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18th May 2023

Ales of Two Cities

Leuven and Norwich, unite proud brewing traditions and flourishing new friendships, with a range of new Anglo-Belgian beers at two beer festivals this May.

A range of beers resulting from a collaborative beer project between brewers from Norwich in the United Kingdom and Leuven in Flanders, Belgium is due to be showcased shortly in each of the cities, at two beer festivals, held on consecutive weekends. Brewers from both Norwich and Leuven have been working together, for several months, to create four special beers that truly synergise their knowledge, innovation and skills in a fusion of their respective talents.  The beers will first be presented this weekend in Leuven at the Leuven Innovation Beer festival (21-22 May), which celebrates the best of world beer with knowledge and creativity in its production as its focus. Several days later the beers will be showcased in the launch event of the Norwich City of Ale festival and subsequently at many of 59 pubs that make up the month-long city festival (25 May- 25 June 2023).

Since first meeting in Leuven in December 2022 to realise their collaborative vision, eight brewers, (four from the Norwich area and four from Leuven), have been forging friendships, sharing knowledge and experience, and with the help of their passion and energy for brewing, have created new beers using local ingredients from both sides of the Channel. The two cities share a historical bond dating back to the 14th century when refugee weavers from Flanders and the Low Countries fled to Norfolk due to religious persecution for their Protestant beliefs. Norwich provided sanctuary for many of these refugees who were also known as “Strangers” – inspiring the name of Norwich’s Strangers Hall – where refugee “strangers” are known to have lodged at.

The brewers hailing from Leuven are Hof ten Dormaal, Braxatorium Parcensis, De Coureur and Adept. Participating breweries from in and around Norwich are Grain Brewery, Poppyland Brewery & Distillery, Tindall Brewery and Moon Gazer Ales.

The original idea for the “twinning” of the cities through beer was devised by acclaimed beer writer Roger Protz, who will be hosting a special tutored tasting event for the beers, in the Strangers Hall, Norwich on 26 May 2023. The Norwich City of Ale festival will also offer a series of ale-trails to participating pubs, including a dedicated Flemish Trail. Visitors to these pubs will be able to enter a competition, to win “the ultimate Belgian Beer Experience”: a trip to Leuven, with not only a chance to enjoy a plethora of amazing Belgian beer, but also to visit the breweries who’ve taken part in this initiative, and the opportunity to brew beer at the De Coureur Brewery.

The collaborative beers created are:

Dark Hare (Donkere Haas) (ABV 4.5%) was created by Moon Gazer Ales and the Adept brewery, whose aim was to take a very old Belgian style beer and fuse it with a more traditional British style beer. The collaboration was technically challenging, but nevertheless rewarding for their brewers David Holliday and Dimitri Staelens.

Coffee Pale (ABV 4.2%) is a fruity beer created by Michael Green from Tindall Ales Brewery and Jef Janssens from Hof ten Dormaal , two young brewers working in their family breweries. Both breweries work with locally sourced products and have a strong focus on sustainability. The collaboration was a chance for both to share tips, tricks, and some brewing secrets.

Strangers No More (ABV4.8) is a Belgian-style dark beer created as part of a collaboration from Grain Brewery’s Phil Halls in Norwich and Braxatorium Parcensis’ Joris Brams located in Leuven. It is dark beer using a Belgian abbey yeast, as well as some Challenger and Goldings hops. The beer has been brewed in part with raw wheat and rye grown at the Park Abbey, a former 12th-century heritage Norbertine Abbey in the outskirts of Leuven where Braxatorium Parcensis is located.

Strangers WitBier (ABV 5.5) is a Belgian Witbier and is a creation from Poppyland Brewery and Distillery in Norwich fronted by David Cornell and Bart Delvaux from the De Coureur brewery. The result is a bit darker than the “regular” Witbier, tasting similar to a English Pale Ale combined with some “secret” spices.

Leuven, just east of Brussels, has a history of brewing and today is still home to a number of craft breweries, large and small, each with a story to tell. It is also a thriving centre of knowledge and innovation and is home to the Low Countries’ oldest University, KU Leuven. Today, amongst its many faculties, the university investigates new brewing processes and breweries test innovative techniques and flavours as part of its brewing and malting science course taught there.


17 May 2023

Notes to Editors:

Norwich City of Ale 2023: City of Ale | Norwich Ale Festival

Tutored beer collaboration 26 May 2023 : Beer with Strangers, a City of Ale event – Norfolk Museums

Leuven Innovation Beer Festival  :Leuven Innovation Beer Festival

Park Abbey Leuven  : Park Abbey Leuven

For more information about visiting Leuven  see  Breweries | Visit Leuven


This Flemish government agency is the official tourist organisation for Flanders.  The organisation strives for the sustainable development and promotion of tourism to and within Flanders, with a view to boosting the economic return, employment, and the well-being of its inhabitants.

For more information please contact:


Anita Rampall- Press Manager UK and Ireland

+44 (0)20 7299 3594