“ Norfolk / England „
The biggest Beer festival in the area, now firmly a part of the Norwich social callendar. Lunchtime will see a deluge of office workers coming in for a very sneaky pint and then the officionadoes and beer monkeys will come out when the sun goes down.
It can be a rather overwelming sight when you first go in but it is really very simple to get a pint, or a half, of some very lovely beer. All the staff are vollunteers but will try their best to get you something that you will like.
I love the back bar best that serves all the local beers. If you find something you love there you are much more likely to find it in a local pub throughout the year. There are so many small breweries in Norfolk and Suffolk that the range on this little bar is astounding.
All in all it's an event not to be missed.
Norwich Beer Festival is an annual event held in Norwich, Norfolk, at St Andrew's Hall, not far from the Cathedral. The 2009 event will be the 32nd annual beer festival, and it seems to get bigger and better every year!
This year's event will be held in the last week of October 2009, but each year's event is usually held at the same sort of time. There are literally hundreds of different beers available for you to try, including stouts, milds, IPAs, as well as a range of real ciders. For those that prefer bottled beers, these are available, including a range of Belgian beers.
The festival opens all week, the most popular time being Saturday night. You are best to get tickets for this, alternatively on other nights (and at lunch times) you can just queue up outside for entry. Although the queues are quite long, it doesn't take too long to get in, as long as they have space inside!
Entry is just a few pounds, or free if you're a member of CAMRA. When you get inside and pay the entry fee, you can buy a glass which is usually specially branded for the event. You then also buy tokens, as the event is strictly non cash, to make serving times quicker. There will also be a free guide to all the beers which are available, usually quite a detailed guide which is very helpful.
You can choose between a pint glass or a half pint glass, and if at the end you want to return the glass, you get the money that you've paid for your glass back again. You can buy more tokens whenever you need throughout the night, and again, can get money back on those that you don't need, or alternatively, you can give the money to charity.
There is a special area for local beers, as the main hall consists of beers from all over the country, so there is definitely enough choice for everyone! You will find though that although the beers start off with being in order, towards the end of the week, some become unavailable, and it's harder to find the ones that you want.
If you want to try as many different ales as possible, you're best to opt for the half pints. These are nearly always half the points of a full pint, and it allows you to try twice the number of different ales as you go round, to find a new favourite.
It's not really a complaint, more just a sign of how much more popular that real cider is becoming, but over the last couple of years, the cider has entirely run out early. I understand that there are plans to make more cider available this year, so hopefully that won't happen again!
Food is available in the hall at the rear, which is reasonably priced, although some things seemed quite expensive, whilst some were better value. The food is good quality and helps break the gap between trying the different beers! There's also a stand doing sandwiches, roll, pies and sausage rolls if you prefer a small snack.
The staff at the event are nearly all volunteers, and they work really hard to help make the event a success. There's a really good mix of ages, men and women and all different types of people you could imagine at the beer festival, showing that ales do appeal to a wide range of people.
So if you're in Norwich in late October, definitely consider going to this event!
Well, if you like ales, then this is probably the place to go. When I'd just turned 18, I finally got the chance to go and I was very impressed. You go in and there are literally hundreds of real and local ales around. They aren't all local, but you find that the imported ones are a lot more expensive.
The way the buying works is that when you go in you pay, and you get a glass and some tokens. This is a bit of a sly move because you don't really know how much you're spending when you buy the half pints (which I'd recommend over pints as you get to try more different types).
It is set in a really large area, and as I've said there are many beers, but also several ciders. We are not talking Strongbow here however; these are the real (and very strong) ciders, which are all worth a shot.
I think that anyone who likes ales should give it a go, see how it is. It's a good experience, and I think it's important to support the local breweries rather than just having Fosters, John Smiths and the like.
The price to get in is normally around £1 at lunch time, perhaps £5 in the evenings. You normally end up spending around £2.50 per pint. You can also buy a 'starter pack' which is the normal thing to do, which will give you some tokens and a glass, which can be returned for a refund at the end, or you can keep it for a souvenir. I can't remember how much the glasses cost, but they are fairly reasonable, you can get half pint or full pint glasses.
If you go at a lunchtime, have a couple you can try it out, without spending a fortune, then if you like it, stay for a few more!