About the ale trail

How it began

The original idea for an Ale Trail came around when the 2015 CAMRA Harwich & Dovercourt Winter Ale Festival was cancelled at short notice. The suggestion back then was whether the publicans could run a festival between themselves? Harwich is blessed with having a good number of pubs in close proximity so this idea took traction and the first ale trail started on 3rd December 2015.

The following Spring, it was clear that CAMRA had secured a different venue for their winter ale festival so a decision was taken to hold the Ale Trail 2016 over the May Day bank holiday weekend and to repeat annually. Of course we suffered an enforced 2 year break over 2020/2021 so the 2022 Ale Trail is a welcome return to our normal programming!

So how does it work?

Harwich Ale Trail is firstly a community event, with the publicans (and other venue owners) putting on a distributed beer and cider festival for everyone*. There’s one beer/cider list and a range of venues to try with no entry fee or ticketing. This year, all bar one of the venues, are within the narrow cobbled streets and lanes of the ancient Historic Harwich, meaning each place is only a minute or two from the next! This includes the pubs that ordinarily sell cask ale and real cider. For 2022 a guest venue has joined the event and this, the United Services private members club, is throwing its doors open. It can be found half way between Dovercourt and Harwich Town stations on the Main Road (see map).

So, choose a venue to start, whether it’s one close to Harwich Town Station or perhaps nearer Harwich Quay, then try and ale or cider whilst perusing the beer list then stay for a second or walk on … repeat as necessary. The event runs for 5 days, until the Bank Holiday Monday, so feel free to return – apparently there’s no rail engineering works this weekend and none of the local roads are being dug up (allegedly).

NB The Harwich Ale Trail is not a CAMRA organised event but many CAMRA members participate to help the Ale Trail run smoothly!

*Usual licensing laws apply! Only over 18s can purchase or consume alcohol, and venues can refuse admission or service.

Planning to visit Harwich at any other time of the year? Cask ale and real cider can usually be found in Ale Trail venues Stingray, New Bell, Hanover, Globe and Alma all year around.