Sunday 2 August 2015

Norfolk Part 2 - Norwich

I'd been looking forward to visiting Norwich ever since looking up the town on the handy Good Beer Guide mobile app, and was pleased and a little bewildered at the number of results returned. Arriving in the morning, The Lovely Jemma and  started the day by having a look around the market and a stroll around the shops in this charming little city, and soon it was time to get down to the serious business of enjoying a half in as many of the Good Beer Guide pubs as possible. We both started in The Murderers, handily located near the Primark. The interior was quite amusing with a smugglers cove look, and posters of infamous murderers dotted about. My half of Wolf Brewery Edith Cavell, named in tribute of the famous nurse was a floral, hoppy treat. I'm sure it's what she would have wanted her beer to taste like (maybe.)

After leaving TLJ to carry on her shopping and enjoy lunch with her mum at Zizzi, I headed on to the second pub. It nearly ruined my itinerary for the day as despite the GBG describing the pub as being on the "outskirts" of the city centre it was actually a good 20-30 minute walk before I arrived at The Fat Cat. Nestled on a suburban street corner this place is a CAMRA member wet dream of a pub come to life. Classic pub furnishings, plenty of real ales on handpump and gravity, and lots of little nooks and crannies to sit in. On a damp Tuesday afternoon there were a goodly amount of people in enjoying the ale and chat friendly atmosphere. The Fat Cat has their own brewery, although it's not based in this pub, and I tried a half of their Hell Cat. It was a hoppy, reliable sup, and I couldn't help but invest in one of their pork pies as well, which was very tasty and great value at £2.50, compared to the £4-5 I'd have to pay for a slice of decent pork pie in London. With the soggy weather outside I could have quite easily of camped in here for the rest of the day, but I had a helluva lot of other pubs to visit so I sadly moved on. I'd be happy to come back.

Next up was the The Alexandra Tavern, another street corner boozer nestled in a residential area a few minutes walk from The Fat Cat. An attractive pub inside, with a large horseshoe bar and comfortable seating areas on each side, there was also a nice selection of ales. Beers from the Chalk Hill Brewery seemed to be the house favourite and I tried the Tap, which sadly wasn't brilliant. It was lacking punch and tasted a tiny bit sour and tired. Settling down on a bench I noticed that there was a rather happy four legged fellow a few tables down catching forty winks. Judging from the size of him I thought he'd be more home at The Fat Cat. I gave him a little bit of fuss but he was too sleepy to notice. The pub was quiet and I enjoyed my half in peace, looking at the photos of the immense amount of charity work the landlord has done for the area. I could see this being a lively little local after work hours.

I started walking back to Norwich city centre, stopping in to the Earlham Arms as it was on the way. This large, imposing pub is tastefully decorated in greyish hues inside. Although there is a strong focus on food, I had missed the lunchtime rush and was able to enjoy a half in a quiet, relaxing pub. The half of Norfolk Kiwi from Jo C's Norfolk Ales was really rather good, and the food the punters on the table next to me were enjoying looked tasty as well. Service was friendly, and if this was the only pub in the nearby area it would be an excellent option, but with all the competition nearby this place was reliable if a little bit bland.

A ten minute walk later and I was back in Norfolk Town Centre, and on to a pub I was looking forward to visiting, The Plough. This boozer serves as the tap for the reliable Grain Brewery, and a full selection of their beers were available in this sparsely furnished, small two room pub. The serving area is awkwardly sprawled across the two serving areas, making it difficult to squeeze past even on this quiet Tuesday afternoon. I ended up having a half of the Best Bitter and it was an excellent example of the style, rich warm and comforting. With a pleasant beer garden and friendly service this was a more than capable pub despite the tight layout. Next up, down a side street near the market was The Vine, a small pub serving a nice selection of ales and a tasty looking Thai menu, although sadly I didn't get to try it. My half of Comet by Newby Wyke was a tasty, easy drinking ale, and generally this seemed to be a easy going pub, although I imagine it can get rather cosy during busy periods.

The last pub on my journey around Norwich was The Mash Tun, conveniently located near where I'd parked the car. Owned by trendy Norwich brewers Redwell, the place was done up in traditional craft bar style - exposed brick work, metallic surfaces, a BBQ menu and a absence of handpumps, but plenty of keg available. A wide range of Redwell beer was available, and the Pale Ale I enjoyed was a lovely hoppy treat, although it was delivered freezing cold which lessened the flavour initially. There didn't appear to be a lunchtime menu and the beer prices were high so I wasn't surprised to be the only punter in the pub. Sadly this meant the atmosphere was deathly dull, and the lady behind the bar looked like she wished she could be anywhere else. I couldn't blame her. I'd like to come back at a busier time as I didn't get an accurate feel for the place on my visit.

Norwich didn't let me down with the pubs, with an excellent and varied selection of boozers available catering to just about every taste, from old fashioned ale houses to trendy craft emporiums. I had a great time.

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