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 cr√®me 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