Monday, 16 September 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.