BeerCast #72 – Norfolk Charms

BeerCast72a

Six months since we drew a line under the BeerCast’s podcasting days, our London crew got together and recorded a special edition for us. Following a recent trip to deepest East Anglia, four local beers from Norfolk were their inspiration. Firstly, the panel get to grips with Fox’s Drop of Real Norfolk (3.8%), before sampling the Norfolk Square Brewery’s Stiletto (4.5%). The third beer on the lineup was Wagtail’s 4.5% Ale-next-the-sea, before, fittingly perhaps, the podcast ends on Beeston’s Worth the Wait (4.2%). On the panel this time, London regulars Andy and Jess, Andrew, Nick and Francis, and debutante Fei – who becomes our 23rd BeerCaster. Cheers!

NB – Special honours go to Andy, as when he announces (in dulcet Midlothian tones), his score for Fox’s Drop of Real Norfolk, he gains the distinction of giving the 1,000th score in BeerCast history. Unfortunately, it’s not the regular 7 – but, anyway, who’d have thought we’d have made it to that milestone?

 

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1. Drop of Real Norfolk (3.8%)
Fox Brewery, Heacham, Norfolk.
500ml glass bottle

The Fox Brewery of Heacham began in 2002, brewing in the outbuildings of the Fox and Hounds pub. We’ve featured them before on the BeerCast – their Nelson’s Blood Bitter (dedicated to local son Lord Nelson) made it to our Norfolk roadtrip podcast of BeerCast #31. Clearly, they are proud to be associated with their home county – will our London-based panel pick this up, as they try a drop of real Norfolk?

What they say –
“Light bitter hoppy zingy and refreshing” (Tasting Notes – Real Ale Shop, Norfolk)

What we say –
Andrew – It’s flat in a good way, it’s designed for knocking back pints of – 8
Jess – Perfectly nice but not amazing – 7
Nick – It’s got a bit of a perfumey way about it, it’s quite fragrant –
Fei – It’s quite bitter, not keen on the aftertaste – 6
Andy – Quite drinkable, quite smooth, but no real personality – 6
Francis – They’ve used comic sans on the label, I can’t drink this – 6

 

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2. Stiletto (4.5%)
Norfolk Square Brewery, Stokesby, Norfolk.
500ml glass bottle

“Within our mind, deep in the recesses of our psyche there is an urge, a desire to brew the ultimate beer. That is what we strive for here at N²B.” So says the website of Stokesby’s Norfolk Square Brewery, or N²B. Located a few miles inland from Great Yarmouth, they arrived in their present location in 2011, having re-located from the coastal town. Brewing began in 2008, with the owners also operating a bottle shop, and contract brewing for the Norwich Bear Brewery.

What they say –
“Refreshing golden ale with a honey twist, a rich full bodied smooth flavour, a single shop brew with a citrus character” (Tasting Notes – Real Ale Shop, Norfolk)

What we say –
Andrew – Quite sharp on the sides of the tongue, quite refreshing – 7
Fei – I like the sharpness, the aftertaste is less bitter than Drop of Norfolk – 7
Francis – Drop of Norfolk was more exotic, but i could drink more of this one – 7
Andy – More drinkable because it’s less interesting – 5
Nick – I could drink more of this one – 5
Jess – I could drink less of this one – 5

 

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3. Ale-next-the-sea (4.5%)
Wagtail Brewery, Old Buckenham, Norfolk.
500ml glass bottle

Wagtail opened in March 2006 and only produce bottle conditioned beers made with Norfolk malts. In fact, they seem to concentrate almost fully on bottled beer, distributed throughout East Anglia. As with the Fox Brewery, Wagtail have also graced our podcasts past – King Tut Golden Ale was reviewed in BeerCast #19, all the way back in the summer of 2008. How will Ale-next-the-sea get on, all these years later?

What they say –
“Clean and crisp and bitter” (Tasting Notes – Real Ale Shop, Norfolk)

What we say –
Francis – Has real character, smoky character- 8
Jess – I like that smokiness – 8
Andrew – Smells like it’s been in a burning warehouse – 8
Nick – It tastes of smoke and caramel –
Fei – Usually I don’t like smoky alcohol but this is nice – 7
Andy – That’s a very smoky affair, like smoked cheese – 7

 

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4. Worth the wait (4.2%)
Beeston Brewery, Beeston, Norfolk.
500ml glass bottle

Beeston Brewery appeared on the Norfolk brewing scene in 2006, brewing in a renovated farm building. Their website describes an idyllic setting – “we overlook Beeston church and the tranquil valley beyond.” Environmental themes run strongly within Beeston’s operation – their water comes from nearby chalk beds, their barley is grown locally at Branthill Farm on the Holkham Estate. Everything that comes in is purchased through a local co-operative. Highly admirable – but will their commendable ethos come over in the beer?

What they say –
“A taste packed golden beer with a balance of hops to give a refreshing citrus hint” (Tasting Notes – Real Ale Shop, Norfolk)

What we say –
Andrew – Feels like it won’t give me a headache like Drop of Norfolk – 8
Fei – I like this one the best, better aftertaste, not as heavy –
Jess – Increasingly I don’t like this at all, it’s too sweet – 6
Nick – I can taste the bitterness but not the sweetness – 6
Francis – Most similar to Drop of Norfolk, I think Drop of Norfolk edges this one though – 6
Andy – Smells more hoppy, more flashy than Drop of Norfolk but not as much substance – 5

 

BeerCast panel verdict:
Wagtail Ale-next-the-sea 45½/60
Fox Brewery Drop of Real Norfolk 39½/60
Beeston Brewery Worth the wait 38½/60
Norfolk Square Stiletto 36/60

 

  • Listen to the episode on Soundcloud here:

 

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