Saturday, 18 August 2018

CAMRA’s Norwich Winter Beer Festival from 19th February 2019

CAMRA invites festival lovers to enjoy ales-of-every-season at Norwich’s final Great British Beer Festival Winter from 19th February 2019!

Not to be confused with a festival for winter beers alone, this has beers of every style and shade, served in cask, KeyKeg and bottle - from dark to ruby brown and golden ales, plus world beers and real ciders.

After this final one in Norwich, the national event moves to a different location.

The festival runs from 19th-23rd February 2019 at St Andrew's and Blackfriars' stunning medieval friary halls, opening with a preview evening for CAMRA members only.

Martin Ward, organiser, commented: ‘2019 is the final chance to catch the February festival in the historic City of Norwich.’

Local pubs will also be getting involved in The Fringe which runs for the whole of February, with organised crawls and treasure trails, special events, competitions, featured brewers, all in the heart of Norwich. Visit

Jenny Bach, Publicity Officer added: ‘The February Fringe invites visitors to also enjoy the many characteristic real ale pubs, all in easy walking.’

The event has been likened to CAMRA’s national summer festival in London Olympia as ‘like it, but cosier!’.  There is also hot food and snacks served all day and live music most evenings.

As always at the event, the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition will be judged.  Local and national brewers will compete in each category and the winners and overall winner will be announced at the opening evening.  Competition ales, including winners, can be sampled by visitors in Blackfriars' Hall.

The chosen charity is the Benjamin Foundation and visitors are invited to donate cash and unspent tokens using the glasses stand box and collection pots.

Entrance is cash-only on the door, is free to CAMRA members and is open from midday all day Wednesday to Saturday.  Pre-event ticket packages, including beer tokens and souvenir glasses, can be secured.

For ticket packages or more information on the Festival and February Fringe visit

Monday, 13 August 2018

Norwich Beer Festival is returning in October!

Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA get ready for the October beer festival, now in its 41st year.

Real ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, along with ciders, perries, wines, bottled and draught beers.

The festival runs from Monday 22 to Saturday 27 October 2018 and will also be launching a new bar showcasing over 40 beers never before featured at the festival.  With a limited supply of each beer, it promises to offer some interesting flavours and new delights to real ale lovers. 

The Norwich Beer Festival takes place in the medieval St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls.  The Halls are a friary complex dating back to the 13th century, rebuilt in 1470 and Grade 1 listed.

When asked why the festival has been going from strength to strength, festival organiser Craig Harmer commented: ‘We appeal to the ale-lover but also offer something for everyone.  It doesn’t stop at cask ales, we have a world beer bar and craft keykeg beers, a bar dedicated to perries and ciders, with over 80 to choose from and several wines too, plus hot food, snacks and live music.’

Craig added that Saturday is a good day to visit the festival as it is open all day from midday with last entrance at 9pm and it is also not busy so you can usually just walk straight in at any time.

There is also a limited number of advance tickets if you want to guarantee entrance which are on sale now from the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA website, this can be especially useful if arriving separately but meeting up as a group.

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.’

For those who have never experienced the festival, you can expect a vibrant evening with entertainment, games, food and beers.  There is such a wide variety of beers, ciders, world beers and even wine, you can’t fail to find something you like!  There are even gluten-free beers.

Brass bands have become a popular feature at Norwich Beer Festival and local bands will also play most lunchtimes and evenings, for the full line-up please visit the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA website.

Music-free sessions in St Andrew’s Hall are on Tuesday evening and Wednesday lunchtime.  On the busy weekend nights, visitors can still enjoy a quiet conversation in the marquee, cloisters and Blackfriars Hall.  There is also seating in the cloisters and marquee.

Opening times and prices, a map of where to find the Halls and a layout plan can all be found on the Norwich CAMRA website.  The website also has a guide and will have beer and cider lists nearer to the opening date, so you can plan your visit beforehand.

On entrance to the halls visitors purchase a festival glass and beer cards, as cash is not accepted at the bars, and remaining beer card tokens may be cashed-in at the end of the visit, or donated to charity.

The 2018 charity of the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch is Headway, Norfolk and Waveney’s brain injury charity.  They promote independence and rehabilitation, providing information and support services directly to those in need.

This year, the festival will be open longer on Saturday 28th October, as there will be no break between the sessions and Saturday admission will be from 12noon until 9pm, with closing time at 9.30pm, with cash entry on the door (or with a limited number of advance tickets) or free admission with a valid CAMRA membership card.  Entrance on Saturday is only £3 all day for non-members.

Norwich city pubs will also be ready to host those visiting the festival from afar, with a real ales and ciders, including CAMRA’s 2018 award winners – The Norfolk Lurcher (formerly the Ugly Bug), awarded rural pub of 2018; the Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Lawson Road awarded City Pub, Branch Pub and Norfolk Pub of the Year 2018 and the White Lion in Oak Street awarded Cider Pub of 2018.

The selection of real ciders and perries has grown year on year, as the appeal for ciders has grown in recent years, with drinkers preferring a wide selection of flavours and styles.  This year the festival will offer 80 different varieties, mostly from East Anglia.

Over the four decades the festival has evolved from around 20 odd beers served on small tables in Blackfrairs Halls in 1977, where the organisers visited breweries one by one requesting to buy beer for an unknown local festival.  Now there are over 220 cask-conditioned real ales on sale and the organisers have reached capacity!

Festival goers may also vote on their favourite beer in the festival competition.  You can vote for your festival beer using the voting form in the programme and the results should be announced at the end of the week before the festival finishes on Saturday.

A varied music line-up will be announced shortly for the 2018 festival and Blackfriars will be a music-free area.

Cash admissions will be available on the door at every session.  As always, CAMRA members have free entry all week with the presentation of a valid membership card.

For more information, beer lists and admission times and prices visit the Norwich Beer Festival web pages.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Great British Beer Festival Winter 2018 supports local charity

The charity of CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival Winter in 2018 was Age UK Norwich and attendees raised £3,651.

Emma Roper, Fundraising Manager, commented: ‘We are delighted to have raised such a generous donation which will help us to continue to widen our support for the older people of Norwich.’

Emma Roper of Age UK Norwich receives the cheque for £3651 from Chris Thomas, Treasurer of N&N CAMRA.

Age UK Norwich is dedicated to making later life the best it can be for anyone aged 50+.

They have been providing services to the people of Norwich, their carers and family members, for over 70 years, including: activity groups and social clubs; free advice; and dementia care support groups and services.

The charity also provides a volunteer befriending scheme.
‘Befriending for older people who are lonely and in need of a friendly chat and a bit of company can be a very rewarding experience’, explains Susan Ringwood, Chief Executive Officer for Age UK Norwich. ‘We currently have 197 volunteers helping locally and we welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer through our charity.’

If you would like more information about Age UK Norwich, you can visit their Information and Advice Team, located in the charity’s shop at 60 London Street, Norwich NR2 1JX, or call the team on Norwich 496333.

Martin Ward, Great British Beer Festival Winter Organiser commented: ‘We are delighted to support Age UK Norwich.  We all become older and the services provided by the charity are in great need and their drop-in advice centre is a great local resource.’

The festival returns to Norwich in February 2019, for the half-term week and the 2019 chosen charity is The Benjamin Foundation.

The Great British Beer Festival Winter starts on Tuesday, 19th February 2019, at The Halls, Norwich, opening with a CAMRA members-only preview from 5.30pm.  It is then open to everyone from 12noon until 10.30pm every day until Saturday 23rd February 2019.

The festival will feature a range of ales from traditional dark ales to light hoppy ales, with hot food available and live music.  Entrance is free to CAMRA members and non-members can pay on the door.

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

Monday, 9 July 2018

Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Norwich is Norfolk’s Pub of The Year

Norfolk members of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) have selected The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, in Lawson Road, Norwich, as their 2018 Norfolk Pub of the Year

To add to their accolades, the Norwich pub has also been awarded City Pub of the Year 2018 and Branch’s overall Pub of the Year 2018 by the local CAMRA branch and have previously won the same awards as recently as 2016. 

Landlords Mark White and Laura Hedley-White took over the pub, formerly known as the Cider Shed, and is part of the Fat Cat group of pubs. 

Mark said: ‘When we won the local CAMRA award in 2016 we thought we had reached a pinnacle, but now having won the Norfolk county Pub of the Year 2018 we are absolutely amazed and delighted.’ 

Laura also added: ‘We couldn’t have done it without our dedicated staff who create the fun and friendly atmosphere and push us to do the best we can.  It really does feel like one big family.’

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap is a characterful real ale hotspot serving its own Fat Cat beer and a selection of around 20 other real ales, plus 12 keg beers, around 10 traditional ciders and perries plus bottled and canned beer and a range of wines.

Described as a ‘year-round beer festival with live music and the most enthusiastic managers you could wish to find’ the venue also offers a popular range of mother chips and sharing cheese platters in colourful, original, rustic surroundings. 

In second position came the Kings Arms, of Shouldham (West Norfolk Branch); in third place was the Tombstone Saloon, in Gt Yarmouth (East Norfolk Branch); and in fourth place came the Old Kings Head in Brockdish (Mid Anglia Branch).

Martin Ward, of Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA, commented: ‘All pubs were of a very high standard and we would like to pass on our thanks to all those who were involved in the scoring and judging.’

Monday, 25 June 2018

Norwich hosts beer appreciation awareness!

A Beer Appreciation course has been hosted in Norwich for members of Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA.  The course is intended for members to attain the skills necessary to judge quality beers at local events and competitions and to enhance their own personal appreciation.

The Beer Appreciation course is recognised by CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) and the training was hosted by Alan Edwards and held in The Beehive on Leopold Road, Norwich.  The course involved tasting 6 Norfolk beers and compiling tasting notes.

The course enables participants to judge local competitions and is particularly timely on the run up to the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition which is due to be hosted in Norwich at The Halls on Tuesday, 19th February 2019 and will kick start the popular Great British Beer Festival Winter which will run until Saturday 23rd February 2019.

Those who passed the course were Dee Leybourne-Edwards who passed with top marks, Roy Edwards, Chris Wickens, Damian Lofthouse, Sheila McGinley, Steve Turner, Oli Fernandez, Hilary Goreham, Peter Goreham, Matt Sladen, Andrew Smith and Michelle Royall.  Charles Brett and Chris Rimmer also attended the training, but did not take the exam.

Local CAMRA members will be invited to join further CAMRA Beer Appreciation courses in the coming months.

Alan Edwards, trainer, commented: “It is a busy year for Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA, with the annual Norwich Beer festival in October and the Great British Beer Festival Winter in February, both at The Halls. 2019 will be the last year Norwich will host this festival having reached the end of the 3-year term before it moves to a different CAMRA location.

“There are also many other CAMRA festivals in East Anglia and now is a good time to join in the activities and campaigns to protect local ale, cider, perries and of course pubs and clubs."

Norwich Beer Festival, which runs from Monday 22nd to Saturday 27th October 2018, will also be launching a new bar showcasing over 40 beers never before featured at the festival, with a limited supply of each beer, it promises to offer some interesting flavours and new delights to real ale lovers.

The Great British Beer Festival Winter will also be hosting a Fringe Festival in local pubs and venues, with beer tasting events and meet the brewer events planned from 1st February 2019. 

CAMRA currently has a national membership of over 191,000 and the Norwich and Norfolk branch are active in offering social events, surveys and campaigns to protect local breweries, pubs and real ale, ciders and perries.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Branch 'Pub Of The Year' winners anounced

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, on Lawson Road in Norwich, has been voted Norwich & Norfok CAMRA branch's 2018 Pub Of The Year.

The pub has been awarded both the 2018 City Pub of the Year and the Branch’s overall Pub of the Year by the members of the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

Landlords Mark White and Laura Hedley-White have received the news of the win. Mark said: ‘We are thrilled and very proud of what we have achieved and very thankful to our amazing team and to the support of our customers.

‘Our aim has always been simple; seek out the best and most innovative beers the UK has to offer, then serve them in the most fun environment we can create.’

Laura also commented that she is delighted to hear that they have once again received both awards, having also won back in 2016 and added: ‘We believe good music goes hand in hand with good beer, so we select some of the finest bands we can find for you to listen to whilst exploring our extensive ale and cider menu.’

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap is a characterful real ale hotspot serving its own Fat Cat beer and a selection of around 20 other real ales, plus 12 keg beers, around 10 traditional ciders and perries plus bottled and canned beer and a range of wines.

Described as a ‘year-round beer festival with live music and the most enthusiastic managers you could wish to find’ the venue also offers a popular range of mother chips and sharing cheese platters in colourful, original, rustic surroundings.

The Norfolk Lurcher, in Colton, has scooped the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA 2018 Rural Pub of the Year.

Purchased a little over 10 years ago by Alison and John Lainchbury, who run the pub and restaurant with the help of their son Daniel and his wife Penny, The Norfolk Lurcher is the country place to visit for a great drink and good local food.

Home to the Ugly Bug Restaurant offering quality, fresh local food, the pub itself changed its name to the Norfolk Lurcher, named after the family dog, Alfie, a Norfolk Lurcher.

Daniel commented: ‘John, Alison, Penny, myself, and not forgetting Alfie, were all absolutely thrilled to hear that we had won this year. It was completely unexpected! We would like to thank our fantastic regulars, locals and CAMRA members who nominated and voted for us, without whom we would not be in this situation.

‘We would also like to thank our local brewers for making such amazing beers that everyone loves so much! We would equally like to thank our staff, who have worked so hard all year round to help us achieve this great award.’

The Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch have also awarded the 2018 Cider Pub of the Year, won for the seventh time by The White Lion, Oak Street, Norwich.

Russell Corke, manager of the pub which is run by Individual Pubs, the trading arm of Milton Brewery, said: ‘We are delighted to win this award again which demonstrates our continued commitment to providing a range of quality local and traditional ciders for our customers.’

The runner-up in the City Pub of the Year is the Beehive, and the Rural Pub runner-up was the White Horse at Neatishead, both former winners.

Ian Stamp, the Norwich and Norfolk Branch Chairman said: ‘As always, the competition for Branch Pub of the Year was very tight, with only a couple of points (out of 40) separating the top ten pubs.

‘The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, a previous winner in 2016, well deserves the prize, as a well-managed pub with something for everyone - a fantastic range of both traditional and modern real ales and keg beers, a great list of ciders and perries, regular live music and great food, but also a "real pub" atmosphere. Congratulations to Mark and Laura and all their staff!

‘I would also like to congratulate Alison and John Lainchbury, owners of the Norfolk Lurcher, a new winner of our Rural Pub of the Year. They've worked very hard since buying the pub over ten years ago, and from my visits over the years I can vouch for the quality of the beer - we must visit the pub to sample the food, which I'm told is also excellent!’

The winners will be presented with their award certificates at the respective pubs in the near future.  Details will be announced on the branch Facebook page and website calendar.

The overall winner, the Fat Cat Brewery Tap, will now go on to the Norfolk Pub Of The Year competition and will be judged against the King's Arms, of Shouldham, West Norfolk Branch; Tombstone Saloon, of Great Yarmouth, East Norfolk Sub-Branch; and the Old King's Head, Brockdish, Mid Anglia Branch, to find the overall Norfolk Pub Of The Year.

The White Lion will also go head to head with other cider pub winners to find the overall Cider Pub Of The Year.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

World Beers at the Great British Beer Festival Winter

CAMRA are hosting the Great British Beer Festival Winter, taking place in Norwich from 20 to 24 February and featuring World Beers in The Halls central marquee.

World beers have been selected from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, UK and the USA and will be showcased in the marquee, accessed via the Cloisters of St Andrew’s Hall.

All beers are note-worthy, but just to select a few to whet the appetite: 

There will be a bottled Australian golden ale, Little Creatures, laden with hops with loads of character. 

Austria’s Brauerei Schloss will also be represented with its Samichlaus Doppelbock, perhaps the rarest in the world! Samichlaus is brewed on 6th December each year and older vintages become more complex with a creamy warming finish.

There is a limited edition Alvinne beer, available in bottles at the World Beer Bar from the ‘Wild West’ of Belgium.  This beer is aged in French oak barrels (Chateau La Croizillé) from 2011 and contains a wide range of handpicked berries. 

There is naturally a large selection of Belgium beers including bottled Trappist beers from Belgium, Netherlands and Italy, together with a classic Belgium Dubbel on draft, with dry fruit flavours and gentle roastiness. 

There is a wide selection on draught, such as the Thirstin More from Warpigs brewery of Denmark, a hazy golden beer with an aroma of dry orange fruits, wheat, citrus and flowers. 

There is a collaborative brew brought to us by Fuerst Wiacek of Germany together with Zagovor Brewery, ‘German Movies’, a double dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Galaxy that they acquired from the Põhjala Brewery of Estonia.

There are also lagers from Germany, Poland and UK on draft.  Also look out for the array of draught UK beers from All Day Brewing, Ampersand, Burnt Mills, Little Earth Project, Nene Valley Brewery and Redwell, alongside a tempting selection of Belgium draught beers.

From the USA, we have on draught the Gangster Frog IPA, from Hopping Frog brewery, a crisp and satisfying American IPA with a bright, spicy citrus hop character up front and a distinct orange and tropical fruit hop bouquet, adding a welcome complexity.

Other special beers of note on draughtt at the festival include keg beers La Pirata ‘Lupulus’ session IPA (3%, Spain); Prairie Artisan ‘Birthday Bomb!’ (13% double imperial stout, USA); Zywiec’s vegan Blonde lager (5.6%, Poland); and Mahrs Brau’s ‘Hell’, a 4.9% lager from Germany.

Making its first ever UK appearance will be the American Citreamcicle from Mantra Artisan Ales. A vanilla and lactose IPA with a tropical bouquet.

Cheryl Cade
Cheryl Cade, who manages the World Beer Bar comments: ‘There is a limited selection of each beer, but there is such a wide choice we are sure you will find something of interest.  If you are unsure or can’t find what you’re looking for, please ask our experienced team of volunteers, they will be happy to help you find that special something.’

Cheryl is a Beer Sommelier and hosts beer events throughout the year through her business, The Thirst Consultants.  Cheryl is also hosting the Beer & Fine Dining Experience to be held at the Maids Head Hotel, offering a three-course evening menu pairing with different local beers on Sunday 18 February, 7.30pm.

Local brewers will be sponsoring the event as part of the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival Winter. Breweries are: Ampersand Brewery, Allday Brewing, Elmtree, Boudicca, Humpty Dumpty, Beeston and Panther.

To keep track of the draught beers (including draught world beers) on offer during the festival, you can view the online beer list, which is updated as they change:

The World Beer Bar forms an integral part of the Great British Beer Festival Winter, which starts on Tuesday, 20 February, at The Halls, Norwich, opening with a CAMRA members-only preview from 5.30pm.  It is then open to everyone from 12noon until 10.30pm every day until the 24 February. For more information about The Festival and The Fringe visit