A T’ale of Two Beer Cities
In the first ‘twinning’ arrangement of its kind, two of the country’s most famous beer cities are joining forces to promote Britain’s national drink. Sheffield and Norwich are getting together (so to speak) to shout about something they are both exceedingly good at. The aim is to stimulate tourism; encourage people to explore the cities’ great pubs and bars; and to educate them about beer, its ingredients, flavours and aromas.
Organisers of Sheffield Beer Week and Norwich City of Ale met in Sheffield to launch the initiative, discuss opportunities and consider best practice. They were also organising a consignment of Sheffield cask ales to take back to Norwich.
Sheffield and Norwich were voted the top two friendliest cities in the country in a recent Co-op survey. "It's no coincidence," says Dawn Leeder, co-founder of Norwich City of Ale, "that they're also the top two beer cities. What could offer a more friendly, welcoming atmosphere than a beautiful historic pub serving a range of delicious ales?
“We can learn from each other’s experience and plan some joint activities. We can show the importance of breweries and pubs to the economy and the community. And we can educate people about beer, beer styles, ingredients, flavours and aromas. The opportunities are endless!”
Sheffield Beer Week takes place in the second week in March and features more than 40 beer-focused pubs, bars and beer shops. Norwich City of Ale is at the end of May/beginning of June and involves 45 pubs in the city and 40 breweries from the region. Norwich, the smaller and more compact city, has its pubs connected by walkable ale-trails devised by the local CAMRA branch whilst Sheffield has an excellent tram and bus network to speedily propel visitors round the venues.
Jules Gray, chief instigator of Sheffield Beer Week and owner of Hop Hideout said, “It’s really exciting to be working with Dawn and Phil of Norwich City of Ale – and to have access to all their experience. The aim is to work together to showcase the vibrant beer scenes in our great cities – and encourage people from around the country to visit.”
A series of joint seminars and tutored tastings are in the planning stages. These will build on the success last year of the tutored beer tastings at Norwich City of Ale. They involved local brewers and celebrated beer writers Roger Protz, Adrian Tierney-Jones and Matt Curtis. “The overall aim is to reinforce the reputation of the two cities as must-visit beer attractions,” says Dawn.
Phil Cutter, co-founder of City of Ale and landlord at the Murderer's Arms in central Norwich is launching the collaboration in Norwich with a National Winter Ales Festival fringe event. He has collected a variety of Sheffield and Yorkshire ales made with Norfolk malt – and these will appear in Norwich pubs, including the Murderer’s Arms, during week commencing 20th February.
“Norfolk grows some of the very best barley in the world,” says Phil, “much of it is malted locally. We’re proud to see it being used in many of Sheffield’s award-winning beers – and this exchange gives us the opportunity to try some of them.”