Tale of two cities: Dawn Leeder (centre) pictured in 2017 with her fellow Norwich City of Ale founder, Phil Cutter, and Sheffield Beer Week organiser, Jules Gray
Brewing and beer have been an integral part of British culture for centuries, if not millennia, but never before have the opportunities around beer tourism been so great. The first Beer Cities’ Forum aims to tap into these opportunities.
The event takes place on October 8 and 9 in Norwich. There will be keynote addresses by heads of tourism and pub and beer associations; presentations by beer city organisers, and a discussion session with members of the British Guild of Beer Writers. The aim is to find a way of working together to promote Britain’s ‘Beer Tourism’.
Dawn Leeder, a beer technologist and founder of Norwich City of Ale and British Beer Cities, said: “An enormous effort has been put into creating individual beer weeks. Up until now, Beer City organisers have been working in a geographically isolated way, creating exciting activity for their own localities. There are now around 15 city-wide beer festivals across the country and we know that more are being planned.
“They do a great job of encouraging people into pubs and of raising interest in brewing, beer ingredients, and the multitude of beer styles and flavours. Folk are sitting up and taking notice of what’s on offer right on their doorstep, and visitors are arriving from a distance to see what’s what.
“The British Beer Cities initiative will pull together the regional events and venues to create a bigger movement. We aim not only to establish Britain as an international beer destination, but to create the world’s top ‘Beer City Nation’.”
The one-and-a-half day forum starts with an evening reception and talks on the Monday, and a full day of presentations and discussions on the Tuesday. It will be valuable for beer week organisers, tourism alliances, breweries and pub companies.
Issues covered will include: organisational structure; trade engagement; eliciting the support of BIDs; sponsorship and funding; generating activity and content; marketing and audience-building. There will be a
series of case studies revealing what works well and what areas could be improved — and opportunities to learn from each other’s experiences.
British Beer Cities co-organiser, Frances Brace (pictured right), said: “Anyone keen to keep life in the British high street should have an interest in this campaign. Pubs and breweries help draw people into towns and cities. They also pay full rates and taxes, thus supporting the country’s infrastructure in a way that so many international companies (including some restaurant and coffee chains) fail to do.
“Organisations that have signed up to the forum want to find a way of joining forces to make the greatest impact. By working together, we can get more people adventuring round the country — and can hugely increase the benefit to the beer, pub, hotel, transport and tourism industries. And to the high street!”
Instigated by Norwich City of Ale and Sheffield Beer City organisers, the forum is funded by a grant from the Worshipful Company of Brewers’ Research and Education Fund (BREF).
Jules Gray, founder of Sheffield Beer Week and British Beer Cities co-organiser, said: “BREF’s support recognises the potential importance of a joint campaign. The various beer weeks are all different, and we want to keep those regional variations. But there’s so much we can gain from sharing experiences. We will come away from the forum with renewed energy and determination to increase our contribution to regional economies.”
The beer cities of Norwich and Sheffield will be joined by Birmingham, Brighton, Cheltenham and Gloucester, Oxford, Stockport and York to present their experiences at the forum.
Dawn said: “It is very fitting that this event should be taking place in the first City of Ale. Norwich led the way in creating a city-wide beer festival. All the research shows that it generates business not just during the beer week itself, but throughout the year. We’re very proud that other cities have watched the model and followed suit. Now together we can boost Britain’s beer tourism even further!”
Booking for places on the forum is open until September 24 For more information, visit