Number of real ale drinkers in region soars

THE number of real ale drinkers in East Anglia has almost doubled in the past two years, new research has revealed.

The region has seen the second biggest increase in people trying the tipple in the country, figures released by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) show.

On the opening day of the Great British Beer Festival in London yesterday, CAMRA revealed the number of drinkers having tried real ale in the region had leapt from 42% to 70% in the past two years.

Roger Waters, landlord of The Dove pub in Bury St Edmunds, said he did not stock lager at all.

“Real ale is a great British tradition,” he said. “There are so many varieties of taste. Ladies love it as well because they can really taste the flavour.”

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Nationally, there are more breweries in operation than at any time since the Second World War.

Steve Magnall, brewing and distribution director at the Greene King brewery in Bury St Edmunds, said people in Suffolk were increasingly aware of the traceability and quality of ingredients.

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“It is great news, but maybe not such a surprise, that East Anglia is shown by the survey to be one of the top two regions for real ale,” he said.

“Not only does the region grow what is probably the best malting barley in the world, but it is also home to Greene King and Adnams as well as a number of well-respected smaller brewers.”

West Suffolk CAMRA chairman Kevin Waterson said the number of microbreweries, especially in Suffolk, could be behind the dramatic rise in hand pumps in pubs.

“There is quite a concentration of microbreweries in Suffolk producing a really quality product,” he said. “Beer is being kept properly and it is much better than the mass-produced chemical stuff.”

David Marjoram, who is involved with a new pub in Bury St Edmunds called The Beerhouse, stocking traditional cask ales, said younger drinkers and women were getting a taste for locally-produced ales. “The image of real ale being something for middle-aged men is changing,” he said. “Just because it’s an old-fashioned product doesn’t mean people can’t enjoy it in a clean, welcoming place.”

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