Monday, 15 December 2014

2014 Norwich Beer Festival hailed a great success!

Judging by the positive public feedback and the crowds who flocked to the 37th Norwich Beer Festival, the organisers from the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have hailed this year’s festival as a great success.

The annual event, held in St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls in Norwich during the week commencing Monday 27th October, again proved to be very popular with over 19,000 festival goers coming through the door.

The warm weather helped attract good numbers of new and regular visitors alike. The use of social media sites, such as Twitter, enabled organisers to provide updates on each session’s entrance price and time, entertainment acts and of course the refreshments available. A list of all the real ale was available online which was well received by drinkers who were also able to rate beers too.

The featured ales from Marble Brewery from Manchester proved a big hit with the excellent range of styles because all the beers had been drunk by Saturday night, and also the tutored tasting sessions proved popular again this year.

Furthermore it was a record-breaking year for the local CAMRA Branch’s Charity for 2014, the Hamlet Centre Trust of Norwich. Charity staff, trustees and volunteers attended to collect donations and unspent beer cards from Beer Festival attendees and collected a total of £9,500, with some funds still likely to come in. This amount is nearly double the figure that has been raised in previous years.

Pauline Morgan, Chief Executive Officer commented: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of CAMRA and the attendees of the 37th Norwich Beer Festival. We are so privileged and grateful to be nominated as the Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA Charity of the Year and the amount raised has exceeded all expectations.”

Pauline continued: “We would like to thank CAMRA and everybody who both donated and supported us in raising such an amazing amount.” The money raised will go towards providing ongoing support for families of children and young adults with disabilities across the trust.

A formal presentation of the cheque from the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA branch will be arranged for early 2015.

Two local breweries took the top two honours of the 2014 Beer Festival. The awards for the favourite beers, ciders and perries of the festival are voted each year by the drinkers at the festival. The overall Gold winner was Old Stoatwobbler by Beeston Brewery (based in Norfolk), Silver place went to Slate from Grain Brewery (Norfolk) and Marble Brewery’s (Greater Manchester) Earl Grey IPA won Bronze.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

2015 Norwich Beer Festival logo competition launched

The annual competition to find the new logo for the 38th Norwich Beer Festival, which will take place from Monday 26th October 2015, has just been launched. This is one of the first tasks for the annual beer festival and the logo will be one of the prime marketing tools for the festival.

Martin Ward, the festival organiser for the previous 11 years, said: “As ever, we are hopeful we will receive a large and superb array of entries. We receive entries on various themes, which just must include a dragon in some form, but the entrants can choose the setting. We always look forward to having a tough decision over the eventual winner!”.

The main winner will be judged by the organising committee at the planning meetings in the New Year and will receive £100 along with a selection of merchandising at the festival featuring their logo.

The winning under-18 entrant will get a book voucher and there will be ten runner-up prizes of complementary festival tickets. 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).

As always, the most important element is that a dragon must be included within the design, but abstract is fine; with a maximum five colours (although four 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 and with a maximum size A4) can be sent to Beer Festival Logo Competition, 22 Branford Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 4QD or email to by Monday 16th February 2015 at the latest.

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

Monday, 19 May 2014

Norwich Beer Festival logo unveiled

The Norwich & Norfolk Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are delighted to announce the winning design in the logo competition for the 2014 Norwich Beer Festival, which is one of the largest CAMRA Beer Festivals in the country.

The beer festival logo is widely used to promote the Festival on souvenir glasses, pin badges and clothing and so the merit of each entry, an impressive number of more than 70 this year, were carefully deliberated before the winner was selected by the Beer Festival Planning meeting attendees.

The 2014 winner is James Woodrow, from Thorpe Hamlet, who was so delighted on hearing the good news about his entry he proclaimed “Oh! I think I shall have a pint of Old Stoatwobbler!”.

He adds, “When the Festival glass is available, I think I shall have another one!”.

The legendary Old Stoatwobbler is a strong black stout which was originally brewed by Spectrum Brewery, which has sadly now closed, but the secret recipe has been passed to Beeston Brewery who continue to brew the 6% beer.

James has visited the Norwich Beer Festival every year since it started in 1977 and has entered the annual competition since it was first introduced in the early Eighties.

In fact his first attempt, which he admitted was “a hasty effort, drawn on the back of a beermat whilst being given a lift home in a rather wobbly bus, probably didn’t occupy the judges for long!”.

Now James has achieved his ambition, only time will tell if he continues to enter the competition again next year!

Martin Ward, the Festival Organiser, said that James’ design stood out because of the rare depiction of the building in which the Beer Festival takes place, as well as the nice shape of the dragon, which is the only design requirement given to entrants.

James wins £100 and also a selection of merchandise featuring his logo, including the glass, as keepsakes.

The 37th Norwich Beer Festival runs from Monday October 27th to Saturday November 1st 2014, at St. Andrew's & Blackfriars' Halls, Norwich.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Top Norfolk beer for 2014 named

For the fourth year in a row the Grain Brewery from South Norfolk has been hailed as the brewers of the Champion Beer of Norfolk.

Grain India Pale Ale (IPA), a 6.5% strong bitter, found favour with the trained tasters of the Norwich and Norfolk Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Taste Panel.

Described in the Good Beer Guide as “Powerful, complex, and rich with malt and hops vying with tropical fruit and bitterness for dominance”, the brew scored highest of the 50 brews tasted by the panel. It also claimed the Strong Bitter award.

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 more than 30 Norfolk breweries, it is an awesome task. Over individual 500 taste cards were completed by the panel last year.

"More than 300 of them were for Norfolk brews with 50 beers, from 16 breweries, being covered. To emerge as the winner shows the true quality of the beer.”

Grain 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 Benedict’s Street, Norwich.

Six local breweries are award winners in 2014. The Norwich based Fat Cat Brewery claimed the Bitter award with its Bitter Ale.  Norfolk’s largest brewery, Woodforde’s, claimed the Best Bitter and Old Ale categories with Nelson's Revenge and Norfolk Nog respectively.

Attleborough based Wolf Brewery’s Golden Jackal won the Golden Ale category. The Speciality category was topped by Honey Ale from the Reepham based Panther Brewery.

Another Norwich brewery, Winter’s, takes the stout award for the third time in six years with its aptly named Geniuss.

The awards will be presented at the trade session of the 2014 Norwich Beer Festival in October.

Champion -- Grain, Alburgh: IPA
Category winners
Bitter -- Fat Cat, Norwich: Bitter
Best Bitter -- Woodforde’s, Woodbastwick: Nelson's Revenge
Strong Bitter -- Grain, Alburgh: IPA          
Golden Ale -- Wolf, Besthorpe: Golden Jackal
Speciality Beer -- Panther, Reepham: Honey Ale
Old Ale -- Woodforde’s, Woodbastwick: Norfolk Nog
Stout -- Winter’s, Norwich: Geniuss

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Pub of the Year 2014 Results

Members of the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) have selected The Fat Cat (West End Street, Norwich) as their 2014 City Pub of the Year and also the Branch’s overall Pub of the Year.
It is the fourth time that landlord Colin Keatley has been awarded the Norwich & Norfolk branch’s title and said he was “absolutely delighted”.
The Norwich & Norfolk Pub of the Year is chosen from the winners of the Branch’s Rural and City Pubs of the Year.
The 2014 Rural Pub of the Year was won by The Green Dragon in Church Street, Wymondham, which they also won in 2012.   
The Fat Cat pub now goes into a head-to-head with the West Norfolk branch’s winner, The Coach and Horses in Dersingham, and also Mid Anglia’s winning pub, if that pub is in South 
Norfolk, with the victor progressing to the Regional level of the competition.  
Voting for the Pub of the Year awards was extended to an online facility for the first time for members, in addition to during the Branch meeting held in February, and also used CAMRA’s National Beer Scoring System (NBSS) for the first time which helped to double the numbers of members voting. The system encourages the scoring of pubs and real ale all year round judging for quality on a scale between 0-5. 
Warren Wordsworth, the Norwich and Norfolk Branch Chairman said “I would like to congratulate The Fat Cat for winning Norwich City Pub of the Year and overall Branch Pub of the Year and The Green Dragon in Wymondham for winning the Norwich & Norfolk Branch County Pub of the Year.
"The Fat Cat is always a very popular pub with real ale drinkers, having won CAMRA National Pub of the Year twice in recent years (1998 and 2004). I wish The Fat Cat luck in the future rounds of the competition.  The Green Dragon, situated in the historic market town of Wymondham, is a very atmospheric pub”. 
The Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch have also awarded the 2014 Cider Pub of the Year, won for the third time by The White Lion, Oak Street, Norwich.
Ben Ackers, landlord of the Milton Brewery pub, said "It's wonderful to win any award three years in a row, especially in a city with so many great pubs.
"In the last couple of years it has been fantastic to see more pubs trying out cider and perry, particularly in terms of stocking local cider, giving customers the opportunity to try something new and local.
"Our staff do an excellent job keeping up with all the weird and wonderful products we are sourcing, meaning our customers can always be recommended something new and exciting.  I hear last year's apple crop was very good and I'm sure many pubs will take advantage of this; I know we will be!".
The White Lion now goes up against The Railway Arms in Downham Market which was West Norfolk’s winner, and also  the Banham Barrel, Mid-Anglia’s cider pub of the year in the vote to find the overall Norfolk Cider Pub of the Year.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Norwich Beer Festival donations help NORLSAR buy new equipment

Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue (NORLSAR) attended the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA’s monthly meeting in January to show off some of the equipment purchased from the donations made during the 2012 Norwich Beer Festival.

A total of £3,500 was given to the voluntary organisation from unused tokens and cash donated during  the Beer Festival.   

The new items purchased have boosted the stock of equipment available for use in emergency  situations, as well as during search & rescue training exercises. They bought four radios, a  repeater to boast communication signals, rescue ropes, dry suits and search & rescue buoyancy aids for the team which were shown to the branch members, as well as half an  inflatable boat (the top section, which stayed in the Land Rover!).

The members present  agreed it was a fascinating talk and very rewarding to find out in more detail how the monies  raised in 2012 have been spent.

The group heard of the variety of situations NORLSAR get  involved in, how searches are organised and the importance of the new equipment.  

Paul Chamberlain of NORLSAR said that since being selected as Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA  branch’s charity in 2012, awareness of NORLSAR has noticeably risen which has been an  important factor in boosting funds, attracting more volunteers, enabling them to undertake more training and as a result, increase their expertise in lowland rescue work.

As a result, they have recently been involved in flood rescue training in Surrey and Ireland and they are now the only UK lowland rescue team recognised by DEFRA.

The organisation get minimal  costs covered (mainly just accommodation if required further afield) when they are called out  or put on standby, as they have been a number of times in the last few months alone due to  stormy weather and missing persons.

Visit the NORLSAR website for more information about the charity.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Best Bottled Beers in Norfolk announced

The Humpty Dumpty Brewery, of Reedham, are toasting success as their Broadland Sunrise was named Best Bottled Beer in Norfolk in January.

A year-long series of tastings by volunteers from the Norwich & Norfolk Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has culminated in the amber coloured bitter being chosen as the overall winner as well as winning the ‘bitter’ category. The beer is described as ‘well balanced and fruity with a dry, easy drinking finish’.

The brewery, opened in 1998, has won several awards over the years for its bottled and cask conditioned brewers. Humpty Dumpty celebrated its 15th anniversary by brewing a barley wine appropriately named ‘15’.

This was entered into the ‘Barley Wine’ category and took the top prize. The judges commented that it was ‘rich and satisfying with banana toffee overtones’.

Norfolk Taste Panel chair Alan Edwards said: “In the three years we have been organising the competition we have seen a definite increase in the quality of the beers entered. The final results were delayed because we started late due to CAMRA’s national AGM being held in Norwich in 2013.

"That, plus a total of 43 beers from 12 of Norfolk’s 30 plus breweries had to be tasted, meant it took a long time to complete the competition”.

Alan continued: “I would like to thank the breweries for their support and my fellow tasters for their unfailing enthusiasm and dedication to tasting beer. The campaign is a strong supporter of Real Ale in a Bottle (RAIB) as the next best thing to drinking cask beer in a pub”.

A full list of results, along with the contact details of the winning breweries, is below.