Raise your glass

City of Ale 2015 logo

City of Ale 2015 logo - Credit: Archant

Norwich City of Ale once again toasts the city’s pint-pulling heritage. Mark Nicholls discovers what’s on offer for this month’s event.

It’s an opportunity to raise a glass to Norfolk’s brewing heritage and Norwich’s fine array of pubs and inns. Now in its fifth year, Norwich City of Ale is a celebration of the ongoing revival in beer brewed across the region and enjoyed in scores of city pubs.

Hatched out of a conversation at the 2010 Norwich Beer Festival, the first event in 2011 saw about 30 pubs involved but that is set to reach record levels for 2015 and top 50 with 30-40 breweries contributing a wholesome range of ales. The event runs from May 21-31 and sees pubs selling locally-brewed beers and hosting a range of activities to complement the occasion.

Landlord of The Murderers on Timber Hill, Philip Cutter, who is co-chairman of City of Ale 2015, says: “In the late 1970s, Norwich was known as a beer desert, but fast forward 30-odd years and Norfolk is now a hotbed of brewing. There are almost 40 breweries producing beer from malt and barley grown in north Norfolk and hundreds of great pubs - many of them with a long and colourful history - selling excellent real ale. City of Ale is a showcase of everything we have in that respect and something that we should be celebrating.”

His co-chairman Dawn Leeder from PintPicker, a database of UK real ales, says 2015 is set to be a record year for the festival, which is going from strength to strength.

“There’ll be a great atmosphere and great beers on offer with some of the breweries brewing beers specifically for City of Ale. Another advantage is that many of the pubs taking part are close together and are linked by a walkable ale trail.

“The event continues Norwich’s brewing heritage, showcases its fantastic pubs and truly promotes Norwich as the UK’s City of Ale.”

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Behind the bar

Organisers expect a record number of pubs to participate in City of Ale this year with the number topping 50, including:

Trafford Arms

Completely destroyed by enemy action in June 1942, but by July 1943 was carrying on trading in a temporary building known as the Chicken House. Rebuilt in 1955, Chris and Glynis Higgins have been licensees of the Trafford Arms since 1992 and run a popular Valentine’s beer festival every year. In May 2011, Chris became Sheriff of Norwich. Expect to see a wide selection of City of Ale beers including ales from Adnams, Grain, Humpty Dumpty and Panther.

61 Grove Road, Norwich, NR1 3RL; 01603 628466; www.traffordarms.co.uk

Opening times: Monday–Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-11.30pm and Sunday noon to 10.30pm

Sir Garnet

A pub which has overlooked Norwich Market for many centuries, it is thought that original parts of the Sir Garnet acted as a market hall for traders in medieval times. It began trading as a public house in 1861, named after Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley who had won widespread admiration for his military campaigns, leading to the common British Army phrase “All Sir Garnet” meaning “all is in order”.

36 Market Place, Norwich, NR2 1RD; 01603 615892; www.thesirgarnet.co.uk

Opening Times: Monday-Thursday10am-midnight, Friday-Saturday 10am-2am, Sunday 10.30am-8.30pm

Lamb Inn

Originally an inn known as The Holy Lamb as early as the 12th century, and built using bricks from a nearby church, this pub was first recorded as trading from 1574. The pub is renowned for its ghost stories, including the spirit of landlord John Aggis, who was brutally murdered by his brother-in-law in the cellar in 1787. The Lamb has also survived a flood in 1917 and a fire in 1939. Renamed the Rat and Parrot in 1996 and Henry’s Café Bar in 2002, it became The Lamb Inn again in 2011.

Lamb Yard, Orford Place, Norwich, NR1 3RU; 01603 625365; www.lambinn-norwich.co.uk

Opening times: Monday-Wednesday 11am-11pm, Thursday 11am-midnight, Friday 11am-12.30am, Saturday 10am-12.30am, Sunday noon until 10pm.

Adam and Eve

A Grade II listed building, the Adam and Eve lays claim to being the oldest pub in Norwich and dates from 1249. Its construction is of brick and flint built around a Saxon wall. Its first known listing as a pub was in 1760 with John Thorpe as licensee. Between 1845 and 1860 Elizabeth Howes, former landlady and wherry owner, transported sand from Great Yarmouth beach for the floor of the pub, which also had a reputation for being involved in smuggling. City of Ale beers include Adnams, Wolf and Woodforde’s.

17 Bishopgate, Norwich, NR3 1RZ; 01603 667423

Opening times: Monday-Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday noon-10.30pm

Between 30 and 40 breweries from across Norfolk will be involved, along with some from Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. They include:

The Norfolk Brewhouse

Located in the middle of the country’s finest barley growing region, The Norfolk Brewhouse takes full advantage of the riches on the doorstep, utilising the best produce and what the ground offers beneath their feet with chalk-filtered water from their own well to brew the their simple yet distinctive beers. Known as Moon Gazer Ale, the selection of beers are inspired by the brown hares which share the brewery’s Norfolk farm location and include Amber Ale (4pc), Golden Ale (4pc), Ruby Ale (4pc), Dark Mild (4.8pc) and Tidal Gold (5pc).

Moon Gazer Barn, Harvest Lane, Hindringham, NR21 0PW; 01328 878495; www.norfolkbrewhouse.co.uk


Following in the 200-year-old footsteps of John Patteson, the once-famous S&P brewery name has been resurrected by Andy Keely and his son, Tom. The new incarnation of S&P is situated on land once owned by Steward and Patteson and, from a 10-barrel plant, produces an ever-growing number of distinctive beers made with water drawn from their own bore well and locally malted Maris Otter barley. Beers include First Light (4.1pc), Eve’s Drop (4.3pc), Darkest Hour (4.4pc) and NASHA (5.0pc).

Homestead, Drayton Lane, Horsford, NR10 3AN; 07552 300768; www.spbrewery.co.uk


Pubs across Norwich have enthusiastically embraced City of Ale and have lined up numerous events and activities. For full details of all participating pubs, breweries and ales available as well as events and other City of Ale information, visit www.cityofale.org.uk/2015 to download the City of Ale programme.