Ipswich Ale Trail featuring 17 town pubs will replace CAMRA beer festival this year

Nigel Smith helping to set up the 2007 Ipswich Beer Festival at the Corn Exchange.

Nigel Smith helping to set up the 2007 Ipswich Beer Festival at the Corn Exchange.

The organiser of Ipswich’s first ale trail has said he hopes the event will encourage more people to get out and support the pubs that are trading in the town.

Ipswich Ale Trail

Ipswich Ale Trail - Credit: Archant

The trail will stand in the place of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Ipswich Beer Festival, which has been running annually in the town for 33 years, after last year’s wash out at Portman Road caused the Ipswich & East Suffolk branch to lose money.

Nigel Smith, beer festival and ale trail organiser, said it was too risky to hold another outdoor festival this year, so the branch members decided to instead put on an event that would get people visiting the town’s pubs.

“We got into problems with the festival last year, mostly because we weren’t involved in the maritime festival anymore and we were looking for an alternative venue,” Mr Smith added. “We were very happy with the football club but we lost quite a bit of money down there as the weather was terrible.

“At the end of the day we are not looking to make money, we are just looking to cover the costs and that’s difficult to do at the moment. So we decided we would give it a break this year and try something different.”

Kicking off on National Beer Day – June 15 – drinkers will have 20 days to visit as many of the 17 participating pubs involved in the ale trail, which vary from well-established pubs such the Fat Cat, to a newly opened ‘micropub’ called the East Town Bottle Shop and Tap Room.

Mr Smith, who has been involved in organising the CAMRA beer festival in Ipswich for more than 25 years, said: “We often talk about the demise of a local pub and too often comment on another pub closing, but this is a chance to celebrate some of the pubs that we do have in the town.

Most Read

“Pubs do have it hard and will continue to have it hard, but this is a chance to get out and support our local pubs, and there’s quite a nice mixture of them on the trail.”

When visiting each pub and buying a drink (beer, cider or perry), participants must present their passport, which can be picked up from any of the pubs on the trail list, and get a stamp put in the relevant square.

Prizes and badges are available for people who go to nine or all 17 pubs on the trail.

Mr Smith said if the ale trail is a success he would be looking to put on a similar event next year.

“It’s something we can build on certainly and if other pubs would like to be involved in another version at a future date then get in touch, it’s something I would like to put in the calender again next year,” he added.

“We can make it a celebration of what Ipswich has got, we have got an interesting collection of bars in the town, modern and older.

“If people are talking about pubs then it’s been a success. It’s an experimental first event and I just want people to get out there, do it, and tell me what they think.”

Mr Smith is also calling for anyone who may have a suitable venue for another beer festival in Ipswich to contact him at: nigelsmithszoo@btinternet.com