Tuesday, 14 March 2017

National Winter Ales Festival - ‘Like GBBF in London, but cosier’

Norwich enjoyed a week of celebrations as Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA teamed up with Norwich pubs to create a week of special events, including special real ales, food, festival events and music.

This was organised to coincide with celebrations at CAMRA’s National Winter Ales Festival (NWAF) at the St Andrew's and Blackfriars' medieval friary halls in Norwich – the home of the popular Norwich CAMRA Beer Festival.

The festival ran from 21st to 25th February, with the Fringe running a little longer, but for those who missed the partying, the festival promises to return in February 2018!

The national winter festival will run in Norwich for three consecutive years – 2017-2019 - and offers a range of winter ales, as well as golden ales more usually associated with a summer festival, ciders and foreign beers.

Rob Whitmore, beer festival organiser, has announced the dates for next year’s revelry as Tuesday 20th February until Saturday 24th February for the festival which will be returning to The Halls, Norwich.

Rob commented: "as we close NWAF 2017 - to our sponsors and programme designers, our wonderful fringe festival pubs, our suppliers and concession holders and our volunteers - not forgetting our hosts here at The Halls in Norwich and the bands that have performed here this week, a massive thank you!

"We have delivered a festival that will last in people's minds as the first National Winter Ales Festival in the fine city of Norwich.  To our visitors we hope you enjoyed your time here this last week at our pop up pub!

"We look forward to seeing you at other festivals, including the October Norwich Beer Festival and to seeing you and your friends here in February 2018. Thank you all!"

The Norwich festival also hosted the finals of the CAMRA Winter Beer of Britain and crowned Old Freddy Walker the Champion – a  7.3% old ale brewed by Moor Brewery from Bristol.

Justin Hawke from Moor Beer Company, is a Californian who moved to the UK and bought a brewery after falling in love with beer while on military service in Germany. He says: "We are absolutely thrilled to win the Champion Winter Beer of Britain award for the second time. Old Freddy Walker is a unique blend of a classic British beer combined with our own style of modern real ale.

"It's fantastic that this style is consistently recognised by CAMRA and others around the world."

Local brewers Adnams and Green Jack received awards, with Green Jack receiving a silver award in the Barley Wines & Strong Old Ales category for their Ripper Tripel and Adnams secured an award in the Strong Milds and Old Ales category with their Old Ale, having also been crowned CAMRA’s Champion Beer of East Anglia.

The Norwich Festival also attracted visitors from around the globe, including a party of 12 from Denmark visiting the winter festival from the Danish Beer Enthusiasts.

One of the party members, Christian Scheffel, commented: "I certainly had a good time.  The beer selection was the main thing for me. I came for the porters, old ales and barley wines.

"The staff were fun and friendly and we had some good chats, and ran into a few of them in the pubs after hours. The venue was very nice, with high ceilings and, as always, a good pub-like atmosphere, like GBBF but cosier." (GBBF is the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival, held in London each year, and is the only other national ales festival hosted by CAMRA).

The Festival also raised money for its chosen charity ‘It’s On The Ball’ and Rebecca Bushell from the charity commented: "We'd like to add our heartfelt thanks to CAMRA for inviting us to be their chosen charity for NWAF. We thoroughly enjoyed it and feel very touched by the support we received from the staff, volunteers and those who attended.

"Thanks to all who spoke to us, who bought our merchandise and made a donation. The funds raised will help us to continue the awareness work we are doing and will also help local testicular cancer patients too."