City of Ale 2014 – The Launch Party

Last Thursday I was invited to attend the invite only launch party of City of Ale at Dragon Hall in Norwich, along with many of Norwich’s finest publicans and brewers.

Arriving soon after opening at 6:30pm, I was greeted outside by Tim & Katie from The Jubliee with whom I shared a smoke and a chat before heading inside. Once inside I saw many recognisable faces, and got chatting to Moses from Fakir Brewery. Due to chatting, I had no beer at this point and heard Sadie summon me over saying “Nate, you can’t stand there without a beer!” and she had a point!

Firstly I must note that all of the beers on the night were served bright, as they only had an hour set up so there was no time for secondary fermentation in the cask at the venue. Most were polypins (bag in a box) so it wasn’t too bad, although I do think that because it was bright beer, none of it was as good as it should have and could have been.

My first beer of the evening was Woodfordes Craft Lager (4.1%) and it wasn’t good. It was more than a little sweet, and I’m not sure it had been lagered for long enough. Or at all. Also, why is their lager classed as ‘craft’ when Wherry isn’t?

I next went for S&P Brewery Nasha IPA (5%). This poured a nice amber colour and was bursting with hops, yet there was a nice caramel backbone to hold it all together and tone down the bitterness. It was delicious!

We then had the speeches by Dawn Leeder, The Lord Mayor & The Sheriff of Norwich, which were great as always but I think everyone was getting impatient as they were hungry and the food wasn’t allowed to be served until after that!

I decided to go for a pint of what was labelled Redwell Pale Ale (4%) only to take a sniff, and a mouthful to discover that it was actually their 6% IPA! As much as I like their pale ale, it was definitely a pleasant surprise to get their IPA. Redwell IPA is one of the best beers in Norfolk, by far, and it paired brilliantly with Brays Cottage Wild Garlic Pork Pies.

I then discovered the hog roast, just after I got a pint of Norfolk Brewhouse Tidal Gold IPA (5%). This brought mounds and mounds of tropical fruits, with a hell load of bitterness and a wafer thin biscuit base. It was absolutely brilliant and probably my beer of the night!

I needed a serious food injection at this point so I put my dislike of morris dancing aside and braved the bells to go outside and grab a hog roast. Deliciously fatty & salty pork, aromatic stuffing and bittersweet apple sauce went so well with the Tidal Gold I was drinking at the time.

I then decided to finally fight my way over to where Lacons Brewery the launch night sponsors were, to catch up with their brewer, my buddy Wil Wood who needs no introduction! He invited me to pour a pint of their Heritage Series Pale Ale which was brilliant (I got to sample it at the brewery on Saturday too), but a more detailed analysis will come in another blog!

After tapping notes into my phone, I decided to stop being so anti-social, have some more beers and chat to more people.

It was a really good night as I got to catch up with some really cool people as well as put some names to twitter profiles, and drink some delicious beers.

Many thanks to Dawn for inviting me, and for everyone involved in City of Ale!


I took photos but my phone didn’t seem to save them, which is annoying.


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