Saturday, 18 August 2018

CAMRA’s Norwich Winter Beer Festival from 19th February 2019

CAMRA invites festival lovers to enjoy ales-of-every-season at Norwich’s final Great British Beer Festival Winter from 19th February 2019!

Not to be confused with a festival for winter beers alone, this has beers of every style and shade, served in cask, KeyKeg and bottle - from dark to ruby brown and golden ales, plus world beers and real ciders.

After this final one in Norwich, the national event moves to a different location.

The festival runs from 19th-23rd February 2019 at St Andrew's and Blackfriars' stunning medieval friary halls, opening with a preview evening for CAMRA members only.

Martin Ward, organiser, commented: ‘2019 is the final chance to catch the February festival in the historic City of Norwich.’

Local pubs will also be getting involved in The Fringe which runs for the whole of February, with organised crawls and treasure trails, special events, competitions, featured brewers, all in the heart of Norwich. Visit

Jenny Bach, Publicity Officer added: ‘The February Fringe invites visitors to also enjoy the many characteristic real ale pubs, all in easy walking.’

The event has been likened to CAMRA’s national summer festival in London Olympia as ‘like it, but cosier!’.  There is also hot food and snacks served all day and live music most evenings.

As always at the event, the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition will be judged.  Local and national brewers will compete in each category and the winners and overall winner will be announced at the opening evening.  Competition ales, including winners, can be sampled by visitors in Blackfriars' Hall.

The chosen charity is the Benjamin Foundation and visitors are invited to donate cash and unspent tokens using the glasses stand box and collection pots.

Entrance is cash-only on the door, is free to CAMRA members and is open from midday all day Wednesday to Saturday.  Pre-event ticket packages, including beer tokens and souvenir glasses, can be secured.

For ticket packages or more information on the Festival and February Fringe visit

Monday, 13 August 2018

Norwich Beer Festival is returning in October!

Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA get ready for the October beer festival, now in its 41st year.

Real ales from Britain's independent brewers will be on sale, along with ciders, perries, wines, bottled and draught beers.

The festival runs from Monday 22 to Saturday 27 October 2018 and will also be launching a new bar showcasing over 40 beers never before featured at the festival.  With a limited supply of each beer, it promises to offer some interesting flavours and new delights to real ale lovers. 

The Norwich Beer Festival takes place in the medieval 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.

When asked why the festival has been going from strength to strength, festival organiser Craig Harmer commented: ‘We appeal to the ale-lover but also offer something for everyone.  It doesn’t stop at cask ales, we have a world beer bar and craft keykeg beers, a bar dedicated to perries and ciders, with over 80 to choose from and several wines too, plus hot food, snacks and live music.’

Craig added that Saturday is a good day to visit the festival as it is open all day from midday with last entrance at 9pm and it is also not busy so you can usually just walk straight in at any time.

There is also a limited number of advance tickets if you want to guarantee entrance which are on sale now from the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA website, this can be especially useful if arriving separately but meeting up as a group.

Some people have commented that the festival is so successful it attracts long queues.  To this Martin Ward, committee member, replied: ‘Gone are the days of waiting for a long time in a queue.  We now have a fast-track queue system and everyone is surprised how quickly they enter the Halls and are able to purchase their glass and tokens, even on the busier Friday and Thursday.’

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.

Brass bands have become a popular feature at Norwich Beer Festival and local bands will also play most lunchtimes and evenings, for the full line-up please visit the Norwich & Norfolk 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 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 2018 charity of the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch is Headway, Norfolk and Waveney’s brain injury charity.  They promote independence and rehabilitation, providing information and support services directly to those in need.

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.

Norwich city pubs will also be ready to host those visiting the festival from afar, with a real ales and ciders, including CAMRA’s 2018 award winners – The Norfolk Lurcher (formerly the Ugly Bug), awarded rural pub of 2018; the Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Lawson Road awarded City Pub, Branch Pub and Norfolk Pub of the Year 2018 and the White Lion in Oak Street awarded Cider Pub of 2018.

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 Halls 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.

A varied music line-up will be announced shortly for the 2018 festival and Blackfriars will be a music-free area.

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.

For more information, beer lists and admission times and prices visit the Norwich Beer Festival web pages.