There are 32 breweries in the region producing over 80 real ales between them at any one time. Although Suffolk has 11 of these breweries it is still a fine achievement for the county to be home to five of the six finalists.
Nethergate was founded in 1986 and has one tied house (The Cambridge Blue) and around 220 free trade accounts. It uses entirely traditional brewing methods and no additives, unless you count the coriander (actually a traditional ingredient of beer) in its Umbel and Umbel Magna ales. Nethergate is now distributed nationally through a network of reputable beer agencies.
The excellence of Nethergate's achievement can be judged against the fact that four out of the last six national Champion Beers of Britain have come from East Anglia. These are judged by a similar procedure at the Great British Beer Festival at the beginning of August, when the panel included cricketer Devon Malcolm and T.V.'s renowned beerhunter, Michael Jackson. In case you missed it, the Champion Beer of Britain 1996 is Woodforde's Wherry, which came top of the Ordinary Bitter category, and then beat the other category winners to be Champion
Other category winners were: Tomlinson Hermitage (Mild), Butterknowle Banner (Best Bitter), Cheriton Diggers Gold (Strong Bitter), Marston's Oyster Stout (Bottle-Conditioned), Harviestoun Schiehallion (Speciality Beer). Other categories (Porter, Stout, Old Ale etc.) will be judged at a separate Winter Ale Festival.