Festival to launch beer with French connection to mark Rouen links

Dawn Leeder and Phil Cutter, 2nd right, during the launch the 2017 City of Ale. With them from left,

Dawn Leeder and Phil Cutter, 2nd right, during the launch the 2017 City of Ale. With them from left, Lord Mayor's consort, Paul Goymer; Lord Mayor, David Fullman; and Sheriff, David Walker. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Links between Norfolk and Normandy will be celebrated this year as the annual City of Ale festival prepare to launch a beer with a French connection.

The festival marks its eighth year in 2018, taking place across 40 Norwich pubs in May.

And this year it will host a collaboration between the Norfolk Brewhouse and Northmaen Brewery in Rouen.

Norwich and Rouen were twinned in 1959, and almost six decades later the special relationship between the two cities will be further cemented with the help of David Holliday of the Norfolk Brewhouse.

'The City of Ale Festival is always such a great celebration of Norfolk breweries and Norwich pubs, two very important aspects of our vibrant culture,' he said. 'The twinning with cities is also important to Norwich and when I explored the agricultural similarities of the two areas I felt that creating a beer which could complement the strengths of both regions would be a fitting tribute.

'Finding the right brewer was also very important to us, as we wanted to make the link with the rural and city communities in France in the same way that the City of Ale does with Norwich and Norfolk.'

Rouen is home to a city centre craft beer pub – La Taverne de Thor – which is owned by Northmaen Brewery, a farm and brewery based 20 miles outside of the city.

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'The fact that we found not only a brewery with a city and county base was fantastic but to then learn that they grow their own barley on the brewery farm was the icing on the cake,' added My Holliday. 'We are such advocates of Norfolk Maris Otter barley that to find someone who was equally proud of their malt was just fabulous.'

The plan now is to twin the two malts – with the Northmaen Brewery brining over their malt to be blended with Norfolk Maris Otter from local maltsters Crisp Malting.

As part of the planning for the ale, Thomas Renaux and Dominque Camus of Northmaen Brewery are in Norwich this week to create the recipe and bring over a sample of their grain in order that a test brew can be created by The Norfolk Brewhouse.

The plan is also for Norfolk Brewhouse beers to be sent to France to be part of the large Viking festival in Normandy in June.

City of Ale 2018 runs from 24 May – 3 June. For more information visit cityofale.org.uk