A Norfolk barley farm plans to establish a chain of franchised real ale stores across the country to cater for the growing demand for local British beers and ale.

Branthill Farm, near Wells-next-the-Sea, opened its own shop three years ago selling beers from microbreweries, including some made with malt from barley grown on the farm. It now plans to officially open the first of its Real Ale franchise stores next week in Suffolk, at Priory Farm, Wrentham.

The move comes just months after The Grocer revealed that ale is making a comeback after years of decline. TNS Worldpanel figures for the year to 22 April, 2007, showed the category grew 8.4% to £364m compared with a 0.2% fall the year before.

In May, Waitrose boasted that sales of local beer had risen 100% year-on-year and said it would be increasing its range of local ales and lagers. Thresher announced this summer it planned to start stocking local beers in all 1,800 branches.Expansion plans for the Real Ale chain are yet to be mapped out, but Kent, Yorkshire and Essex have been identified as barley-growing regions where the format could work.

"It's just like any other franchise," said Branthill Farm owner Teddy Maufe. "The franchisee pays a fee and then a percentage of the profits. The only difference is that each shop won't be a clone, because they will be selling beers that are local to them. The whole point is to get local micros using barley from the farms."

The next shop could appear later in the autumn - but potential franchisees won't be considered unless they are barley farmers.

"We want a few well-chosen locations rather than shops that are in the wrong place and can't get the support of local microbreweries, " Maufe said.

The Priory Farm shop will stock existing beers from local microbreweries including Iceni, Nethergate, and Maldons, in addition to bottled Broadside, Best and Explorer ales from regional brewer Adnams.