Norfolk World Tour 2010: The Beers and Ciders

Last week's Norfolk jaunt took me and my better half to topering venues old and new with a none-too-Reluctant Scoop or two. Here's the top ten highlights in no apparent order.

Humpty Dumpty - Wherryman's Way IPA

It may be brewed in sleepy Reedham but this IPA has USA stamped all over it. Caramalt gold with assertive levels of Target, Centennial and Simcoe, a bomber of 7.4% hopped gorgeousness was my first beer of the holiday and the one that left the most lasting impression. When a brewer hands you his beer, when you both sip and both smile, it feels darn fine. More about this beer in a Bottled Up feature soon.

Humpty Dumpty - Little Sharpie

Drank this with the brewer at his local, drank it by the river at one of England's remotest pubs, drank it again at the pub we stayed at later in the week. I've bought bottles to drink at home for whenever I want that relaxed Norfolk feeling. Little Sharpie is a GBBF-medal-winning bitter that proved time and again to be perfectly sessionable.

Crouch Vale Sonnet

I went to Yarmouth in search of local beer and found this instead. Magnificently pale, smooth citrics and just the Saaz-ish effect that I hoped the Sonnet hop was capable of delivering.

Adnams Spindrift

On our day trip to Suffolk, a bottle of this served at the Adnams Cellar and Kitchen store in Southwold was exactly what I needed on a hot day. Just enough wheat in there made for a refreshingly soft mouthfeel alongside delicate notes of oranges and lemons.

Grain Harvest Moon

My first visit to Grain's new Norwich pub, The Plough, was a highlight of the week. Harvest Moon was one of the reasons why - sweet malts, grassy hops, lemon edges and a slightly pine finish.

Wolf Golden Jackal

After a meandering riverside walk that had me crying out for a cool, calm, low-ABV beer, this was spot-on. A full fruity hop flavour with lingering bitterness.

Woodforde's Wherry

The very definition of Norfolk session bitter. Drinkable almost everywhere you find it, it really comes into its own at the Three Horseshoes in Warham where it's served on gravity from behind the bar. And it's borderline warm. And I swear it tastes all the better for it - like warm toffee apple with a subtle spicy dusting.

Fox IPA and Fox Branthill Pioneer

Having carped on before about how more cafés ought to serve local bottled beer, it was good to see just that in Norfolk. Fox brew a solid range of bottled beer; I found their robust, marmaladey IPA at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve and their dry, fudgy Branthill Pioneer in the Stables Café at Holkham Hall. Top marks to the latter for keeping the beer in the fridge - the IPA was still good but oozed everywhere like a warm, yeasty volcano. Both beers were accompanied by one of the finest pork pies in England, from Bray's Cottage.

Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder

Yes, I know it's from Suffolk. But it's my just-so cider; just dry enough, just refreshing enough. And there are times when a cask beer, no matter how clean-cut and calm-flavoured, just doesn't cut it. When only a crisp cider will do. And Aspall's does it perfectly.

Whin Hill Medium Sparking Cider

Once I've got a taste for cider, mind, it's hard to satiate that apple itch. A trip to Wells-next-the-Sea gives it a damn good scratch, though. In a hillside car park, you'll find cider nirvana. Jim Fergusson and Pete Lynn sell a range of carefully crafted ciders, perrys and apple juices that are made and sold on the premises. Their 'medium sparkling' is possibly the finest artisinal cider in the UK. It actually tastes apple-fleshy, it itches along and offers up just enough tartness to let you know what you're drinking.

There were plenty more besides, but they're the ones I'd keep an eye out for if you're Norfolk-Suffolk-bound. There'll be more tomorrow about the places where I drank them.


  1. The Grain pub, The Plough, is a really good pub. I must pay another visit.

  2. The HD beer sounds interesting - haven't they new owners these days? Hope so, as their beers were consistently bland a few years back and tasted of Nottingham ale yeast...

    It sounds interesting, but bittering with Target??? That alone almost puts me off; horrible tongue-stripping caustic bitterness is all this hop gives you and I'd never touch it with a barge pole. Also, we found that Centennials don't do a lot when used as dry-hops although Simcoes are simply one of the best hops in the world.

    If I see it, I'll give it a go.