Monday, 19 December 2011

2012 Norwich Beer Festival logo competition

With the 34th Norwich Beer festival now a slightly hazy memory, thoughts have now turned to preparing for the 35th, which will take place from the 29th October 2012.

To kick matters off we need a logo for the festival, which forms one of the prime marketing tools for the festival. “In previous years, we have received a remarkable number of entries with an amazing concoction of ideas” says Martin Ward, the current festival organiser.

Obviously in 2012, it being an anniversary year, we would like to make the logo a little special, but still with a dragon somewhere in the design. However designs involving five rings or torches, etc., will probably be dismissed straight away, just in case we run into difficulties with another major event taking place in 2012!

The winning entry will receive £100 plus a selection of goodies at the festival and be judged by the organising committee at the inaugural planning meeting in the New Year. The winning under-18 entrant will get a book voucher.

The most important element of the design is that a dragon must be included, but abstract is fine; with a maximum 5 colours (although 4 is preferable), including any black or white parts of the design.

Emailed entries should be in a computer readable format (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PDF, Postscript, GIMP, Inkscape, Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw), please. NO MS Word document files please.

Entries (one per sheet or email, maximum size A4) can be sent to Logo Competition, 32 Meadow Vale, Costessey, Norwich, NR5 0NJ or email to by Monday, 20th February 2012.

On the back of the paper, or within the email, please specify "Adult" or "Under 18" and include your name, contact details and age (if under 18).

All entries become the property of Norwich & Norfolk Campaign for Real Ale and may be used for display and publicity purposes.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Norfolk Cider and Perry is the Best in East Anglia

Three Norfolk cider makers, Peter Blake, Jonty's Cider, and Whin Hill Cider, are celebrating wins at CAMRA's East Anglian Cider Competition. The competition, which attracted a total of 23 cider entries and 6 perry entries, took place at CAMRA's Norwich Beer Festival in October this year.

The results for cider were:
1stHog & Vine Original, made by Peter Blake in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
2ndEarly Night, made by Jonty's Cider (Banham, Norfolk)
3rdDry Cider, made by Glebe Farm (Kings Ripton, Cambridgeshire)

The other finalists were (in alphabetical order of maker):
Organic New Crop (Whisky Cask), made by Castlings Heath (Edwardstone, Suffolk)
Owld Norfolk, made by Crones Organic Cider (Kenninghall, Norfolk)
Orchard Cider, made by Greenwoods (Norwich, Norfolk)

The winning perry, for the second year in a row, was Whin Hill Perry, made by Whin Hill Cider (Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk).

The winning cider, Hog & Vine, from small cider maker Peter Blake, was described by judges as having "an aroma of a cornucopia of woodland fruits, a bit Christmas puddingesque. Flavoursome with lots of body, and a long lingering finish."

Some 10 years ago, Peter Blake and a group of friends thought it would be a good idea to make cider for personal consumption. Listening to the ‘buy and sell’ programme on Radio Norfolk one Saturday morning, they discovered some cider making equipment for sale, so duly purchased it.

The name, Hog and Vine comes from the old pig shed covered in vines that has been converted into a cider making shed. Peter Blake said "To say it was hard work is a massive understatement but we persevered and were pleasantly surprised with the results. Over the years we have progressed and modernised.

"I would like to thank all the people in the Martham area who kindly donate their apples, and to those who assist with the production." Peter added, "I am amazed and very proud that ‘Hog & Vine Original’ came out top against so many other excellent ciders."

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Norwich MPs visit the 34th Norwich Beer Festival

Above: Mike Spivey, Chloe Smith and Martin Ward

Both Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, and Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South, visited the very successful 34th Norwich CAMRA Beer Festival at St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls on Friday 28th October.

Chloe Smith dropped into the lunchtime session and Simon Wright visited the evening session.

Martin Ward, the Festival Organiser, and Mike Spivey, the Branch Pubs Preservation Officer, accompanied by Mike Baldwin, Editor of the Branch Newsletter, Norfolk Nips, took the opportunity to explain to them how the festival was run and highlight some of the many issues facing local pubs and breweries today.

Martin Ward said that he was very pleased that they had both found the time to attend.

"It was a wonderful opportunity to meet them face to face," he said, "they were genuinely interested in our aims and objectives, which can only be good for the future.

"Today was all about building bridges," he added, "both Chloe Smith and Simon Wright (pictured above) now have a good understanding of the real ale, cider and perry scene in Norfolk and beyond and we look forward to a long and fruitful association with them."

Photographs by Mike Baldwin

Monday, 20 June 2011

215 different real ales on sale in Norwich - June 18th 2011

A survey organised by the Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), and carried out in the city on Saturday, 18th June 2011, found an amazing 215 different real ales available, topping recent claims from other cities to the title of UK Capital of Real Ale, per head of population.

A team of 26 volunteers visited 136 pubs, of which 113 (83%) offered a total of 489 real ales and 24 real ciders and perries. The total of 215 different ales beats the numbers achieved in similar surveys in Derby (161 ales, population 240,000) and Sheffield (240, 500,000 – which is a far larger population than Norwich).

Local ales from 22 of the county’s breweries were on sale with Woodforde’s Wherry taking the accolade of most popular ale, being available in 43 pubs. The Fat Cat had the most ales on the bar with 31, followed by the Whalebone (20), Duke of Wellington (16), Fat Cat Brewery Tap (15) and The Plasterers Arms (14). A dozen pubs visited were serving 7 or more ales.

However, pubs across the city contributed to the total with 56 pubs selling ales not available anywhere else, from the Maids Head in Catton (Flowers, IPA) to the Bread and Cheese, Adelaide Street (Wolf, Lupus Lupus) and from Otter Ale in the Birdcage to St Austell Tribute in the Cock at Lakenham.

The price of a pint of real ale ranged from £1.70 for a pint of Ruddles Best (3.7% ABV) in the Queen of the Iceni to £3.60 for Adnams Tally Ho (7.2% ABV) in the Fat Cat, with the average price still below the £3 mark at £2.95.

Ian Stamp, Norwich CAMRA member and organiser of the survey, said “This is an amazing result – we expected to get over 150 ales but 215 is fantastic and a great tribute to the publicans and real ale drinkers across the whole city who demand and get an excellent range of real ales and ciders”. Surely Norwich is the City of Ale!

Other statistics:
- Total pubs surveyed: 136
- Total serving real ale: 113 (83%)
- Total ales on sale: 498 (plus 24 ciders and perries), 186 from Norfolk Breweries
- Unique ales on sale: 215 (18 ciders and perries - subject to verification)
- Ales on sale in one pub only: 144
- Prices: £1.70 - £3.60, average £2.95 (Norfolk beers £2.92, non-Norfolk beers £2.97)
- Breweries: 98 (22 from Norfolk)
- Average ABV: 4.2%

Most Popular Beers (with publicans!):
43 Woodfordes Wherry
28 Adnams Southwold Bitter
23 Fullers London Pride
16 Greene King IPA
14 Greene King Abbot
13 Wolf Golden Jackal
12 Adnams Broadside
   Woodfordes Nelsons Revenge
 6 Hop Back Summer Lightning
   Sharps Doombar
   Wells & Youngs Bombardier
   Oakham JHB
   Woodfordes Once Bittern
   Woodfordes Sundew

Pubs with more than 2 unique ales:
17 Fat Cat
15 Whalebone
 7 White Lion
 6 Duke of Wellington
   Kings Head
 5 Bell
   Kings Arms
 4 Fat Cat Brewery Tap
   Plough (out of 4!)
   Trafford Arms
 3 Coach & Horses, Thorpe Road
   Cottage, Silver road

Pubs with most local ales:
13 The Plasterers
12 Fat Cat
10 Kings Head
 6 Ketts Tavern
   Coach and Horses, Thorpe Road
 5 Beehive, Leopold Road
   Fat Cat Brewery Tap
   Rose, Queens Road
 4 Coachmakers
   Duke of Wellington

Sunday, 29 May 2011

2011 Norwich Beer Festival logo unveiled

Norwich & Norfolk Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) unveil the winning logo for the 34th Norwich Beer Festival. How many dragons can you find?

As is becoming customary, the entries were a very high quality and there was a large quantity of entries for the members to choose from, which led to a lengthy judging process as the merits of the varied designs were deliberated.

Ultimately, Graham James, of Norwich, was declared the winner with his design of a dragon in the form of a traditional hand pump. See how many dragons you can spot?! As usual, the runners up will be displayed during the festival in October.

Graham was extremely surprised to hear the good news, delivered by Mark Stimpson, the competition co-ordinator, because he had only just refined his doodles in time to make the deadline in February.

His design was inspired by Tony Hart’s symmetrical drawings in the television programme “Vision On”. Graham also won the logo competition in 2003 with his Toby jug design.

Martin Ward, Festival Organiser, commented, “Again the effort that the public put into their entries is amazing. It’s always a tough decision but Graham’s dragon stood out to us”.

Graham can now look forward to a winner's cheque for £100, as well as a selection of festival merchandise, as reward for his hard work.

Although planning is at an early stage, as in previous years, we aim to provide an exceptional range of quality real ales and ciders from not only Norfolk, but other outstanding breweries around the country.

This year's beer festival runs from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th October at its usual venue of St Andrew's & Blackfriars' Halls, Norwich.

For further information about the festival, please see our web page at

Friday, 18 March 2011

Champion Beer of Norfolk 2011 announced

Grain Best Bitter has been named the Champion Beer of Norfolk 2011 by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

The 4.2% Best Bitter described as ‘A well balanced, full bodied beer with a rich malty aroma’ has emerged victorious from a year long programme of beer tasting conducted by the Norfolk Taste Panel.

The beer is brewed by the Grain Brewery from Alburgh, near Harleston. The brewery also claimed the Speciality Beer category with their Blonde Ash wheat beer.

Taste panel chair Alan Edwards explained, “We are charged with tasting, recording, and commenting on as many beers as possible. Norfolk beers are our main priority but with over 30 Norfolk breweries it is an awesome task.

"Almost 500 taste cards were completed last year. Almost half of them were for Norfolk brews with 41 beers from 15 breweries being covered. To emerge as the winner shows the true quality of the beer.”

The brewery was launched in 2006 by Geoff Wright and Phil Halls at premises in Alburgh, near Harleston. Selling cask and bottle conditioned beers, in 2010 it opened its first pub, the Plough in St. Benedicts Street, Norwich.

Five local breweries are award winners. The Norwich based Fat Cat Brewery claim a trio of awards with its Bitter, Cougar and Porter winning their respective categories.

Attleborough based Wolf Brewery’s Golden Jackal is the winner of the Golden Ale category for the third year in a row.

Dark Fantastic, the award winning mild from the Tharston based Spectrum Brewery is both vegan and organically certified.

Another Norwich brewery, Winters, takes the stout award for the second time in three years with its aptly named Genius.

The awards will be presented at the Trade Session of the Norwich Beer Festival in October.

Full Results:
Champion – Grain (Alburgh), Best Bitter.
Mild – Spectrum (Tharston), Dark Fantastic.
Bitter – Fat Cat (Norwich), Bitter.
Best Bitter – Grain (Alburgh), Best Bitter.
Strong Bitter – Fat Cat (Norwich), Cougar.
Golden Ale – Wolf (Besthorpe), Golden Jackal.
Speciality Beer – Grain (Alburgh), Blonde Ash.
Porter – Fat Cat (Norwich), Fat Cat Porter.
Stout – Winters (Norwich), Genius.