Saturday, 12 June 2021

Champion Cask Ale of Norfolk 2021

The Norfolk branches of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) have declared Mad Wolf, a Red Ale brewed by the Wolf Brewery, of Besthorpe, the Champion Cask Ale of Norfolk 2021.

Described by the judges as having a “Well rounded malty foundation with chocolate and chestnut support. A bittersweet hoppiness provides depth and balance. Full bodied and lasting”, the brew emerged as winner after a difficult year of judging by the Norfolk Taste Panel.

Panel chair Alan Edwards commented: “The last few months have been difficult for both the public and the trade. We have appreciated the efforts made by brewers and publicans to ensure the availability of Real Ale, even when the pubs have been closed.

“The members of the panel have taken every opportunity to taste the many wonderful brews available to the Norfolk drinker.”

Second place overall went to Fusioneer, a dark flavoursome mild described as having a biscuity roast backbone, brewed by Mr Winter’s Brewery, of Norwich. In third place was Lignum Vitae, a strong ale with toffee, orange and banana notes, from the Grain Brewery, of Alburgh in South Norfolk.

Alan added: “CAMRA recently reviewed and revised both the guidelines to beer styles and the actual judging cards used by the panel. This has enabled the beers to be judged against, and where appropriate repositioned into, both traditional and modern styles of brewing.

“This has given a much better fit for many of the beers as well as recognising the new adventurous brews now available. The panel is to be congratulated for embracing the new styles with enthusiasm and seeking out the best of Norfolk brews.”

Eleven of the 40-plus Norfolk breweries are represented in the awards and CAMRA hopes they will encourage landlords to stock the many fine brews available from local breweries and customers to seek out, support their local pubs.

The Norfolk panel is always looking for new members. If you would like to join us, please e-mail -- the greater the number of people contributing tastings throughout the county, the more beers we can taste, giving more breweries the chance to win awards.

Champion Cask Ale of Norfolk 2021 results:

Overall Winners
Winner - Mad Wolf, Wolf, Besthorpe
Runner Up - Fusioneer, Mr Winter’s, Norwich
3rd - Lignum Vitae, Grain, Alburgh

Mild Ales
Winner - Fusioneer, Mr Winter’s, Norwich

Session Bitters
Winner= - Table Bitter, Golden Triangle, Norwich
Winner= - Wensum Ale, St. Andrews Brewhouse, Norwich
3rd - Norwich Bitter, Fat Cat, Norwich

Premium Bitters
Winner - Nelsons, Woodfordes, Woodbastwick

Session Pale Blonde and Golden Ales
Winner - Evolution, Mr Winter’s, Norwich
Runner Up - Golden Jackal, Wolf, Besthorpe
3rd - Lupus Lupus, Wolf, Besthorpe

Premium Pale Blonde and Golden Ales
Winner - Legacy, Lacons, Gt. Yarmouth
Runner Up - White Face, Moon Gazer, Hindringham

Red Ales, Brown Ales, Old Ales & Strong Milds
Winner - Mad Wolf, Wolf, Besthorpe

Session Stouts & Porters
Winner - Vanilla Latte, Mr Winter’s, Norwich
Runner Up - Tombland Porter, St. Andrews, Norwich
3rd - Black Anna, Chalk Hill, Norwich

Strong Stouts & Porters
Winner - Dark Horse Stout, Elmtree, Snetterton

Barley Wines & Strong Ales
Winner - Lignum Vitae, Grain, Alburgh

Speciality Beers
Winner - Honey Ale, Fat Cat, Norwich

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Norwich Pub Festival 2021

Missing beer festivals? Try Norwich Pub Festival!

A month-long celebration featuring over 100 local pubs and breweries

This July, over 60 pubs in and around Norwich will be part of a month-long Norwich Pub Festival. It is the first event of this type run by Norwich & District CAMRA and it is designed to get more people back to the pub and enjoying local beers.

Pub Festival organiser Craig Harmer said: “During lockdown we were all missing the pub terribly, and we had to cancel Norwich Beer Festival last October.

“During our online committee meetings, we started talking about how we could help pubs get back on their feet after a difficult year.

“We wanted to plan something exciting for people, as well as supporting our fabulous local pubs and breweries.”

How will it work?

People can visit pubs from within colour-coded zones, mapped out in a festival guide available from participating venues. Each zone will include between 8 and 11 pubs, with a whole month to visit as many as you choose! 

The festival is not about pub crawling, but an opportunity to enjoy and support our local pubs safely and leisurely. 

Anyone who gets a stamp from every pub in a zone can claim a souvenir coloured wristband, and if you collect all colours (one wristband for each zone), you’ll qualify for a special prize to be awarded at Norwich Beer Festival in October!

Each pub is partnered with a brewery and receives a free cask of beer from them. They’ll also have the opportunity to work together to organise promotional events for customers during the festival.

There are over 40 breweries taking part and we want to say a huge thank you to them all for their support.

Getting around

Almost all the pubs taking part are on train or bus routes, and we’ll include public transport details in the festival guide. In Norwich, the central zones are walkable, and the pubs are very close to each other. 

Keep safe!

Please adhere to the latest Covid guidelines and drink responsibly.  If you need to drive or cycle, please keep everyone safe and have a soft drink, you’ll still get your stamp!

Finding out more?

Details of all the pubs and breweries taking part will be included in the festival guide, which you can pick up in pubs from June 21st. An online version will also be available via our social media pages:

Twitter @NorwichPubFest 

IG @NorwichPubFestival

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Norfolk’s 2021 Best Bottled Beers -- Lacons announced as the clear winner!

Norwich & District CAMRA’s tasting panel have carefully deliberated over some of the finest bottled beers and have selected the very best of Norfolk.

The overall Gold winner has now been revealed as Lacons Audit Ale, a dark copper barley wine bursting with marmalade, berry and spice aromas and flavours.

Brewed by the Great Yarmouth based Lacons Brewery, Audit Ale has been named the Champion Bottled Beer of Norfolk 2021.

The 8.0% strong barley wine stood out for judges who described it as having ‘Honey, marmalade and a sweet maltiness with a bitter edge’, and was given the accolade after a year-long series of tastings by members of the local Tasting Panel.

Lacons also scooped second place, for their Imperial Stout, inspired by stronger recipes from Lacons’ past, with mighty malt flavours; this beer was described by judges as ‘A kaleidoscope of malt, caramel and dried fruit with dark chocolate throughout.’

Overall third place was claimed by the new Birdhouse Brewery with their Mild. This is the first time this West Norfolk producer has featured in the awards – with one of the brewery’s original beers, a traditional mild, full of favour.

Panel chair Alan Edwards explained: ‘Real ale in a bottle has been the only way to enjoy the many quality Norfolk-brewed beers recently, due to pub closures and restrictions due to the Covid pandemic. It has also enabled many breweries to survive.’

Many of Norfolk’s 45 breweries produce Real Ale In a Bottle (RAIB). All were invited to enter the competition. Alan went on to add ‘The number of beers judged is only part of the rich portfolio available to Norfolk drinkers.

‘There are beers to suit all tastes, and we encourage ale-lovers to try them! CAMRA is part of the battle to preserve our rich pub and brewery heritage and we urge all appreciators to do their part in supporting local pubs and breweries.’

The full list of category winners:

1ST Lacons Brewery Audit Ale - Great Yarmouth
RUNNER UP Lacons Brewery Imperial Stout - Great Yarmouth
THIRD Birdhouse Brewery Mild - Downham Market

1ST Birdhouse Brewery Mild - Downham Market

1ST Humpty Dumpty Brewery Humpty Dumpty Ale - Reedham

1ST Elmtree Brewery Snetterton Scary Tree - Snetterton

1ST Elmtree Brewery Top of the Hop - Snetterton

1ST Two Rivers Brewery Happy Hopper - Denver
RUNNER UP Tindall Brewery Summer Loving - Seething

1ST Mr Winters Brewery Twisted Ladder - Norwich
RUNNER UP Elmtree Brewery Golden Pale Ale - Snetterton

1ST Lacons Brewery Old Nogg - Great Yarmouth

1ST Mr Winters Brewery Rorschach - Norwich
RUNNER UP Tindall Brewery Caramel Stout - Seething

1ST Lacons Brewery Imperial Stout - Great Yarmouth
RUNNER UP Grain Brewery Slate - Alburgh

1ST Lacons Brewery Audit Ale - Great Yarmouth

1ST Elmtree Brewery Winter Solstice - Snetterton
RUNNER UP Panther Brewery Hunter Dry Hopped Lager - Reepham

WHAT PUB? is CAMRA’s comprehensive online pub guide. It is free to members and non-members and is easily the most complete and up-to-date pub guide in the UK – giving information on local and national pubs; including updates on re-opening, facilities and special events and links to individual pubs’ social media and websites.  

Friday, 12 February 2021

Remembering Warren Wordsworth

Sadly, Warren Wordsworth, a former chairman of the Norwich & District CAMRA branch (2013-2016) died at his home in late 2020 and was cremated on January 5th 2021.

Aged 66, and originally from Polstead, in Essex, Warren lived in Norwich for many years and will probably be best remembered by many local drinkers as the person in charge of the products stall at Norwich Beer Festival.

With over 30 years membership of CAMRA, Warren was also previously the branch membership secretary, pubs officer, secretary and public affairs officer, where his administration skills were a useful asset.

Some may also recall Warren's leading role during the National CAMRA AGM & Members' Weekend held at St. Andrew's Hall in Norwich in April 2013.

Warren also enjoyed travelling, photography and trains and was an active member of the Norfolk Railway Society.

He was a keen promoter of pubs and had published a book on pub walks around Norwich, and will be remembered by several Suffolk CAMRA members as a regular competitor at the annual bowls matches played between Norfolk and Suffolk.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

The Hop In, North Walsham, is our Branch Pub of the Year 2020

The Hop In, North Walsham, is Norwich & District CAMRA’s Branch Pub of the Year 2020.

Congratulations to Jane Edrupt, Nigel Davies, Richard Cornwall and Sue Squires and their team on winning the overall Branch Pub of the Year for 2020!

Not only have the Hop In won Branch Pub of the Year 2020 but are also winners of Branch Rural Pub of the Year 2020.  The award was presented at the pub on Friday 18 September.

A jewel in the crown for North Walsham, The Hop In is a valued welcome to the local community and visitors of the market town. One of the best local transformations, this rare Norfolk micro pub offers a relaxed, friendly place to enjoy a good range of real ales on gravity, bottled and foreign beers and real ciders.

Richard and Sue decided to take early retirement in July 2020 and now Nigel and Jane are the co-owners of the pub. They are pleased to be joined by Julie and Adrian Hillier in keeping the Hop In going during these difficult times.

To allow for Covid restrictions, seating in the pub is restricted and there is additional seating outside and take-aways are also popular.

Richard Cornwall, previous joint owner of the Hop In, said: ‘I just want to thank all our customers for their valued support. We are very pleased that the business has been so successful and that we have been able to provide a venue in North Walsham for real ale drinkers. It has been a big team effort and we have been helped by local breweries supplying a great choice of ales.’

WhatPub entry for the Hop In.

More winners!

Branch City Pub of the Year 2020 has been scooped up by the ever-popular Fat Cat in Norwich.

The Fat Cat have twice won CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year and with 30+ real ales served all year round, it is little-surprising the Fat Cat has won Norwich’s City Pub of the Year! They also serve food and some of the most interesting lagers, craft ales, traditional perries and ciders.  

With additional seating outside now also extended to outside the Fat Percy, up the road from The Fat Cat, there is plenty of room to socially distance and enjoy something from their traditional real ale emporium.

WhatPub entry for the Fat Cat.

The White Lion is Branch Cider Pub of the Year 2020.

Many-times the winner of this accolade, the White Lion continues to be the trail blazer, offering the best cider and perries in the city, although, partly thanks to others following the trail over the past eight years, the pub won't be able to rest on its laurels!

Congratulations to landlord Oscar Gerdes, former landlord of The Garden House, who took over the popular pub from Russell Corke in early 2019. 

WhatPub entry for the White Lion.

Second ever Branch Club of the Year 2020 won by the Carleton Rode Social Club.

In the second year of this new branch competition, judged by Clubs Officer and a small judging panel, the Carleton Rode Social Club has beaten all local pubs to be awarded Branch Club of the Year 2020!

‘The whole team at Carleton Rode Social Club are incredibly proud of this achievement, to have our volunteer efforts be recognised by such a prestigious body is wonderful. Credit must also be given to the great local breweries who have helped us supply great real ales so well’.

Offering real ales and affordable drinks, congratulations go to the team, and the supporting community, on their win.

Now with protective screens and distanced tables both indoors and outdoors, the club is continuing to offer a full calendar of social events for all the family – with free membership being offered until May 2020!

WhatPub entry for the Carleton Rode Social Club.

Ian Stamp, Norwich & District CAMRA’s Pub Campaigns Co-ordinator, said: ‘Congratulations to the Hop In on their first Pub of the Year award, and to the Fat Cat, White Lion and Carleton Rode.

‘As always, the competition was very tough, as there are so many excellent pubs in the branch area. Thank you to all the CAMRA members who scored the pubs’.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Champion Cask Ale of Norfolk 2020

Red Mill, a 4.3% Best Bitter from the Reedham based Humpty Dumpty Brewery, has been named the top Norfolk brewed cask ale by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). 

The beer is described in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide as ‘Full bodied, robust and fruity.  Coffee, dark fruits and caramel vie for dominance against a malty bitter base.  Powerful rich ending.’

Humpty Dumpty also scooped second place with their Swallowtail, a 4.0% Bitter with a ‘marmalade and biscuit beginning enhanced by grainy bitter notes’.

Blimey Brewery from Norwich took third place with Eleven, ‘an orangey, citrus tasting Golden Ale’.

A year long programme of tasting carried out by the Norfolk Taste Panel saw the winner emerge from a field of over 350 locally brewed beers.

Panel chair Alan Edwards commented: “As can be seen from the list of winners we have a lot of good breweries in Norfolk with thirteen, from all parts of the county, gaining awards. We hope these awards will encourage pubs to stock local brews and drinkers to seek them out.

“We need to do all we can to support local pubs and breweries.  The panel will now continue judging as we look forward to naming a winner in 2021”.

The scores are not only used to judge the Champion Beers of Norfolk, they also contribute to the selection of the East Anglian and Champion Beer of Britain (CBOB) competitions.

2020 Category Winners:

1st: Red Mill, Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham
Runner Up: Swallowtail, Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham
3rd: Eleven, Blimey Brewery, Norwich

Mild Ales
1st: Mild, Winter’s Brewery, Norwich
Runner Up: Mardlers Mild, Woodforde’s Brewery, Woodbastwick

1st: Swallowtail, Humpty Dumpty, Reedham
Runner Up: Norwich Bitter, Fat Cat Brewery, Norwich
3rd: Affinity, Lacons Brewery, Great Yarmouth

Best Bitter
1st: Red Mill, Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham
Runner Up: Nelsons, Woodforde’s Brewery, Woodbastwick
3rd: Sirius Dog Star, Wolf Brewery, Besthorpe

Golden Ale
1st: Eleven, Blimey Brewery, Norwich
Runner Up: Evolution APA, Winter’s Brewery, Norwich
3rd: ThreeOneSix, Grain Brewery, Alburgh

Strong Mild
1st: Jubilee Mild, Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham

1st: Black Anna, Chalk Hill Brewery, Norwich
Runner Up: Darkest Hour, S&P Brewery, Horsford
3rd: Milk Stout, Fat Cat Brewery, Norwich

1st: Prasto’s Porter, Boudicca Brewery, West Barsham
Runner Up: Tombland Porter St Andrews Brewhouse, Norwich
3rd: Slate, Grain Brewery, Alburgh


Friday, 26 June 2020

Local Pubs – their views on re-opening

[This press release was produced before the reopening date of July 4th was announced]

Whilst a date for the reopening of pubs continues to be debated, along with safety measures and financial support; CAMRA Norwich & District’s recent survey reveals the views of local publicans.

Finance and staff pay is clearly a big issue for pub owners and operators.  Just over half of respondents reported a deferral, reduction or cancellation of rent during this period, which is extremely positive and a proportion who reported no reductions included non-rent payers.

Over 80% have invested personal funds to support them through this period, with one in five reporting an increase in loans.   One in ten reported raising funds innovatively, for example using a crowdfunding scheme. 

The vast majority, nearly 90%, of respondents reported that ongoing Government support would be extremely important to their pub’s survival.

The survey also asked what measures would be most popular for pubs?  The most popular measure for ease of implementation would be a 1m (3ft) distance between tables, however other respondents reported this to be impossible or difficult to operate and over 60% reported this to have a likely large negative effect on turnover.

Only just over 15% claimed a 2m (6ft) distance would be easy to implement, with over 37% claiming this to be impossible and a similar response was given to proposed screens or partitions between tables.

A cover or minimum charge proved unpopular or impossible to operate and pre-booked tables or a seated table service also proved unpopular due to its likely effect on income.  Of precautions such as temperature check, bar screens or imposing time/drink limits, the screen option was most popular. 

Sadly over 74% reported that reasonable restrictions would likely have 50% or more of an impact on their turnover figures.

One mentioned, ‘We all need to ensure people have confidence in returning to pubs, so all publicans should act responsibly and show the public they are doing what they can to keep safe.’ This is a view shared by other publicans; along with the view that pubs need publicity of any measures, to raise consumer confidence.

Ian Stamp, Chair of Norwich & District CAMRA, offered this comment ‘Publicans are being realistic about measures for reopening, with many able to use or access outdoor areas to increase capacity whilst allowing distancing measures.

‘However, each pub is individual with different challenges, so it is difficult to find a shared view, however we hope these results have given better insight into the views of those at the sharp end of the re-opening debate.’

Positively, the majority of those who responded are offering take-out services, with over 62% offering takeout drinks and over 33% offering takeout food, with some offering deliveries too.

However, Ian Stamp explained this may be misleading as those offering a service currently are also more likely to have responded, though notes many pubs locally have made this positive move.

Ian mentioned it is encouraging that even more wish to operate take-out food services in the future, though fewer anticipate continuing with their beer take-out service after re-opening.

Just under half of pub respondents are using the Brew2You service, though this figure also included those not offering a take-out service.

Customers can receive updated information on take-out options and individual pub re-opening news at which is updated by thousands of CAMRA volunteers and focuses on real ale pubs.