Friday, 26 June 2020

Local Pubs – their views on re-opening

[This press release was produced before the reopening date of July 4th was announced]

Whilst a date for the reopening of pubs continues to be debated, along with safety measures and financial support; CAMRA Norwich & District’s recent survey reveals the views of local publicans.

Finance and staff pay is clearly a big issue for pub owners and operators.  Just over half of respondents reported a deferral, reduction or cancellation of rent during this period, which is extremely positive and a proportion who reported no reductions included non-rent payers.

Over 80% have invested personal funds to support them through this period, with one in five reporting an increase in loans.   One in ten reported raising funds innovatively, for example using a crowdfunding scheme. 

The vast majority, nearly 90%, of respondents reported that ongoing Government support would be extremely important to their pub’s survival.

The survey also asked what measures would be most popular for pubs?  The most popular measure for ease of implementation would be a 1m (3ft) distance between tables, however other respondents reported this to be impossible or difficult to operate and over 60% reported this to have a likely large negative effect on turnover.

Only just over 15% claimed a 2m (6ft) distance would be easy to implement, with over 37% claiming this to be impossible and a similar response was given to proposed screens or partitions between tables.

A cover or minimum charge proved unpopular or impossible to operate and pre-booked tables or a seated table service also proved unpopular due to its likely effect on income.  Of precautions such as temperature check, bar screens or imposing time/drink limits, the screen option was most popular. 

Sadly over 74% reported that reasonable restrictions would likely have 50% or more of an impact on their turnover figures.

One mentioned, ‘We all need to ensure people have confidence in returning to pubs, so all publicans should act responsibly and show the public they are doing what they can to keep safe.’ This is a view shared by other publicans; along with the view that pubs need publicity of any measures, to raise consumer confidence.

Ian Stamp, Chair of Norwich & District CAMRA, offered this comment ‘Publicans are being realistic about measures for reopening, with many able to use or access outdoor areas to increase capacity whilst allowing distancing measures.

‘However, each pub is individual with different challenges, so it is difficult to find a shared view, however we hope these results have given better insight into the views of those at the sharp end of the re-opening debate.’

Positively, the majority of those who responded are offering take-out services, with over 62% offering takeout drinks and over 33% offering takeout food, with some offering deliveries too.

However, Ian Stamp explained this may be misleading as those offering a service currently are also more likely to have responded, though notes many pubs locally have made this positive move.

Ian mentioned it is encouraging that even more wish to operate take-out food services in the future, though fewer anticipate continuing with their beer take-out service after re-opening.

Just under half of pub respondents are using the Brew2You service, though this figure also included those not offering a take-out service.

Customers can receive updated information on take-out options and individual pub re-opening news at which is updated by thousands of CAMRA volunteers and focuses on real ale pubs.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Norfolk Nips is CAMRA magazine of the year 2020

Norwich & District CAMRA are delighted to announce that Norfolk Nips, the branch magazine of the Norfolk branches of CAMRA, has been named Magazine of the Year in the annual national CAMRA magazine awards. It also came second in the Most Improved category, a real credit to the changes we've made since the start of last year.

Congratulations to the Editor, Lucy Cousins, who took over just over a year ago, said: "Since joining as editor, my aim has been to make Norfolk Nips engaging and relevant to all pub goers in Norfolk (and beyond) with great visual appeal and excellent written content.

"These awards are fantastic recognition of how far we've come and a perfect springboard to make Norfolk Nips even better!

"So, here's a big Thank You to all our regular contributors, advertisers and everyone else who has helped with Norfolk Nips over the past year!"

The awards are open to all 200+ CAMRA branches in the UK, with entries judged by a panel, and the winners usually announced at the Members Weekend & AGM in early April. Even though there's no awards event this year, we're still hoping to celebrate this fantastic win as soon as the pubs reopen!

Norfolk Nips is created by hard-working CAMRA volunteers, published by Shilling Lane Media, and funded through advertising from pubs, breweries and other local businesses. Around 12,000 copies are distributed to pubs across Norfolk four times a year by volunteers, but can also be downloaded from our website, or read online at

Current and previous issues of Norfolk Nips can be found here.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Champion Bottled Beer of Norfolk 2020

Terra Firma, a strong Barley Wine brewed by the Snetterton based Elmtree Brewery, has been named the Champion Bottled Beer Of Norfolk 2020 by the local branches of The Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA). 

The 7.8% beer, described by the judges as ‘Rich, well balanced and complex with a dark fruit base’ was given the accolade after a yearlong series of tastings by members of the local Taste Panel.

Panel chair Alan Edwards explained, “Real ale in a bottle is a way to explore the many traditional beers in the comfort of your own home.  The purpose of the competition is to promote awareness of this option and enable drinkers to seek out the quality beers available.”

Many of Norfolk’s 46 breweries produce Real Ale In A Bottle (RAIB).  All were invited to enter the competition.  Eleven breweries submitted 49 beers for judging by members of the Campaign.

Alan went on to add “The judges were very impressed by the quality and variety of the beers submitted.  We have some excellent breweries in the county and it is certainly worthwhile seeking out their beers.  With a plethora of styles and tastes there is a beer out there to suit everyone’s palate.”

The runner up was Lignum Vitae, a strong IPA type bitter brewed by the Grain Brewery from Alburgh.  This beer was described as ‘Solidly hoppy with a definite marmalade bias’.

Elmtree also claimed third place with their porter, Winter Solstice, brewed with added vanilla and cinnamon.

All the award winners:

Overall Champions
1st Terra Firma, Elmtree Brewery, Snetterton; Runner up Lignum Vitae, Grain Brewery, Alburgh; 3rd Winter Solstice, Elmtree Brewery

Mild, Brown Ale, Old Ale
1st Christmas Crack, Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham; Runner up Chocolate Nutter, Why Not Brewery, Thorpe St Andrew

1st Branch Line Bitter, Humpty Dumpty Brewery; Runner up Red Panther, Panther Brewery

Strong Bitter
1st Lignum Vitae, Grain Brewery; Runner up Cheltenham Flyer, Humpty Dumpty Brewery

Golden Ale
1st Tom Cat, Fat Cat Brewery, Norwich; Runner up American Pale Ale, Panther Brewery

Barley Wine
1st Terra Firma, Elmtree Brewery

1st Coffee Cream Stout, Fat Cat Brewery

1st Humpty Dumpty Porter, Humpty Dumpty Brewery; Runner up Prasto's Porter, Boudicca Brewery, West Barsham

1st Winter Solstice, Elmtree Brewery; Runner up Weizen, Grain Brewery

1st Empire Slate, Grain Brewery

Monday, 16 September 2019

CAMRA Norwich Beer Festival 2019

Norwich  Norfolk CAMRA’s 42nd Norwich Beer Festival opens on Monday 21st October and runs through to Saturday 26th October 2019.
So, what are the top things to know about the festival?
The festival takes place in St Andrew’s Hall in the heart of Norwich, with beers of every shade and style.
In the adjoining Blackfriars Hall are local beers and hot food and in the downstairs Marquee are world beers, including Belgium fruit and Trappist beers along side alcohol-free, vegan, KeyKeg and gluten-free beers and lager.
There is a dedicated cider and perry bar, graded from sweet to the very dry.
There’s hot food and live music from local bands performing in St Andrew’s Hall, with music-free sessions Tuesday evening and Wednesday lunchtime.
The free programme gives a complete beer listing and details of tutored tastings, plus a live beer list is updated throughout the festival from the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA website – where you can even vote for your favourites (last year’s overall winner was People's Brewery, Thurlton Gold).
The festival kicks off on Monday 21st with a CAMRA Members preview at 4.30pm, then is open to everyone from 5.30pm until 11pm. Lunchtime sessions start at 11.30pm and evening sessions continue to run from 5.30pm until 11pm.
Saturday is fun day, with the festival open all day – you can walk straight in between from 11.30am until 9.30pm and pay on the door (or buy advance tickets if coming in a group – optional space-themed fancy dress!).
Advance tickets are only available until 28th September and entrance is free to CAMRA members (those joining during the festival are promised some free beer!).
On entrance to the Halls, visitors may purchase a festival glass and beer cards (the bars are cash-free), and remaining beer card tokens may be returned or donated to our chosen charity, Nansa – empowering people with disabilities in Norwich and Norfolk.
So, what’s new in 2019? The Curiosity bar, featuring special beers, entirely new to the festival, is returning for its 2nd year and is doubling in size, now with over 80 exciting cask beers! There will also be a traditional wooden cask section, fondly known as ‘Woody Bay’.
The World Beer Bar will feature beer sommelier selected USA beers and beers aged in Tequila! There is also an increase in the number of gluten-free and vegan cask beers this year (displayed on the beer labels).
Visitors this year are encouraged to wear fancy dress and join in with our ‘Where’s Wally Wednesdays’, ‘It’s all about Hats, Thursdays’, ‘Fraulein Fridays’ and this year’s Saturday theme, as it’s the 42nd year, is ‘Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and all things space’.
Craig Harmer, Beer Festival Organiser, has this advice: "Advance tickets are only available until 28th September, so be quick. Entry is never more than five pounds or one pound most lunchtimes!
"Students enter for free Tuesdays and Wednesdays and CAMRA members’ entrance is free, or join and get free beer at the festival! We offer something for everyone, from quiet evenings to our party music nights and Saturday fun day.
"With 400-500 drinks to try, very few people leave Norwich Beer Festival without having discovered a new favourite!"
The festival is attended every year by tens of thousands and each year numbers grow. Some people have commented that the festival is so successful it attracts long queues. To this Martin Ward, committee member, replied: "Gone are the days of waiting for a long time in a queue. We now have a fast-track queue system and everyone is surprised how quickly they enter the Halls and are able to purchase their glass and tokens, even on the busier Friday and Thursday."
Discover more about the history of Norwich Beer Festival in a book on sale at the festival to commemorate the first 40 years, titled ‘A Hazy History of the Beer Festival’.
The programme and festival souvenir glass this year features a magnificent red dragon perched on top of Norwich Castle, designed by Hazel Thacker. The competition to design the logo for the 2020 beer festival opens immediately after this year’s festival ends.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

The Leopard, Norwich, is Branch Pub of the Year 2019

Congratulations to Bob Utting, Michelle Elden and their team on winning the overall Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch Pub of the Year for 2019!

The Leopard is a fantastic community pub, which has been totally transformed since Bob bought it from Bateman's back in 2014.

A complete interior and exterior renovation changed a somewhat run-down back-street boozer into a light and bright, friendly pub, with something for everyone - a great range of real ales and ciders, of course, mostly from local breweries, but also quality keg beers, including a changing craft keg beer run through an old Watney's font! The Leopard is also our City Pub of the Year.

The award will be presented at the pub on Friday April 12th at around 8pm - please join us to celebrate!

Branch Rural Pub of the Year 2019 goes to the Green Dragon at Wymondham.

The Green Dragon has regained its crown as Rural Pub of the Year. An ancient inn, dating back to the 14th century, in the shadow of Wymondham's famous Abbey, the pub features a great range of five mostly local real ales, as well as excellent food and two fantastic beer festivals every year, in May and August, offering over 60 different beers.

The White Lion, Norwich, is Branch Cider Pub of the Year 2019.

A many-times winner of this accolade, the White Lion continues to be the best cider and perry pub in the city, although, partly thanks to others following the trail it has blazed over the past seven years, it won't be able to rest on its laurels! Congratulations to Russell Corke for the win - new landlord Oscar Gerdes now takes the pub into the next round.

First ever Branch Club of the Year 2019 won by the Bob Carter Leisure Centre, Drayton.

In a close-run competition, judged by our Clubs Officer and a small judging panel, the Bob Carter Centre came out as the very first Branch Club of the Year. The club, a short walk from the centre of Drayton, allows entry to card-carrying CAMRA members, and has up to six excellent local ales available. Congratulations to the management on their win!

Congratulations to the runners-up in all categories, who in every case were only fractions of a point away from the winner!

Second place in the overall Branch Pub of the Year, and City Pub of the Year, was taken by a previous winner, the Kings Head, in Magdalen St, Norwich. With a rapidly changing list of up to a dozen real ales, many local but also from selected breweries around the country, the Kings Head is no stranger to real ale lovers in the area!

The Norfolk Lurcher, formerly the Ugly Bug Inn, at Colton, and last year's winner, was the runner up in the Rural Pub of the Year, with a selection of excellent-value local real ales, and great food.

The Cider Pub of the Year runner-up was the Vine, where Aey stocks a good range of real ciders alongside three or four real ales.

And last but not least, the runner-up in the Club of the Year is the Haig Club, which is a focal point of Mundesley’s social scene, attracting members of all ages who can enjoy live bands, darts, snooker, sea views and, of course, excellent ales!

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Norfolk’s Top Cask Beers announced

Norfolk’s cask beers have come under careful scrutiny by the Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA’s tasting panel whilst they battle it out to be awarded the 2019 top cask beer.

82 Norfolk Beers were sampled by the panel and judged in categories with overall winners found across all categories and winners first announced at the Branch Annual General Meeting on 21 March.

The overall Gold winner has now been revealed as Chalk Hill’s ‘Black Anna’ – named after the nickname given to Antoinette Hannent – a Norwich jazz singer of Italian descent and licensee of The Jolly Butchers 1947-1976, following her husband’s death in 1947.

Anna was particularly well-loved for her consideration to the gay community, in the days when the law was stacked against them and the pub became a magnet for visiting celebrities and jazz fans keen to hear Black Anna’s unique jazz voice.

The winning Black Anna has a complex, booming sweet-roasty character with echoes of caramel, coffee and chestnut, with a smooth finish.

Overall Silver winner went to St Andrew’s Brewhouse’s Tombland Porter with a rich chocolate and coconut bouquet and flavours of chocolate, malt and dried fruit, warming to a sweet creamy finish.

Overall Bronze is awarded to Grain’s Lignum Vitae, solidly orangey and hoppy with imposing oily character and a definite marmalade with an enlivening bittersweet finish. 2019 is the eleventh year in a row Grain Brewery have won an award.

Chalk Hill Brewery have chalked up their first overall win!  First-time wins also went to St Andrews Brewhouse and Yetmans.

Taste Panel Chair, Alan Edwards, said: ‘Chalk Hill Black Anna is a worthy winner, combining a quality stout with a commemoration of a notable Norwich character. All the winning beers are a testimony to the quality of real ales that can be produced and served in Norfolk. The nine award winning breweries have brewed beers that have impressed the judges with their variety and balance of flavours.’

‘Though we have a healthy number of breweries in Norfolk, it is not always easy to try their beers. Many are micro brewers with their beers limited to a small number of outlets around the brewery. Despite this, the panel endeavours to taste as many beers as possible. We are always looking for CAMRA members to join the panel and add a new dimension to their beer drinking.’

To apply to be a member of the Tasting Panel you must be impartial and an existing CAMRA member.  To apply please contact Alan Edwards, Chair of the Panel, or the Branch Chair, Ian Stamp – contact details can be found on the branch website.  Training will be given to new members.

Alan is no stranger to Norfolk beer, being involved in the first ever Norwich Beer Festival in 1977 and having stood as Norwich Beer Festival Organiser for 16 years until the 25th festival in 2002 and has been on the organising committee every year from those early days to this year’s Great British Beer Festival Winter and Norwich Beer Festival, which will be celebrating its 42nd year in 2019.

Alan added: ‘We will continue to search out beers from all the Norfolk breweries, currently an impressive 43, giving each the opportunity to win local CAMRA awards and promote their amazing breweries.’

Category winners are:

GOLD – Yetmans, Bayfield - Red - A plummy malt carapace with balanced hop and caramel, full bodied and long lasting, with growing bittersweet
SILVER - Humpty Dumpty, Reedham - Little Sharpie

GOLD – Grain, Alburgh - Redwood - A rich fruity aroma introduces a smooth full flavoured bitter with malty red fruit and caramel base defined by hoppy bitter and lingering bitter finish

GOLD – Grain, Alburgh - Lignum Vitae
SILVER - Fat Cat, Norwich - Marmalade Cat

GOLD – Grain, Alburgh - Threeonesix – with strong citrus notes throughout of angerine, lemon and lime, with a solid hoppy base and well-balanced bitter finish.

GOLD – Wolf, Besthorpe - Lavender Honey - plummy malt with a balanced hop and caramel undercoat, full bodied and long lasting with growing bittersweet notes.

GOLD - Chalk Hill, Norwich - Black Anna
SLVER - S&P, Horsford - Darkest Hour

GOLD - St Andrew’s Brewhouse, Norwich - Tombland Porter

GOLD – Lacons, Great Yarmouth - Old Nogg – rich and imposing with prunes, molasses, liquorice, and fruitcake. Complex and long lasting with a strong malty end.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Norfolk’s 2019 Best Bottled Brew!

Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA’s tasting panel have drank and deliberated over 53 Norfolk beers to find the best bottled brew of 2019.

Beers were judged in categories with overall winners found across all categories. 

The overall Gold winner has now been unveiled as Elmtree Brewery’s Nightlight Mild – a ruby-coloured sweet, spicy brew with hints of crème brule, rich and complex with a soft liquorice aftertaste. 

Overall Silver winner went to Elmtree’s Golden Pale Ale – a full bodied ale with lime fruit depth and sweet malty character with malt aromas and short sweetening finish.

Overall Bronze is awarded to Lacons’ Audit Ale – also the overall winner of the CAMRA Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2019.  Honey coloured, with lemon aromas, a rich bittersweet flavour with malty marmalade base, with a satisfying caramel and spicy finish.

The 2019 competition covered beers from 12 Norfolk Breweries with Elmtree Brewery winning Gold in 6 out of 10 categories.  New winners in the bottled competition are All Day and Peoples Breweries. 

Taste Panel Chair, Alan Edwards, said: “Real Ale in a Bottle (RAIB) is the next best thing to tasting cask ale in a pub. Norfolk breweries have made great strides in quality over the last few years. The judges were impressed by the depth and variety of flavours found in the beers.

“Competition was intense in all categories with the scoring being close throughout. It is also pleasing that the winning breweries are spread throughout Norfolk.  Many of the beers are imaginatively named with stories behind them. We look forward to the next round of tastings!”

Alan added: “There are now more ales brewed and bottled specifically for Christmas. We are now considering adding a ‘Christmas Ale’ category for 2020.”

Alan is no stranger to Norfolk beer, being involved in the first ever Norwich Beer Festival in 1977 and having stood as Norwich Beer Festival Organiser for 16 years until the 25th festival in 2002 and has been on the organising committee every year from those early days to this year’s Great British Beer Festival Winter and Norwich Beer Festival, which will be celebrating its 42nd year in 2019.

Category winners:

GOLD - Elmtree Brewery - Nightlight Mild
SILVER - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Christmas Crack

GOLD - Elmtree Brewery - Scary Tree
SILVER - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Broadland Sunrise
BRONZE - Two Rivers Brewery - Denver Diamond

GOLD - Elmtree Brewery - Gambrinosity
SILVER - Poppyland Brewery - East Beach IPA
BRONZE - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Big Sharpie

GOLD - Elmtree Brewery - Golden Pale Ale
SILVER - Peoples Brewery - Cascade Bitter
BRONZE - All Day Brewery - Norfolk Green Hop, Tipsy Vegan

GOLD - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Lemon and Ginger
SILVER - Why Not Brewery - Norfolk Honey Ale
BRONZE - All Day Brewery - Raspberry Tart

GOLD - Elm Tree Brewery - Dark Horse Stout

GOLD - Poppyland Brewery - Tragic Empress Imperial Porter
SILVER - Panther Brewery - Black Panther
BRONZE - Humpty Dumpty - Brewery Porter

GOLD - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Maid in Norfolk

GOLD - Lacons Brewery - Audit Ale