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:

BITTER
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

BEST BITTER
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

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

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

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

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

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

BARLEY WINE/STRONG OLD ALE
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:

MILD, BROWN ALE, OLD ALE
GOLD - Elmtree Brewery - Nightlight Mild
SILVER - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Christmas Crack

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

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

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

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

STOUT
GOLD - Elm Tree Brewery - Dark Horse Stout

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

UNIQUE
GOLD - Humpty Dumpty Brewery - Maid in Norfolk

BARLEY WINE
GOLD - Lacons Brewery - Audit Ale

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Lacon’s Audit Ale has been crowned Champion Winter Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival Winter in Norwich


After over a year of local tasting panels and regional heats leading up to the finals, CAMRA has announced that Lacons Audit Ale is the winner of the Champion Winter Winter Beer of Britain competition at The Halls, Norwich, on Tuesday 19th February 2019.

The 8% barley wine was crowned champion at the winter festival, organised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) in association with its Norwich & Norfolk Branch.

The festival continues to run until Saturday 23rd February, where ales from the competition finalists are available to sample, together with many other beers of every season, shade and style including golden beers, ciders and world beers.

Festival Organiser Martin Ward commented: " The CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain is one of the most prestigious beer competitions in the world. It is the ultimate honour for UK brewers and has helped put many into the national spotlight.  Lacons’ Audit Ale is a very worthy winner of one of CAMRA's highest accolades."

The barley wine was crowned the Winter Champion over a host of other finalists in four different beer categories (barley wine & strong old ales, old ales & strong milds, porters and stouts), including beers from both small microbrewers and large regional brewers.

This year's overall runner up went to Calverley’s Porter, while Old Engine Oil by Harviestoun took home the Bronze award.

The beers have already won many local and regional heats in order to be presented for the national award, so judges are able to ensure a consistent standard of quality in all of the beers in the competition.

Nick Boley, CAMRA's National Director responsible for the competition, commented on the winning ale, Lacons Audit Ale: "We were very impressed with the standard and quality this year.  The champion, Audit Ale, is a very worthy winner and was described by judges as incredibly well-rounded, with not a harsh bone in its body and the perfect balance of flavour."

Following over a year of local tasting panels and regional heats, Audit Ale impressed judges for its enticing aroma of marmalade and peach. It was described as “packed with berry fruits and spices”.

Only available on limited release, Audit Ale was named after a number of Cambridge and Oxford University colleges celebrated the end of their annual audits with the special brew. By popular demand, it was exported to the USA in champagne-style bottles from 1937.

Ian Stamp, Chairman of Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA, added: "This is a big year for us, being the third and final year of hosting the awards and the winter festival, with over 7,500 in our first year and over 10,000 attendees last year and more expected to attend this year – with the CAMRA festival moving to Birmingham, West Midlands Region – New Bingley Hall - in 2020."

Ian added: "We can all raise a glass to the fantastic team of volunteers, brewers and judges here in Norwich, as well as the Fringe Festival host publicans, for launching the 2019 Great British Beer Festival Winter in style."

Ian also wishes to remind winter-beer lovers that they may taste the award-winning beers in Blackfriars’ Hall this week, until the festival closes on Saturday 23rd February at 10.30pm, stocks permitting.  Entrance is by advance-ticket or payment on the door.

Martin Ward, Festival Organiser, has added that the beers available in St Andrew’s Hall are a selection of shades and styles, from gold summer beers to the darker winter ales, so there is something to please everyone.

Should you wish to make your selection from the online beer listing, it can be found here - winter.gbbf.org.uk/beer – it shows beers coming soon, currently available and those which have sadly sold out, so do hurry along.

There is a range of hot and cold food offered daily with live entertainment at The Halls from Thursday evening with more live bands on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes and evenings.  See the winter.gbbf.org.uk website for more information.

Champion Winter Beer of Britain winners:

Overall Winners
Gold – Lacons’ Brewery Audit Ale
Silver – Calverley’s Porter
Bronze – Harviestoun’s Old Engine Oil

Barley Wine, Strong Old Ales
Gold – Lacons’ Audit Ale
Silver – Tring Death or Glory
Bronze – Robinson’s Old Tom

Old, Aged, Strong Milds
Gold – Tintagel Excalibur
Silver – Harvey’s Old Ale
Bronze – Brampton Mild

Porters
Gold – Calverley’s Porter
Silver – Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Bronze – Dancing Duck Indian Porter

Stouts
Gold – Plain Ales Inncognito
Silver – Dark Star Imperial Stout
Bronze – Cairngorn, Black Gold

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Featured beers to ‘whet the appetite’ at February festival

Beverages from all over the world will be presented at the Great British Beer Festival Winter, the last chance to catch this rolling festival in Norwich!

As the final preparations are underway and hundreds of volunteers get ready to come together for the last February festival, Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA have given us a preview of some of their featured beers. 

In the main St Andrew’s Hall there is simply every beer of every style and season!

Starting with the subtle flavours of the golden ales, like the Hambleton Raspberry Blonde Ale or Lees Golden with light toffee sweetness and fruit-hop finish or try the berry and citrus IPAs and maybe try Oakham’s Dragon In Bavaria with tangerine, citrus and hints of rose, the Little Valleys Radical Roots Ginger Pale, or Moor’s Smokey Horyzon – a smoked, spicy beer.

The dark beer selection is equally exciting – with High Weald’s Charcoal Burner or Little Valley’s Stout with orange aroma, try Firebrick’s Cushey Butterfield (tonka bean stout) or their Conquistador (black vanilla, dark berry stout).

Take time to find out what the cider bar has to offer.  Rated from very sweet to very dry you can find the perfect ciders and perries for your palette.

If you like something sweet, try the fruit beers in the World Beer Bar, in the marquee.

Take a look in Blackfriars' Hall to discover who won the 2019 Champion Winter Beer of Britain and sample winners and finalists.  Select from a wonderful range of sweet winter beers, like the Winter’s Vanilla Latte, Boudicca’s Prasto’s Porter – a special edition with dark cherries and liquorice – or try something different like FCB’s Honey and Elderflower or Humpty Dumpty’s NBB Frisher Gerstensaft, a Koln style beer with a golden and slightly fruity taste.

Remember to visit the Brewery Bars with award-winning beers from both Lacons and Norfolk Brewhouse.

Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten Free beers are also in plentiful supply thanks to our organising committee champions and are denoted by their respective symbols – V, VG, GF.

The World Beer Bar, managed by Cheryl Cade, has grown and will host some very special beers on limited supply.  Tuesday is the battle of the Berlinerner Weisse - Mikkeller, Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Watermelon verses the Alvinne Berlinerner Weisse, which is best? You decide!

Wednesday is USA day with Ale Smith, Speedway Stout (Hawaiian) and Jackie O’s Brewery Chomolungma or Electro Lyte lager. Thursday is ‘enter into the darkside’ including Westerham, Wally Winker Death by Chocolate and the Struise, Black Damnation Mocha Bomb 2018.

Friday is Belgian day with Hedonis Ouwen Duiker or try the Hof Ten Dormaal, Frambuesa y Chocolate (raspberry & chocolate, barrel aged).

Track the beers as they change with the live online beer listing, available here.

New to the beer festival?  Pay four(£)-on-the-door and grab your glass and beer tokens and away you go! With music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and hot food served every day 12 noon til 10.30pm, what’s not to like?

This national CAMRA festival moves location every three years and this will be the last year it will be hosted in Norwich by the Norwich & Norfolk Branch.

The annual Norwich Beer Festival will remain a favourite fixture in the October calendars of local beer-lovers and will celebrate its 42nd year in October 2019.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Great British Beer Festival Winter to support the Benjamin Foundation

The Benjamin Foundation are the chosen charity for the Great British Beer Festival Winter 2019, taking place at The Halls, Norwich, from 19th February.

The festival commences on Tuesday 19th February 2019, with a CAMRA members preview, then opens to the public and runs until Saturday 23rd February. The festival offers beers of every season, world beers, fruit beers and ciders, with music nights and hot food served throughout each day.

To support The Benjamin Foundation, visitors to the festival may donate coins in collection tins and buckets and give remaining beer tokens to the charity in the box at the glasses stand or pop them in the buckets.  You may also visit their stand in Blackfriars’ Hall where they will be happy to talk about the information and support they provide.

Michael Ryan, Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA
Branch Secretary with Rachel Hogg,
Communications Co-ordinator of
the Benjamin Foundation
The Benjamin Foundation was founded in 1994 and since then the charity has been helping people across Norfolk, and more recently in Suffolk, to deal with some of the challenges that life throws at them; from ‘everyday’ problems such as finding affordable childcare, to heart-breaking issues such as youth homelessness, bullying or abuse.

Every service The Benjamin Foundation delivers is focused on providing hope, opportunity, stability and independence and includes:
Working to prevent youth homelessness by providing a home and support to over 100 vulnerable young adults at any time. They give the young people a stable home and provide the skills they need so they can leave and forge an independent life.
Delivering a range of services to support children, young people and families facing challenges. By helping at an early stage their work aims to prevent more serious problems arising in the future.
Providing education to pre-school children in a safe, supportive environment which gives their parents peace of mind.
Providing positive activities to young people who have limited opportunities in life – perhaps they’re caring for a parent or come from a socially deprived area. A chance to escape their day-to-day pressures and be a child again is vital.
Their store, shop and handyman service generate profits to help fund the charity, while providing helpful services for the community.

The Great British Beer Festival Winter is open to the public from Wednesday, 20th February, from 12noon until 10.30pm every day until, and including, Saturday 23rd February. 

The Halls, including Blackfriars' and St Andrew’s medieval friary complex, is also home to the Norwich Beer Festival, which is also organised by the Norwich & Norfolk Branch of CAMRA.  The festival will feature a range of ales from traditional dark ales to light summer beers and hoppy ales, alongside ciders and world beers. 

Entrance is FREE to CAMRA members and £4 to non-members (£3 Wednesday) on the door – plus advance tickets are now on sale.  There is also a Fringe Festival taking place throughout February in local pubs and venues.  For more information about The Festival and The Fringe visit winter.gbbf.org.uk.

For more information about The Benjamin Foundation, please visit benjaminfoundation.co.uk.  For beer festival information, see winter.gbbf.org.uk.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Norwich Beer Festival logo competition launched

The annual competition has been launched by CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) to find the logo for the 42nd Norwich Beer Festival, taking place from Monday 21st October until Saturday 26th October 2019.

The competition has commenced early again this year as the Norwich & Norfolk branch will be hosting the Great British Beer Festival Winter (Tuesday 19th February until Saturday 23rd February 2019).  This will be the last time the branch host this event, as it moves to a different part of the country next year.  Visit winter.gbbf.org.uk for more information.

The deadline for 42nd Norwich Beer Festival logo entries is 9pm Monday 18th February 2019 and Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA are looking for innovative designs depicting a dragon of some form.

Craig Harmer, Festival Organiser, said: “Last year's entries included a wide variety of designs and styles, with many high quality logos.  We had 38 entries, and we're expecting more this year”.

As always, the essential element is that a dragon must be included within the design, although abstract is acceptable.  Also, a maximum of five solid colours (four is preferable) can be used, including any black or white parts of the design.

Entrants are asked to specify "Adult" or "Under-18" and include their name, contact details and age (if under-18) within the email.  Visit www.camra.org.uk/privacypolicy for our privacy policy.

Judging will by organised by the festival organisers and the winner will receive £100 along with a selection of merchandise featuring their logo at the festival.  There will be two runner-up prizes of complementary festival tickets, and the best under-18 entrant will receive a voucher.

All entries must be in a standard image format (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, BMP, or PDF).  Vector files are welcome as long as a standard image format is included.  Hand drawn entries are acceptable, but must be scanned or photographed. Multiple entries are also acceptable.

All entries (and queries) must be emailed to logo@norwichbeerfestival.org.uk and be received before 9pm Monday 18th February 2019.  All email entries will be acknowledged.

The logo of the winner will be depicted on the festival glass, programme, and other merchandise.

All entries will become the property of the Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale and may be used for display and publicity purposes.