Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Featured beers to ‘whet the appetite’ at the 40th Norwich Beer Festival!

Beverages from all over the world will be presented during the annual six-day CAMRA Beer Festival, commencing 23th October and taking place at The Halls in Norwich.

With some festival specials to mark the 40th year, there will also be select ales served from wooden casks.

Festival organisers have tracked down beers originally brewed for the first beer festival, though sadly not at 1977 prices!  These include Banks’s (Marstons) bitter and mild.

The bitter has a distinct Northdown dry hop character, with a subtle clove-like taste derived from the Tetley yeast, whilst the mild has a sweet finish with a touch of dark fruit.

Also at the 1977 festival and set to reappear in 2017 is Davenports’ Highgate Old, with its warming aroma and hints of chocolate, fruit, liquorice and malt, plus Davenports’ original best bitter, with fruity bitterness.

Also making reappearances are Fullers ESB (bursting with cherry and orange, with malty toffee and caramel), Holdens Black Country Bitter (with an assertive hop character), Hook Norton’s Coper Ale (a premium dark red beer) and Hooky Bitter, plus Marstons Bass and Courage Directors.

And included in the revisiting beers are McMullen’s AK and Country Bitter, together with Sherherd Neame’s Master Brew, Theakston’s Old Peculiar and Wells Eagle IPA.

CAMRA will be offering award-winning ales and this year’s Featured Brewer are Triple FFF from Hampshire who are celebrate their 20th year.  Graham Trott established the brewery in 1997 and in 2012 handed the reins over to Sara Carter.

Their Altons Pride, a Golden brown session bitter, full bodied with a hoppy aroma, was previously voted Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in CAMRA’s annual London beer festival.

Graham and Sara both started out as home brewers, and there will be a special treat for home brewers as visitors will be able to sample winners of the Great Anglian Brew Off.

Home brewers from across the region have been given the opportunity to launch their own beer for the 40th Norwich Beer Festival as part of a competition held prior to the festival with Anglian Craft Brewers in association with CAMRA. The winners were matched with local commercial brewers.

Noman, a dark stout with a velvet mouthfeel and roasted aftertaste is a recipe by home brewer Charlie Abbot and brewed with Elmtree Brewery.  Golden Triangle Brewery have brewed a recipe by John Watson called Mosaical Cheers, a mosaic pale ale.  Wildcraft Brewery are presenting Wild Moonshadow, a dark and lightly spiced mild with hints of chocolate, smoke & stone fruits, developed by homebrewer and beer sommelier Mark Cade.

Other beers to watch out for are Boudicca’s Red Queen, a red ale brewed in Norfolk for the Autumn with fruit, berries and hops, with a tangy fresh hop and crystal rye.

Also watch out for Moonshine’s Blackberry Saison, a fruity beer, and Norwich Fat Cat Brewery IPA with a full-bodied and fruity flavour and winner of the Champion Beer of Norfolk 2017. And you can try Hoxne’s Heritage Old Ale, a Suffolk brew with a rich winter-warm style.

Also to look out for are the speciality beers – Adnams Cucumber Sour, Cromarty Red Rocker, Dorking’s Smokestack Lightnin’, Elgood’s Fruit Lambic and Lambic, Hop Studio’s Hellebock, Hoxne’s Defender, Kent Brewery’s Cobnut, Mauldons Octoberfest, Triple FFF Comfortably Numb, XT’s Animal Dark Saison (a Black Saison with Wakatu and Pacific Gem Hops, dry and fruity flavours with a rich dark roast malt), All Day Brewing Green Hop and Black Purl (a traditional wormwood bittered beer, popular up until Dickensian times!), Elmtree’s Terra Firma, Grain’s Rye Pale, S&P’s Green Hop (made with Fuggles, Goldings and Prima Donna Hops grown at the brewery) and Norwich-based Fat Cat Brewery’s Honey (with crystal malts and Norfolk honey) and Farmhouse Pale (unfined Saison style, brewed with a hint of black pepper and dried limes).

Vegan beers, (those which do not use fish derivatives in the fining process), include Beeston’s Old Stoatwobbler and gluten-free beers are also available in cask.

Norwich Beer Festival has real ales from the South Coast of England to the highlands of Scotland. 2016 saw the introduction of KeyKeg beers and this year there will be some aged cask beer and the introduction of mead.

The 2017 festival will also offer 80 different varieties of cider and perries, mostly from East Anglia.

The World Beer Bar, managed by Cheryl Cade, has grown and now hosts almost every Trappist brewery in the world, including some new and aged Orval.

For more details, including the latest music line-up at the 2017 CAMRA Norwich Beer Festival, visit 

Friday, 13 October 2017

40th Norwich Beer Festival – Music Line-up

Here's the line-up of musical entertainment at this year's 40th Norwich Beer Festival:

Monday 23 October 2017
Monday evening: Hellesdon & Sprowston Brass Band
Back again for the 2017 Festival is the Hellesdon and Sprowston brass band!  Formed in 2005 with the merger of the former Sprowston Brass Band and the Enterprise Band, resulting in the creation of a Band that is proud of their multiple years of experience and libraries. The former Sprowston Band was created from the old Lads Club Band in Norwich from the 1950s!

Tuesday 24 October 2017
Tuesday lunchtime: Dixie Mix Jazz Band
Headed by cornetist Simon Nelson, Dixie Mix bring together many of the region’s best jazz players. Their talent, knowledge & enthusiasm for traditional jazz has led them to become East Anglia’s hottest Dixieland jazz band. Dixieland is a style of jazz developed in New Orleans at the start of the 20th century. (Just try not to destroy the double bass this year?)
Tuesday evening: music-free session

Wednesday 25 October 2017
Wednesday lunchtime:  Klezmerised  
New for 2017 are a four-piece band, from Norwich and the band title says it all! Klezmerised will be playing a wide selection of Klezmer and Balkan music from eastern Europe.
Wednesday early evening:  John Ward Band
The John Ward band will be delighting visitors to the 40th Festival on the Wednesday early evening. John Ward turned to folk and acoustic music in the mid 80s and, by 1988 had become a full-time songwriter and musician on the folk and roots music scene. Since then, he has performed in countless venues in the UK and overseas and has guested on numerous radio shows and on British television. He has released 7 albums and has published a book entitled the Iron Bridge. The John Ward Band creates a rich sound, full of harmonies. The music might be described as 'folk rock' though is hard to label due to the musicians’ versatility and John's eclectic repertoire.
Wednesday late evening: Hayley Moyses Britgrass Three
The Hayley Moyses Britgrass Three is an innovative three-piece of Norfolk musicians playing a wide range of material from old pop classics to songs plucked from contemporary charts mixed with classic bluegrass breakdowns. They seem to straddle several musical styles with three part harmonies, guitar, fiddle, banjos & mandolin.

Thursday 27 October 2017
Thursday lunch: Hushwing
Hushwing was formed in 2014 to celebrate, Norfolk folk singer, Walter Pardon's 100th birthday. They have since played at numerous local celebrations, pubs and festivals and for the Mid Norfolk Railway Folk Dance Train each year and have produced a couple of CDs and are currently working on 'Foundlings' - a collection of hitherto largely unknown Norfolk tunes. Hushwing play only tunes from Norfolk, from people like Walter Bulwer, Harry Cox, Billy Bennington, Billy Cooper and Herbert Smith. Hushwing is a Norfolk dialect word for a Barn Owl.
Thursday early evening: The Harvs
The Harvs are a father and son duo. They generally like much the same things and approach harmonies in a spookily similar way whilst one plays mandolin and the other plays guitar.  They love to sing and to have a good laugh and they like hecklers, so get your sing-along and heckling voices at the ready!
Thursday late evening: Cawston Brass Band
Formed way back in 1886, originally named Cawston & District Silver Prize Band, they first rehearsed above the Bell Inn in Cawston, Norfolk. To maintain a high standard, the band enjoys competing as well as concerts. Brass band contesting is not new thing. The band have won 176 prizes in 11 years and once secured 14 prizes in 4 days. They have made several appearances at Crystal Palace and they have risen to the 1st Section nationally. They are a favourite with visitors to Norwich Beer Festival, particularly for their Queen tributes.

Friday 27 October 2017
Friday lunchtime: Dave Thomas Band
Dave Thomas is entering the 50th year of his professional career and is the guitarist and bandleader of choice for many of the big blues names visiting from the U.S. He also has a number of critically acclaimed albums in his own right that are as varied as they are classy. If you have an interest in blues music that has a clear lineage from its 1950s and 60s roots then you owe it to yourself to check the Dave Thomas Band out.
Friday early evening: Punch House Band / Tim Lane
Probably best known as the composer & guitar player for the top local theatre company Crude Apache.  Tim Lane is a Norwich-based song-writer and composer, guitarist, singer and music technology addict who's been making music since he was a youngster. Pop along to the Festival on Friday night to enjoy The Punch House Band playing a mix of country, bluegrass, blues, folk and Americana.
Friday late evening:  The Good Times
Formed in 2013 as Sophie G and the Good Times, The Good Times are a professional UK party band, offering a dynamic selection of music for celebrations and events. They perform all around the country with a wide range of popular music from the 1950s to current chart hits. From Taylor Swift to T-Rex and from Adele’s Rolling In the Deep to Valerie by Amy Winehouse. In other words, if you are 18 to 80 they will have something in your era, well played and a lot of fun!

Saturday 28 October 2017
Saturday lunchtime: Blakeney Old Wild Rovers  
New for 2017, the Old Wild Rovers from Blakeney will be transporting you back in time during Saturday lunchtime. A Shanty and Folk band from the North Norfolk coast, the Old Wild Rovers started life some years ago over a few pints in a local pub. Since then they have organised and performed at many fundraising events, raising over £200,000 for charity, with their chorus of maritime songs, traditionally sung by sailors as they raised the mainsheet and set sail on their long journeys at sea, to humorous songs from the local area.
Saturday early evening: Invidia Voices
Invidia Voices are a big, strong and powerful sounding rock and soul choir in Norwich that allows all members to have fun whilst enjoying singing great hits from that past 5 decades, anything from Aretha to Queen, to Abba to Katy Perry and anything in between.  Invidia voices was born in 2012, when Matt Emerson decided to set up a choir for his students. He felt that many of the existing choirs lacked an emphasis on fun and wanted to bring back the social, enjoyable side to performing as part of a vocal group. The first sessions started off as the Carolling & Christmas Choir, which turned into a roaring success. As a result of the enthusiastic response from all involved, Matt and Alex Emmerson decided to turn the choir into a full-time group. By March of 2012, well over a hundred new members had signed up to join the newly named Invidia Voices Rock & Soul Choir.

On Saturday the festival will be open all day from 12noon with last entry at 9pm – no ticket is required and admission is only £3 on the door for non-members.

Bands will also soon be announced for the Great British Beer Festival Winter, which is hosted by Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA in Norwich at the Halls from 20th to 24th February 2018.  The festival, which offers beers of every season, shade and style,  and will have music nights on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This festival will stay in Norwich for 2019 before moving to a different CAMRA region. There will be free entry for CAMRA members. For more information see the Great British Beer Festival Winter website.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Home brewers present the 'Great Anglian Brew Off' winners at Norwich Beer Festival

Regional home brewers have battled to win the chance to launch their beer for the 40th Norwich Beer Festival.

The experienced home brewers were picked in a competition for members of the Anglian Craft Brewers in association with CAMRA.

The tasting panel chose the best beers in three strength categories.  The winners were then matched with local commercial breweries to produce the beers on a commercial scale.

At the festival visitors can judge the collaborative brews for themselves.  The brews will also be eligible for the Beer of the Festival award, along with all other festival beers.

The collaborative brews are:
Mosaical Cheers, a Mosaic pale ale, brewed by John Watson of Essex in association with Golden Triangle Brewery
Noman, Charles Abbott’s oatmeal stout, brewed in conjunction with Elmtree Beers
Wild Moonshadow, a specialist mild, brewed by Mark Cade with Wildcraft Brewery

John Watson recommends for any home brewer to get involved with their local homebrewing club. He added: ‘The thing I really love about home brewing is that I can create a beer recipe to suit my own taste, though occasionally I’ve ended up with something different to what was anticipated!’.

Charles Abbot described how he and his neighbour watched their local pub turn into a supermarket and decided to build their own, then they needed some beer, so they started their own home brewery.

Charles’ oatmeal stout is brewed with Maris Otter crystal and chocolate malts with roasted barley and flaked oats giving a velvet mouthfeel with a lush chocolate and roasted finish – suitable for vegans (no isinglass).

Mark Cade has been a CAMRA member since the late 80s but didn't get into home brewing until around 1999 when he was given home brewing apparatus for Christmas.

Mark commented: ‘It’s fair to say that home brewing has further developed my passion for beer, leading to my qualification as a beer sommelier and formation of our company the 'Thirst Consultants’.’

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Norwich Beer Festival celebrates its 40th year!

Norwich and Norfolk CAMRA is getting ready to celebrate the 40th year of the Norwich Beer Festival.

Real ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, along with ciders, perries, wines plus bottled and draught foreign beers. Special ales will be launched to mark the occasion and home brewers have been invited to take part.

Preparations are well under way now for the festival to open on the Monday 23rd October and will run until Saturday 28th October, with a few festival specials to celebrate the 40th year.

The Norwich Beer Festival in October takes place in the medieval halls known as St Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls. The Halls are a friary complex dating back to the 13th century, rebuilt in 1470 and Grade 1 listed. The friary survived the reformation as it was bought by the City Corporation for public use - an inspired and far-sighted decision!

The 40th Norwich Beer Festival offers a nostalgic appeal, with a range of beers served from wooden casks and some of the beers originally ordered for the first beer festival in 1977.

Festival organisers have tracked down beers originally brewed for the first beer festival, though festival organising committee member Martin Ward added ‘unfortunately not at 1977 prices!’.

When asked why the festival has been going from strength to strength, Martin commented: ‘We hit the mark and offer something for everyone, a social event with good quality ales, of a variety of styles, excellent entertainment, in a unique venue. It is attended every year by thousands of people and each year people return and bring their colleagues, partners, family and friends.’

Rob Derbridge, Norwich Beer Festival Organiser, explained that 2017 is the 40th Norwich Beer Festival, with the first festival in 1977, the festival then skipped a year in 1978 with the second festival held in 1979.

Rob commented that the organisers of that first festival probably had little idea of the success of the festival, currently with over 18,000 door admissions each year.

For those who have never experienced the festival, you can expect a vibrant evening with entertainment, games, food and beers. There is such a wide variety of beers, ciders, world beers and even wine, you can’t fail to find something you like! There are even gluten-free beers.

Quieter sessions tend to be at lunchtime and in the early half of the week as the festival builds to the popular Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Monday and Thursday evenings will feature a brass brand. Brass bands have become a popular feature at Norwich Beer Festival and the 40th celebration simply wouldn’t be the same without!

The performance will be fitting tribute to the start of the 40th Norwich Beer Festival. Bands will also play most lunchtimes and evenings, for the full line-up please visit the Norwich CAMRA website.

Music-free sessions in St Andrew’s Hall are on Tuesday evening and Wednesday lunchtime. On the busy weekend nights, visitors can still enjoy a quiet conversation in the marquee, cloisters and Blackfriars' Hall. There is also seating in the cloisters and marquee.

Opening times and prices, a map of where to find the Halls and a layout plan can all be found on the Norwich CAMRA website. The website also has a guide and will have beer and cider lists nearer to the opening date, so you can plan your visit beforehand.

On entrance to the halls visitors may purchase a festival glass and beer cards, as cash is not accepted at the bars, and remaining beer card tokens may be cashed-in at the end of the visit, or donated to charity.

The 2017 charity of the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch is Leeway. Established in 1974, Leeway is an independent charity providing support to adults, young people and children who are experiencing domestic abuse in Norfolk and Waveney. Every year the charity provides specialist support to over 8,000 adults, children and young people.

Craig Harmer, Deputy Beer Festival Organiser, explains: ‘We have adapted to demands with the addition of KeyKeg beers in 2016 and the introduction of mead this year’

The festival also benefits from a new fast track entry system which was introduced last year and speeds up entry, reducing queuing and waiting times.

Ian Stamp, Branch Chairman, expressed his thanks to the branch volunteer members and added: ‘the festival simply would not run without the dedication of all the volunteers. There is a lot of hard work which goes on behind the scenes, both during and on the run up to the festival, though not without plenty of fun and, of course, beer!’

Ian mentioned that the World Beer Bar has grown and will have a beer from almost every Trappist brewery in the world, with some new and aged Orval. He added that there will also be some aged cask beers at the festival.

This year, the festival will be open longer on Saturday 28th October, as there will be no break between the sessions and Saturday admission will be from 12noon until 9pm, with closing time at 9.30pm, with cash entry on the door (or with a limited number of advance tickets) or free admission with a valid CAMRA membership card. Entrance on Saturday is only £3 all day for non-members.

There will be a special treat for home brewers as they will be able to sample winners of the Great Anglian Brew Off. Home brewers from across the region have been given the opportunity to launch their own beer for the 40th Norwich Beer Festival as part of a competition held prior to the festival with Anglian Craft Brewers in association with CAMRA.

Norwich pubs will also be ready to host those visiting the festival from afar, with a real ales and ciders, including CAMRA’s 2017 award winners - the Kings Head in Magdalen Street, Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Lawson Road and the White Lion in Oak Street.

The selection of real ciders and perries has grown year on year, as the appeal for ciders has grown in recent years, with drinkers preferring a wide selection of flavours and styles.  This year the festival will offer 80 different varieties, mostly from East Anglia.

Over the four decades the festival has evolved from around 20 odd beers served on small tables in Blackfrairs' Hall in 1977, where the organisers visited breweries one by one requesting to buy beer for an unknown local festival. Now there are over 220 cask-conditioned real ales on sale and the organisers have reached capacity!

Festival goers may also vote on their favourite beer in the festival competition. You can vote for your festival beer using the voting form in the programme and the results should be announced at the end of the week before the festival finishes on Saturday.

Cash admissions will be available on the door at every session. As always, CAMRA members have free entry all week with the presentation of a valid membership card.

Free entrance to CAMRA members will also be extended to the week of the Great British Beer Festival Winter. The festival is hosted by Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA in Norwich at the Halls from 20th to 24th February 2018. The February festival, which offers beers of every season, shade and style, will then stay in Norwich for 2019 before moving to a different CAMRA region. For more information visit

For full information about Norwich Beer Festival visit the festival website.