Wednesday, 28 December 2016

It’s the most wonderful time… for a beer! - National Winter Ales Festival in Norwich

As organisers of Norwich Beer Festival, we are pleased to announce there is another chance to sample real ales in Norwich from across the country at the National Winter Ales Festival in February.

The Norwich & Norfolk branch has been awarded the National Winter Ale Festival (NWAF) by CAMRA, and will run from 21-25 February 2017 at the St Andrew's and Blackfriars' medieval friary halls – the home of the popular Norwich CAMRA Beer Festival.
The national festival will run for three consecutive years in Norwich.  There are no tickets for NWAF and admission is by payment on the door.  Tuesday 21 February is for CAMRA members only and will run from 5.30pm to 10.30pm (with a preview for Press and Trade in the afternoon).  All other days are open to members and non-members alike and opening times will be 12.00noon to 10.30pm 22-25 February.   

Alongside the February festival, the CAMRA branch will be organising The Fridge from Saturday to Saturday 18-25 February with special festival beers and events hosted across Norwich’s many pubs and brew houses.  Details will be available in participating pubs and on the NWAF Website.  For more information on NWAF visit

Rob Whitmore, the festival organiser, said: ‘We are proud to be hosting CAMRA’s National Winter Ale Festival here in Norwich and hope that both CAMRA members and non-members will enjoy the array of ales on offer.  There will be the darker ales, more traditionally associated with a Winter festival, plus a large variety of ruby and lighter hoppy ales, as well as perries and ciders’

As always at the national festival, the Champion Winter Beers of Britain will compete to find a winner is each category – Strong Milds/Old Ales, Porters, Stouts and Barley Wines/Strong Old Ales.  The overall winner will also be selected and announced at the festival.  Local entrants include Adnams, Cambridge Brew House, Green Jack and Milton.

Jenny Bach, Press Officer for Norwich CAMRA added: ‘With reduced or free entry to many local festivals, including NWAF, Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge, to name a few, might this be a good time to consider CAMRA membership? Current benefits include Wetherspoons vouchers and discounts with National Express, Merlin Group, Red Letter Days and many others, this might just be the perfect present to yourself!’

For more information on the festival, admission prices and The Fringe please visit the website

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Competition is launched early for the logo for Norwich Beer Festival 40th year

The annual competition has just been launched by members of the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) to find the new logo for the 40th Norwich Beer Festival, taking place from Monday 23th October until Saturday 28th October 2017.

The deadline for competition entrants is Monday 27th March 2017 and Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA are looking for designs to celebrate the 40th year of the festival, as well as depicting the familiar dragon.

• The logo competition has commenced early this year as the branch will be hosting the National Winter Ales Festival, running from Tuesday 21st February until Saturday 25th February 2017 and be held at the St Andrew's and Blackfriars' medieval friary halls.

The Norwich & Norfolk Branch has been awarded the National Winter Ale Festival by CAMRA and will run it for three consecutive years in Norwich.

Tickets for NWAF are only available on the door and opening times will be 5.30 pm to 10.30 pm on the 21st February and 12.00 noon until 10.30 pm 22nd - 25th February.
Alongside the February festival, the CAMRA branch will be organising a fringe festival from Saturday 18th until Saturday 25th  February with special festival events to be hosted across Norwich’s many pubs and brew houses.

For more information on NWAF visit

Launching the logo competition is one of the first tasks for the beer festival and the winning design will be one of the prime marketing tools for the festival and will be featured on the collectible festival glasses.

The members and volunteers can feel proud of another successful Beer Festival in 2016. Now the preparations for the popular annual event, which receives around 19,000 festival goers, can commence for 2017.

The festival’s team of organisers have already started to plan the 2017 October Beer Festival when 300 volunteers will come together again to launch the 40th Norwich Beer Festival.

Rob Derbridge, the festival organiser for 2016, said: ‘We are hopeful that we will receive an extra large number entries for our 40th beer festival. We always receive entries on various themes, although they must include a dragon in some form, but the entrants can choose a setting or background of their choice.

‘This year we are looking for entries which will also celebrate the 40th year. We always look forward to having a tough decision in selecting the successful winner’.

As always, the most important element is that a dragon must be included within the design, although abstract is acceptable, also a maximum five colours (four is preferable), including any black or white parts of the design.

The 2017 logo should also celebrate the 40th year of the Norwich Beer Festival.

Entrants are asked to specify "Adult" or "Under-18" and include their name, contact details and age (if under-18) on the back of the paper design or within the email.

The main winner will be judged by the organising committee at the planning and will receive £100 along with a selection of merchandising at the festival featuring their logo.  There will be two runner-up prizes of complementary festival tickets and also the best under-18 entrant will win a book voucher.

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

Entries (one per sheet or email and with a maximum size A4) can be sent to ‘2017 40th Norwich Beer Festival Logo Competition’, 4 Rectory Close, Newton Flotman, Norwich, Norfolk, NR15 1PZ or email to by Monday 27th March 2017 at the latest please. 

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

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Time is Running Out for Advance Tickets for the 39th Norwich Beer Festival

Advance tickets are selling fast for the six-day 2016 Norwich Beer Festival commencing 24th October and taking place at The Halls, Norwich.

Advance tickets are available until Friday 30th September via the festival ticket page.

The Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), who organise the annual festival, have announced that, though tickets are selling fast, there are still tickets for the popular Saturday evening session on 29th October.

The Saturday night promises to be a very entertaining evening with music from Invidia Voices and the Rock & Soul Choir playing in the early evening and the well-known local group, The Vagaband, playing into the night.

Advance tickets guarantee entrance for that session and give priority in the queue.  Those without a ticket are encouraged to come along and pay on the door as only a proportion of spaces for each session, including the Saturday evening, are sold in advance.

Craig Harmer, Deputy Beer Festival Organiser, commented: ‘Even without a ticket you will be able to gain entry to the festival, including Saturday night. Having a ticket means you avoid the English weather by having priority in the queue.

‘Many people assume Saturday is ticket-only, in fact you can join the queue just like any other session and pay cash on the door.  As always, CAMRA members have free entry by showing a valid membership card.’

Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA are also pleased to announce that their Featured Brewer at this year's Norwich Beer Festival, Tiny Rebel, has just won the UK Brewer of the Year at the International Beer Challenge.

Over 200 cask-conditioned Real Ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, along with festival specials, draught and bottled beers, local wines and over 40 real ciders and perries.  Gluten Free beers will be available in cask and bottles (subject to availability).

There is an excellent line-up of musicians playing in St Andrew’s Hall throughout the lunchtime and evening sessions.  Music-free sessions are on Tuesday evening and late Thursday evening.  The Blackfriars' Hall will be music free and seating is available in the Cloisters.

The festival also provides an exceptional range of refreshments and some fun games in the Blackfriars Hall where ales from local breweries are featured.  Door admission prices start from £1 for non-members for the Tuesday to Thursday lunchtimes.

For further information about the 2016 Norwich Beer Festival, please see our web pages, where you can find admission prices and can also print off a poster for your pin board.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Norwich Beer Festival preparations going well - advance tickets still available

Preparations are well under way now for the 39th Norwich Beer Festival to open on the 24th October and which will aim to provide an exceptional range of refreshments as ever.

The festival runs from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th October at The Halls (St Andrew's & Blackfriars' Halls) in central Norwich.

Over 200 cask-conditioned Real Ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, with a few festival specials as always, along with draught and bottled beers from Continental Europe and over 40 real ciders and perries, along with local wines.  Also Gluten Free beers will be available in cask and bottles (subject to availability).

Advance tickets for groups (a minimum of 2 for lunchtimes and 5 tickets for the evening sessions) are still available for the Monday, Tuesday and Saturday evening sessions plus the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtime sessions of the festival and are available online from the Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA website (via PayPal or a form to be posted) although cash admissions will be available on the door at every session.

For more details of buying tickets before Monday 26th September please visit the festival tickets page.

As always, CAMRA members have free entry with the presentation of a valid membership card.

Exciting music line-up to entertain at the 39th Norwich Beer Festival

A varied music line-up has been announced for the 2016 Norwich Beer Festival in October taking place at The Halls.

The Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), who organise the annual festival, have booked some exciting new acts to take to the St Andrew's Hall stage during the six-day festival which opens to the public on Monday 24th October at 5.30pm.

The changes to the music schedule are partly due to new technology used at the Halls with amplified music in the evenings.

Rob Derbridge, the 2016 Norwich Beer Festival Organiser, said: “a wide variety of entertainment is always appreciated by the thousands of visitors to the Norwich Beer Festival, however we are trying some new and varied acts this year, as well as allowing for some music-free sessions into the programme.  Also Blackfriars' Hall will be music free as in previous years”.

New bands for 2016 include Dove and Boweevil (Monday evening), Hushwing (Tuesday lunch) guitarist Tim Lane (Wednesday lunch), rock band Stone Cold Sober (Friday early evening) and popular Norwich band The Vagaband will the perform late Saturday evening slot and who are sure to keep the lively atmosphere going in St Andrew's Hall on the final evening session.

The legendary musician Dave Thomas returns again with his blues band to entertain during the busy, long Friday lunch session and father and son duo The Harvs will appear during the extended Saturday lunchtime session.

Norfolk band Sophie G and the Good Times who also appeared last year for the first time are returning to the Beer Festival for the early evening Thursday night.

The local Invidia Voices Rock & Soul Choir, who were the first choir to perform at the beer festival in 2015, will make their second appearance during the Saturday early evening session. 

The full entertainment schedule is:

Monday 24th October
Mid evening -- Dove & Boweevil (Blues Soul Roots)
Tuesday 25th October
Lunch -- Hushwing (Folk); Evening -- Music Free
Wednesday 26th October
Lunch -- Tim Lane (Guitarist); Early evening -- Hayley Moyses Britgrass Three; Late evening -- Vibe City Street Brass
Thursday 27th October
Lunch -- Dixie Mix Jazz; Early evening -- Sophie G & the Good Times; Late evening -- Music Free
Friday 28th October
Lunch -- Dave Thomas Band (Blues); Early evening -- Stone Cold Sober (Rock); Late evening -- Wherry Brass Band
Saturday 29th October
Lunch -- The Harvs (vocal); Early evening --  Invidia Voices, The Rock & Soul Choir; Late evening -- The Vagaband (Indie Roots Rock)

More information about the festival is available on the branch website.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Fat Cat Brewery Tap is the CAMRA Norfolk Pub of the Year

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, on Lawson Road, in Norwich, has been judged as the best pub in Norfolk for 2016 by members of the Norfolk branches of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale).

Following on from their success in winning the N&N CAMRA Pub of the Year, the Fat Cat Brewery Tap took the award for Norfolk Pub of the Year, winning by a whisker from the West Norfolk CAMRA entry, The Kings Arms, in Shouldham.

Laura Hedley-White, landlady of the Fat Cat Brewery Tap had this to say, “Both Mark and myself are blown away by the support and votes from CAMRA Members. We work hard in order to create a unique venue and by receiving another accolade from such a prestigious organisation such as CAMRA really does mean a lot to us and our team. To have people from another district of CAMRA come, try us out and vote for us really is an honour.

“Now we have, City, Norwich and Norfolk and Overall Norfolk Championship status we relish the next round and it has made us even more determined to deliver the best and most fun venue we can, whilst concentrating on serving even more delicious treats of a beery kind!”

The Norfolk Pub of the Year is judged  on various qualities such as Beer quality and CAMRA aims by branch volunteers. Norfolk Area organiser Martin Ward revealed, “It was an extremely close competition, both pubs are to be congratulated on the standards of beer quality, service and welcome they provided, along with the excellent impression they gave to the judges.”

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap will now go on to the next stage of the competition, in which they will go up against the following in the East Anglian Pub of the Year competition later in the year.

Bedfordshire - Black Lion, Leighton Buzzard
Cambridgeshire - Falcon, Huntingdon
Essex - Compasses, Great Totham
Hertfordshire - Half Moon, Hitchin
Suffolk - Stanford Arms, Lowestoft

Monday, 6 June 2016

2016 Norwich Beer Festival logo revealed

It was third time lucky for Richard Smith, a planning consultant at NPS Property Consultants, who lives on Trafford Road, in Norwich, to be successful with his design for the Norwich Beer Festival logo competition.
The Norwich & Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) are delighted to announce the winning entry for the 2016 Festival which runs from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th October at The Halls.
The winning logo will be widely used to promote the festival on souvenir glasses, pin badges and clothing.

Richard said “I'm really pleased to have won and it gives me a great excuse to spend even more time at the beer festival this year! The design was inspired by seeing and enjoying the rows and rows of real ales at the beer festival being served by the volunteers. I just wanted to do a simple design which showed a happy/merry dragon helping to pour a pint of real ale from one of the casks”.
The large number of entries to the annual competition were carefully considered and debated before the winner was chosen by the branch members at a recent Festival Planning meeting.
As always, the appeal of the various logo entries to the Norwich Beer Festival goers was the main topic, which is one of the largest CAMRA beer festivals in the country.
Rob Derbridge, Norwich Beer Festival Organiser, said Richard's design had a very colourful dragon, which is the only design requirement given to entrants, and was well balanced and an unusual shape. Richard wins £100, complimentary tickets to the festival and also a selection of merchandise including the glass featuring his logo.
Preparations have already started for the festival which will aim to provide an exceptional range of refreshments as ever. Over 200 cask-conditioned Real Ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, with a few festival specials as always, along with draught and bottled beers from Continental Europe and over 40 real ciders and perries.
The 2016 beer festival runs from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th October at St Andrew’s & Blackfriars’ Halls in Norwich.
For further information about the Norwich Beer Festival, please see our web page:

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Cavell Nurses Trust cheque presentation from 2015 Norwich Beer Festival

The cheque presentation of the donation of £1,144.61 from sales of the Edith Cavell real ale was made by Rob Derbridge, 38th Norwich Beer Festival Organiser on behalf of the Norwich & Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) to Cavell Nurses’ Trust on 21st February.  

Steven Moralee, Head of Trusts and Major Gifts at Cavell Nurses’ Trust, visited Wolf Brewery, Norfolk who brew Edith Cavell to receive the cheque and Steve said “We are extremely grateful to the Norfolk & Norwich CAMRA Branch for their donation from the sales of Edith Cavell ale at the 2015 Norwich beer festival.  The fact that the beer also came second in the Bitter category at the festival is a fantastic way to celebrate the life of this heroic nurse and support nurses who are facing hardship today.”

The annual beer festival was held in St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Halls in Norwich during the week commencing Monday 26th October 2015 and proved very popular again with around 19,000 festival attendees coming through the door during the eleven sessions with 576 pints of Wolf Brewery's Edith Cavell ale being drunk over the week.

Rob Derbridge said “Because 2015 was the 100th anniversary of nurse Edith Cavell's death, and also with our festival logo featuring Edith this year, we thought it was a great idea to help raise funds for the charity in Edith's name and support this charity.  We would like to thank the public for their support and our wonderful volunteers for raising awareness throughout the week”.

Preparations for the 39th Norwich Beer Festival, which will take place from Monday the 24th October 2016, have already started including holding the first round of the logo competition.  Further details of the festival will be announced in due course and, in the meantime, local companies interested in sponsorship opportunities at the Norwich Beer Festival can get in touch with the organisers now.

The photograph shows Rob Derbridge (left) presenting the cheque for £1,144.61 to Steven Moralee (right) at Wolf Brewery.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Fat Cat Brewery Tap laps up top honour

Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Pub of the Year 2016 Results

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap on Lawson Road in Norwich has been voted as best pub in the city for 2016 by the members of the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), as well as the 2016 Branch’s overall Pub of the Year.

It is the first time that Landlords Mark White and Laura Hedley-White has been awarded the Norwich & Norfolk branch’s prestigious title and when told the good news Mark said “Laura and I are so proud that our pub has been chosen to be Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA Pub of the year 2016.  Not only have we got amazing staff that run the pub as their own, but also brilliant customers that have supported us throughout the last 5 years.

"Our aim has always been simple; seek out the best and most innovative beers the UK has to offer, then, serve them in the most fun environment we can create. We would like to thank all those at Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA for their support and CAMRA members for voting for us.  We really are so chuffed!”.

The Norwich & Norfolk Pub of the Year is chosen from the winners of the Branch’s Rural and City Pubs of the Year.  The 2016 Rural Pub of the Year was won for the first time by The White Horse in Neatishead.

The Landlord, Ricky Malt said “In just under two years since we have opened, this is our proudest moment.  We think we have shown that you can be different and still be successful.  This is what we have dreamed of and are thankful to all our loyal customers”.

The fact that there are two new winners for 2016 shows the strength in depth of good pubs in Norfolk.  The runner-up in the rural competition was The Star in Lessingham and in the city Pub of the Year, second place was the big sister to the Fat Cat Tap, The Fat Cat on West End Street who have won the National CAMRA Pub of the Year twice before, and third was the King's Head on Magdalen Street.

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap now goes into a head-to-head with the West Norfolk branch’s winner, The Kings Arms in Shouldham, who have also won the top accolade for the first time this year, and possibly Mid Anglia’s winner if that is a pub in South Norfolk, with the victor progressing to the Regional level of the competition.

Ian Stamp, Pubs Officer for the Norwich and Norfolk Branch, said “It's great to have two first-time winners of our Pub of the Year competition, and both are cracking pubs!  Mark and Laura at the Fat Cat Tap show how a back-street local can shine in the right hands, with a huge range of real ales, ciders, foreign and 'craft' keg beers, plus regular live bands, an annual beer festival and superb cheese-boards.

"Ricky at the White Horse has taken a quiet village pub, on the verge of closure, and, following a doubtless expensive and sensitive renovation, turned it into a destination venue not just for locals, tourists and diners, with friendly staff and excellent meals, but also for beer drinkers, and a range of real ales and other craft beers which far surpasses expectations.

"Congratulations to both pubs and I wish The Fat Cat Tap luck in the future rounds of the competition!”.

The winners will be presented with their award certificates at the respective pubs in the near future.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

National Winter Ales Festival heads to Norwich for next three years.

Norwich has been named as the new venue for the Campaign For Real Ale's high profile National Winter Ale Festival.

After three successful years, organisers in Derby will be handing on the honour of hosting the national event, where the winner of the Winter Champion Beer of Britain is judged each year.

The event brings many thousands of visitors to the host city - keen to try hundreds of the best winter beers from across the UK.

NWAF will be moving to Norwich for the next three years, using St. Andrew's & Blackfriars' Halls (The Halls), which are currently home to the CAMRA Norwich Beer Festival; it is a beautiful venue with picturesque paintings dating from the 16th century of mayors, sheriffs and benefactors from the city forming part of the civic portrait collection.

Gillian Hough, festival organiser, said “The National Winter Ales Festival has been an honour for Derby to host and we wish Norwich well with the unique roller coaster which comes with organising a National Festival.”

The dates for the NWAF 2017 are 22nd–25th February.

Norwich and Norfolk Branch Chairman, Warren Wordsworth, commented: "This is a great honour and I am delighted that Norwich has been awarded as host such to a prestigious National CAMRA for the next three years.

"It will be a big boost for Norwich and hopefully it will add a lot to the local economy especially for the local brewers, pubs, hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in the locality and cement Norwich well and truly as a 'City of Ale'. I look forward to this festival coming to Norwich next year."

There was also a positive responce from our Branch Secretary and NWAF Organiser elect, Rob Whitmore, who was volunteering in Derby at NWAF 2016 and accepted the baton on behalf of Norwich and indeed CAMRA locally: "Today at the first day of the CAMRA NWAF in Derby, the baton to host this prestigious event was officially passed to Norwich!  The venue of choice will be of course the iconic medieval halls complex in Norwich, St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls and will be held in February for the following three years.

"It's a great honour to take this national event on and we hope this help cement Norwich as the UK's City of Ale.  Let's make this a great event for brewers, publicans and of course lovers of real ale from around the UK and maybe even the world!"

The Owl Sanctuary awarded Asset of Community Value status

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) received the good news  on 4th February 2016 that The Owl Sanctuary, Cattle Market Street, in Norwich, has been successfully listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) by Norwich City Council.

Neil Bowers, Pubs Protection Officer for the branch, said “We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone (2,500 people) who submitted an application for the pub to be listed. This took everyone within the branch by surprise and it was, and still remains, an unprecedented number. So from the branch we thank you for your support and hope you continue to support The Owl Sanctuary and the pubs within Norwich and the surrounding area".

There has been a pub on this site serving the community since 1845. Originally the brewers Steward, Patteson Finch & Co owned the pub but since 1945, the pub has been known under different names including The One and Only and Marquee at the Shirehall and then under the name The Owl Sanctuary from March 2014.

Since refurbishment and re-opening in 2014, The Owl Sanctuary developed a big following in the music scene and was supported by the huge number of people who either contacted the local CAMRA branch or Norwich City Council once the sale of the building and the closure of the pub as The Owl Sanctuary was announced, as a pub and a unique venue with an impressive list of genuine touring bands from around the world visiting.

As soon as a pub is nominated as an ACV, the owner must obtain planning permission to change it to any other use, or for instance, demolish it. Also if they want to sell the pub to anyone who wants to use it as anything other than a pub, e.g. Tesco or the Co-Op, the community will be given the chance to find someone to buy it as a pub.

The removal of permitted development rights is considered by CAMRA as vital to protect the future of public houses in the light of around 29 pubs closing a week.

The Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA have been focusing on ACVs in the last year and has successfully had ACVs granted by the respective council on over thirty pubs in the branch area such as the King Edward VII, Number 12 and Kimberley Arms in Norwich, the Nelson Head, Horsey and recently in Norwich, The Gatehouse on Dereham Road.

Also parish councils and community groups can nominate pubs for an ACV with such success as the Marlpit in Costessey and Blofield’s Kings Head.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Beer and Cider Awards Evening tickets now available

For the very first time, the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) will be presenting all the 2015 Beers of the Festival awards, along with the Norfolk Cask and Bottled Beers of the Year awards, at a single event which will take place on Friday 26th February 2016.

The event will be held in the Weston Room at Norwich Cathedral's (Church of England) The Hostry.

The winning breweries from the 2015 beer festival as well as Norfolk breweries, who won't know the results until the Awards evening, are advised to note the date in their diaries and further details along with tickets are now available via the branch website.

Also, in another first for the Norwich and Norfolk branch of CAMRA, a new beer competition to find the Champion Winter Beer of Norfolk has just been launched which is open to all Norfolk breweries who brew a Christmas or Winter beer.

Local brewers can put forward their beers to Alan Edwards, chairman of the local branch Tasting Panel (via email to

The winner will be chosen from the beer scores registered on the What Pub website, run by  national CAMRA which uses the National Beer Scoring Scheme (NBSS), before the end of February 2016.

The website encourages members to report on beer quality where ever they go and includes information on pub opening times, the beer available, a location map, nearby bus routes and the pub features and facilities.