Monday, 9 July 2012

Norwich pubs take UK real ale title!

It was a tough ‘job’ but over 30 Members of the Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) carried out a pub and beer survey across the city on Saturday 30th June 2012 and proved again that Norwich is the UK Capital of Real Ale.

The second annual survey, undertaken by the dedicated members of CAMRA by foot, public transport and bicycle, logged an amazing 254 unique real ales available, beating York CAMRA’s result of 247 from their beer census undertaken on the same day.

This also tops Sheffield’s recent claims of 257 to the UK ale capital title, on per head of population because Sheffield’s population of 500,000 is nearly double the population of Norwich (227,000).

The team of volunteers visited almost every pub in the city, a total of 148 pubs, of which 125 (84.5%) offered a total of 569 real ales and 55 real ciders and perries.

The total of 254 different ales, an increase from last year’s total of 215, proves Norwich offers more choice per capita than anywhere else in the country.

Local ales from 19 of the county’s breweries were on sale with Woodforde’s Wherry taking the accolade of most popular ale again, being available in 39 pubs.

Furthermore, 167 beers were exclusive to just one pub on that day and also pubs across the city contributed to the total with 53 pubs selling ales not available anywhere else, such as Caledonian Double Czech at The Cottage in Thorpe St Andrew and 10% Barley Twist in the Heath House, Gertrude Road.

The price of a pint of real ale ranged from £1.89 for a pint of Greene King Ruddles Best in The Bell, to £6.20 for a pint of the particularly strong 10.5% Green Jack Baltic Trader at The Beehive, although the most expensive pint of a more typical beer was found to be £3.90. The average price was just above the £3 mark at £3.09, no doubt due to the rises in beer duty.

Ian Stamp, pubs officer for the Norwich CAMRA branch, said: “We all passionately believe that Norwich is the UK Capital of Real Ale – we proved it last year, when we found 215 different beers on sale in the city, not quite reaching Sheffield’s total, but claiming the title on the basis that Sheffield is well over twice the size of Norwich”.

“Since then Derby have also tried to claim the UK title, even though their pubs had fewer beers on sale than Norwich, and again, Derby is much bigger than Norwich (Derby’s population is 240,000 with Norwich’s at 227,000, however the Norwich survey only covered postcodes NR1-NR7 and so not including the large conurbations of Drayton, Taverham, and Hellesdon).

“So to keep Norwich on the map in the run up to CAMRA’s National AGM in April 2013, which is being held in the city, we had to prove we were the best – and have a bit of fun into the bargain! We got out to some pubs we don’t often go to so it was good to get out and about, meeting the landlords.”

Mr Stamp and other members of CAMRA made the Reindeer in Dereham Road their HQ on Saturday where the results were brought to, or called in, and then logged. There were a few nervous moments throughout the evening as updates were received from York but, as last orders was being called, the final tallies were exchanged and the Norwich team were the ones cheering.

Congratulations must go to the York CAMRA team for making it a fun day and it was a great effort by all the CAMRA members in both cities. What both surveys prove is that real ale, cider and perry is getting more popular and is helping many pubs continue to be viable in their communities.

This result further backs up the recent successful second City Of Ale festival held over 10 days across the city, and fits in with the Evening News’ “Love Your Local” campaign which promotes local people using their pubs, or risk losing them.

Also the new CAMRA book “101 Beer Days Out” stated that Norwich was the UK city of ale, with author Tim Hampson noting “Norwich is quite a city for beer and has some fine pubs”.

York’s beer census results were reported in The Press on 1st July – the article can be found here.

Other statistics:
- Total pubs surveyed: 148
- Total serving real ale: 125 (84.5%, last year 86%)
- Total pubs serving real cider or perry: 17
- Total ales on sale: 569 (plus 55 ciders and perries) [bottled beers not counted]
- Unique ales on sale: 254 (38 unique ciders and perries)
- Ales on sale in one pub only: 167 (last year 144)
- Prices: £1.89 - £6.20, average price £3.09 (avg £2.95 in 2011)
- Local Breweries: 19
- Average ABV: 4.2% (same as last year)