there is always something to catch the eye and start a beery conversation.'

Of the King's Head in Magdalen Street, it says: 'An understated gem. Its charm is its urbane simplicity together with a large range of excellently kept, locally-brewed beers.

'Shunning keg beers, the house bitter comes from the city's Winter's Brewery.'

Also mentioned in the 101 Days Out book's section on Norfolk are the Poppy Line, a rail tour through north Norfolk, Wells, the Real Ale shop and a North Sea clipper.

The Fat Cat and the King's Head also both feature in Camra's 2012 Great British Pubs guide.

The guide, dubbed the ultimate celebration of the nation's favourite pastime, lists nearly 300 of the country's best pubs in 23 different categories.

The guide says that the King's Head is 'the English pub as a home from home'.

It continues: 'Norwich positively oozes great pubs; places like the King's Head. On my visit there were 11 cask beers on display, all of them chalked up on a blackboard, and all of them coming from East Anglia.'

The guide is compiled by internationally-acclaimed beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones, who said: 'All these pubs have something to offer beyond the promise of good beer, great food and plenty of cheer.'

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