Message from our Chairman

Award Winning Breweries 2018

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At the Norwich beer festival the Tombstone Brewery of Yarmouth won the Best Mild category with Stagecoach  (4.4% ABV).  The beer is described as smooth, dark and malty with a hint of liquorice.  The brewer is Paul Hodgson.

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At the same festival Yaarbrew based at Hickling, just out of our area by the width of a river, won the Silver Award in the Golden Ales category with their Citrus Gold which is described as a rich golden beer with a citrus balance. Sadly this brewery is now up for sale.

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In the CAMRA Champion Beers of East Anglia competition the Lacons Brewery of Yarmouth won a Silver award in the Barley Wines/Strong Old Ales Category with their Audit Ale (8%ABV) a dark copper barley wine with flavours of berry fruit wit spice. The finish smooth and sweet

And a Bronze award in the Golden Ales Category for their Affinity (4.8% ABV). Full bodied with a chestnut tint, complex passion fruit and lychee tartness leaps forward, followed by a balance of fruit and malt. The Brewer is Will Wood.

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Very great congratulations must go to them both. It is great to see such recognition of the Ales from East Norfolk.

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Patrick Smith

Chairman

East Norfolk CAMRA

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This is the second CAMRA branch that I have started. They were something like 40 years apart.
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I was the first and only Secretary of the ill-fated Yarmouth and Lowestoft branch in the 70’s. There the problem was not lack of interest in Real Ale but a failure of Norfolk and Suffolk to mix. Yes, and a certain enthusiastic naivety on our part. Somebody said to me that they put the Waveney and the Ouse there for a reason and that was to keep the North and the South Folk apart. So who were we to try and bring them together? Well we didn’t. We got a goodly number in Lowestoft and much the same in Yarmouth but they were never the same ones …. We were given a generous budget by both Ipswich and Norwich branches and we squandered it on advertising and promoting meetings but it could not continue and it didn’t.
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Nearly 40 years later and CAMRA has moved on. There is a successful branch in North East Suffolk and now East Norfolk has its own too.

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Following some preliminary conversations a meeting was held in early November 2016 at the Tombstone Saloon in Yarmouth to ascertain support. 20 People turned up and as we thought, a branch was formed.
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I had the honour of being elected as the first chairman. I suspect because I did not step backwards quickly enough. But we were pleased to have got underway. We had a Chairman and Secretary … what could go wrong? Well quite a lot actually. It has been a steep learning curve.

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Firstly, you can’t just start off like that as we had done 40 years ago.  It is a lot more complicated now. It took 10 months to be accepted as a sub-branch.

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So what have we been doing over the last 12 months ? WELL!

  • Our area finally was set from Horsey in the north down the Thurne river to Acle. Across to Reedham including Cantley. Yarmouth and Gorleston of course then south in Norfolk via Haddiscoe to Geldeston. If you live in this area then you are an East Norfolk CAMRA Member and your new blue membership card will confirm it..
  • We decided early that we needed a Logo to be recognised.  This was provided by approaching Yarmouth College who were happy to allow some of their students to work on our behalf. We offered a prize for the best that we were given. We were provided with 60 odd prototypes. This was won by a young lady and can be seen on this page.
  • We felt it important that we get about our area and have so far had Branch Meetings in 10 different pubs including at the Lion at West Somerton, The Rampant Horse at Freethorpe and the Bell at St Olaves.
  • We wanted to be seen and organised socials which took us to pubs around the area which would not normally have too many CAMRA members going to them. We felt it was important to spread the word. Posters were put up proclaiming the new branch but these were not very productive of new members.
  • We also started an excellent Website and were on Facebook to get the message out there. If you belong to a real ale pub and you have an event that you would like to show on our pages let us know and we will post it for you.
  • East Norfolk is a predominantly holiday area with 8 million visitors a year. Mostly in the summer. The Good Beer Guide is very important to us. In 2016 we had 5 pubs in the GBG. 2017 had 7. This year’s new one we have 11. In 2019 we are planning for 13 which brings us up to the Norfolk average. The increase is due as much to our members now knowing how to vote than an improvement in the pubs specifically.
  • Again Whatpub is available to be used as a guide for those not knowing our area. Our pubs were poorly served by it. We have instigated a systematic updating of the records.
  • Following the improvement of Whatpub we used this information and started “Ale Trails” which can be downloaded from the website recommending drinking routes in our area with details of each pub. These will be reviewed again before the summer to keep them up to date.
  • The Nips distribution in East Norfolk was very hit and miss. We have completely reorganised this and a lot of work has been put into making sure that not only do we reach all the pubs but they have folders too. Many of the places we deliver to in the summer have a vast take up of Nips because of their closeness to the holiday trade. We have to be aware of this and next year the number we will need will be double what we took last year.
  • The loss of local pubs has affected us just as it has everywhere else. Perhaps more than most as we are very much seasonal. Pubs that can make a living April-September and December have to be carried through the slack months. The appalling loss of “The last pub in the village” is deeply felt in communities. To that end our Pubs Officer has been very active in persuading local councils to recognise pubs as an “Asset of Community Value” (ACV). A great example of the process in action is at Filby where the Kings Arms, which already had an ACV on it, has now reopened after being shut for some time.  We have found that different councils take a different attitude to protecting pubs. Broadland and South Norfolk are happy to listen to the benefits a local pub brings. Unfortunately, Great Yarmouth Borough Council appear not to want to move until there are no pubs left. They have mostly turned down our applications. If you live in this area, then please let your local councillor know what you think. If you are worried about your pub, then contact us and we will help with an ACV application. It is not the only answer but it does help.
  • We have run several recruitment events. Notably at the Yarmouth Beer Festival and the Gorleston Cliff Top Gala. These have spread the word and gained us many new members. We recruited our oldest new member (90) and our youngest (25).
  • After 10 months of effort in August we were recognised as a sub-branch of the Norwich branch. It seemed like a lot of work to get there but it was worth it. I appreciate the kind help the Chairman of Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Ian Stamp gave us. It was, as I said earlier, a steep learning curve.

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For 2018 we have hopes of improving Whatpub further and a possible CAMRA beer fest in East Norfolk. More Ale Trails and possibly a Broadland Pub guide. Come to our meetings and socials and let us know what you think. You will find details of them in Whats Brewing or on our website. We always need people to get involved.

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Come, say hello and drink some real ale.

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Patrick Smith

Chairman

East Norfolk CAMRA