A long Easter weekend is a great time to get away somewhere different and find some new pubs and beers to drink, and being one not to shy away from a challenge, I hopped on a train and visited the historical city of Norwich.
I’ve heard good things about the city beer wise, and I’m glad to say I didn’t see a single pint of Green King (OK so a bit of snobbery there – I’m just not a fan of their beers).
I was actually in Norwich for three nights, as I had a 20 hour or so two day punk gig to attend, but of course there was still time on Friday night (and Sunday lunchtime it turned out) to visit a few pubs.
Research had not revealed a great deal craft beer wise (which is my usual target these days), so fresh off the train and hotel checked in I walked to the fairly new (ish) Norwich Tap House, which is both a craft beer bar and also off-license, with several fridges full of bottles and craft cans for take-away. The pub is a fairly standard wood floor / wood stools by the bar, few tables in the main bar room, with a little snug hidden at one end.
No food, but 20 taps of beer to choose from, as well as a large selection of wines (good wines too), and those bottles and cans. Local brewery Redwell features highly, with five of their beers on offer (three forms of larger and a pale/IPA). I had the White IPA, and it was pretty damn good. Both Redwillow beers on offer were also fantastic (Souless and Faithless), and I did come back on the Sunday and have a very fine Brew By Numbers 11-03 pale ale.
I had a flight of three 1/3rd pint beers to make sure I tried a good selection, and the lady behind the bar was very social, she loves her beers so could recommend her favourites. When I mentioned that I was trying to visit a few pubs that evening I was told to try and Kings Head (a proper local/real ale pub), and the Plasterers Arms, which I was told has interesting beers and great pizza. Those tips were followed up and I wasn’t disappointed.
I did return Sunday lunchtime – they aren’t normally open on Sundays, so be aware of that if you’re visiting the city – it wasn’t the only pub/restaurant I noticed was closed all day Sunday.
The Kings Head is a real ‘locals’ pub, and I was greeted in a friendly manner by said locals the second I stepped in the door – with some banter about me having only a half of ale. The beer was kept well, and if my memory is correct, the pub has several bar areas, with pool table/bar billards in their own room near the toilets.
I was starving, so didn’t hang about long, I went to find the Plasters Arms and the promised home made pizza. The pub was busy (but friendly), and almost the second I stepped in to take a stool at the bar did a set of locals start playing some pretty good traditional music on a table-full of instruments they had in front of them – I filmed a little bit so you can get the feel of the fantastic atmosphere of the pub. People were enjoying the (great) beer, food, and it was a very lively place to spend a couple of hours. The pizza is quite varied and very good – a decent sized pizza on a wooden board for about £8 (my memory isn’t 100% at this point in the evening!). The beers were going down a treat, with several changed during the couple of hours I was there.
The Siren / Collaboration with Omnipollo beer “Lifes a Peach” beer was especially good – a ‘cream’ IPA with added peaches. The cream being added lactose. Something really different and a highlight of my evening.
I also have to mention one other pub – the venue for the two day gig I was there for. It’s called “The Owl Sanctuary”, and it’s a place that’s really been turned around (from what I’ve been told by locals). It hosts many a night of music in it’s underground stage venue, and it also prides itself on usually having three real ales on, all priced at £3 no matter the strength. That’s pretty decent going for a ‘venue’, and the fact I enjoyed pints of Grain IPA (6.5%), and Thornbridge Jaipur (5.9%) both cask version for just £3 is fantastic. If you like your music (punk/rock) then this is a great place to seek out, as they seem to have bands on most weekends from the posters on the walls. It also has a pinball table – something very rare these days in pubs, and something I really miss!
Norwich tap house; 8 Redwell Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 4SN, United Kingdom
Kings Head freehouse; 42 Magdalen Street, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1JE
The Plasterers Arms; 43 Cowgate, Norwich, Norfolk NR3 1SZ
The Owl Sanctuary; 25 Cattle Market Street, Norwich, NR1 3DY