BeerCast #31 – Norfolk Roadtrip

Posted by on May 4, 2009 in BeerCasts, English Beer | One Comment

After our Hebridean Brewery showcase, we travel a few hundred miles south for our next BeerCast podcast, as we explore beers that come from East Anglia. Norfolk has more than a few breweries, and on a recent roadtrip there (with a hefty rail and bus trip thrown in) we sampled four local ales. Finding out whether it was worth the journey, our enlarged panel work their way through the Wolf Brewery’s Lavender Honey (4.0%), Humpty Dumpty’s Reedcutter (4.4%), Tipple’s Topper (4.5%), and finally Nelson’s Blood Bitter (5.1%) from the Fox Brewery. On the tasting panel this time are Shovels, Grooben, Richard, Andy and Jess. All of the beers were sourced from the enormous Beers of Europe, just outside Kings Lynn, along with a large amount for future BeerCasts. Watch this space…

1. Lavender Honey (4.0%abv)
The Wolf Brewery, Attleborough.
500ml glass bottle

Brewpubs really took off in the heady days of the 1980’s, and from the Reindeer in Norwich came owner Wolfe Witham. Moving up a scale, he opened the Wolf Brewery on the site of an old cider plant in the market town of Attleborough, in southern Norfolk. After a steady expansion over the next ten years they relocated to larger premises in Besthorpe. With six cask ales, six bottled and several seasonals, they are one of East Anglia’s steadiest producers. It was one of these seasonals we sampled – their honey beer is bottled between March and April.

What They Say“Honey infused with lavender from The Norfolk Lavender Company is added during the brewing process to give this beer a delicate yet more-ish flavour.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Jess – Not to honeyish, I really like it 8
Shovels – It’s decidedly moreish 7
Andy – A little thin for my taste 6
Grooben – Subtle honey, which is the best place for honey to be 6
Richard – It’s very weak, doesn’t taste of much 5

2. Reedcutter (4.4%abv)
Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Reedham.
500ml glass bottle

Humpty Dumpty are a smaller producer than Wolf, outputting 30 barrels a week from their base at Reedham – a village on the famed Broads of less than 1,000. They started in 1998 from the outbuildings of a pub before moving to a bigger site in 2001. They also operate an off-licence which sells their bottled beers alongside a range of imported Flemish ales. Next to the brewery is Pettitt’s Animal Adventure Park, so a decent day for all the family can be had. Humpty Dumpty produce beers ranging from a 3.8% session ale to a 9.2% barleywine. Reedcutter is a golden ale that honours a historically important East Anglian industry.

What They Say“A sweet, malty beer, golden hued with a gentle malt background. Smooth and full-bodied with a quick, gentle finish.” [Good Beer Guide]

What We Say
Richard – Zingy, hoppy, fruity – I like it 7
Shovels – It’s bitter, but then I’m a bitter man 6
Grooben – It doesn’t surprise me in any way 6
Jess – I just wouldn’t drink this 5
Andy – There’s something it’s just not telling you 5

3. Tipple’s Topper (4.5%abv)
Tipple’s Brewery, Acle.
500ml glass bottle

Another Norfolk market town with a brewery is Acle, midway between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. The Tipple’s brewery were launched in 2004 by ex-financial worker Jason Tipple, another homebrewer who took the leap into full-scale production. Initially helped by David Porter of the Porter Brewing Company (now of the Outstanding Brewery in Bury), Tipple’s have spread more into cask ales after initially concentrating on the bottled side of the market for website sales.

What They Say“Topper is a rich, traditional Stout that is amongst our finest offerings. Pour it into a glass and see why: The deep colour, with swirls of red and black; beckons. The strong aroma, full of complex chocolate and malt notes; tempts. And the flavour, wholly hearty and satisfying, with a long, distinct finish; harkens for another.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – Needs more chocolate to balance it out 5
Jess – They’ve burnt the coffee beans I think 5
Andy – I prefer Meantime’s Chocolate Stout 5
Grooben – I’ve never had as smokey and chocolatey a porter as this 4
Richard – This tastes like cold coffee 3

4. Nelson’s Blood Bitter (5.1%abv)
Fox Brewery, Heacham.
500ml glass bottle

Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, he of the Battle of Trafalgar, was born and raised in the small Norfolk village of Burnham Thorpe. Apparently he used to run down to the water as a boy and watch the boats sailing around – today there’s a pub in the village named The Lord Nelson in his honour. The Fox Brewery of nearby Heacham also produce something named after him – a rather interesting brew called Nelson’s Blood Bitter, combining their ale with the pub’s spiced rum. Another recent startup, they began in 2002 in the outbuildings of the Fox and Hounds, Heacham.

What They Say“A deep reddish orange coloured ale with a malty, yet spicy aroma of cough candy, cloves, cinnamon and liquorice. The taste is smooth sweet and malty with light, spicy flavours along with a rich molasses, rum-like taste.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Grooben – Definite vinegary undertones 5
Richard – I’m not sure how it won an award 5
Shovels – Good for a while, then you get a bit sick of it 5
Jess – Does it have flowers in it? 4
Andy – Malt, vinegar, rum – this is a bit of a George’s Marvellous Medicine 4

5. Morrissey Fox Blonde (4.5%abv)
Morrissey Fox Inns Ltd, Marton cum Grafton, North Yorkshire.
500ml glass bottle

…and a fifth BeerCast beer! Just as we were getting ready to call it a day, Mr Shovels whipped out a special final beer for us to try – Morrissey Fox Blonde Ale. A notable newcomer on the scene, this beer began when actor Neil Morrissey and chef Richard Fox attempted to start a brewery from scratch for a Channel 4 TV series called Neil’s Risky Business. This beer was the eventual result, and having been taken on by the behemoths of Tesco had recently been rebranded for charity as a Red Nose Beer, with 25p from each bottle going to the good cause. But is the much-hyped beer any good?

What They Say“We spent nearly a year developing the Blonde. It’s what we call a hybrid – somewhere between a lager and an ale. The aromatic fruity hops give it an amazing nose and the lager malts add to the unique flavour. A distinctive and individual beer that we’re very proud of.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Shovels – A lovely sweet, hoppy flavour 8
Jess – Smells of damp dishcloths but tastes very nice 8
Grooben – Shovels I applaud your taste 8
Richard – The vanilla might make it a bit sweet 7
Andy – I like it but it’s not bowling me over 7

BeerCast panel verdict
Morrissey Fox Blonde (38/50)
Lavender Honey (32/50)
Reedcutter (29/50)
Nelson’s Blood Bitter (23/50)
Tipple’s Topper (22/50)

Panellists – (from bottom right) Grooben, Shovels, Richard, Andy, Jess

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with our next podcast. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

1 Comment

  1. Ben Hawkins
    August 13, 2010

    hi i thought i would send you some links to The Lord Nelson in Reedham home of The Humpty Dumpty Brewery and the Reedham Riverside Beer Festival. Ther is more information about the 11 day beer festival at which has many Humpty Dumpty beers available.

    Thanks Ben

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