BEER lovers are rejoicing as the Harwich Ale Trail returns for another year of fantastic brews and great food.

Plans are well under way for the second trail, which looks set to become an annual feature in the Harwich calendar.

The first event, held in December last year, was organised as a last-minute replacement for the cancelled Harwich and Dovercourt Winter Ale Festival.

Nine venues took part with a single co-ordinated ale and cider list available to drinkers.

This year’s venues include the sailing barge Victor, The Globe Inn, The British Flag, The Hanover Inn, The New Bell Inn, The Alma, Shakers Bar, Cafe on the Pier, Swan House Gallery, The Crown Post, Harwich Town Sailing Club and Harwich Town Brewing Company.

Each venue on the trail is no more than a minute’s walk from the next.

Many of the pubs and bars are planning live music, including hearty shanties to celebrate the town’s ties to the sea.

Trail co-ordinator Paul Mellor (right) said: “The response was overwhelming, from the publicans, the owners of other venues, and especially the public.”

An estimated 700 people enjoyed the event in December, consuming 3,000 pints of cask ale and 500 pints of cider and perry.

As the Tendring branch for the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has confirmed the winter ale festival will return in November, the ale trail will be held from April 28 to May 2 over the bank holiday weekend.

Organisers are hoping the date will become a permanent annual fixture.

Jeff Luesley, chairman of Tendring Camra, added: “I am extremely pleased that this is being repeated again this year.

“I encourage Camra members and others to get along and enjoy the trail.”