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GALLERY: 40 years of beer at St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Hall with Norwich Beer Festival

The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant

The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant

Archant

For four decades St Andrew’s and Blackfriars’ Hall has been the home of beer in Norwich with the annual CAMRA Norwich Beer Festival.

Norwich Beer Festival, October 28, 1980. Picture: Archant Norwich Beer Festival, October 28, 1980. Picture: Archant

In September 1977 the first ever festival was launched, and every autumn since, with the exception of 1978, thousands of people have thronged into the medieval halls to sample the best of the region’s ales, beers, ciders and perries.

When the 40th festival opens on Monday, October 23, organisers have tracked down beers which were served in the inaugural 1977 event.

The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant

Committee member Martin Ward said: “We offer something for everyone - a social event with good quality ales, of a variety of styles, excellent entertainment, in a unique venue. It is attended every year by thousands of people and each year people return and bring their colleagues, partners, family and friends.”

Last year 18,000 people attended the festival, and avid home brewers will be celebrated in 2017.

The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant The first Norwich Beer Festival, September 16, 1977. Picture: Archant

They have the opportunity to launch their own beer for the 40th Norwich Beer Festival as part of a competition with Anglian Craft Brewers in association with CAMRA.

Over four decades the festival has evolved from around 20 beers served on small tables in 1978, to over 220 real ales on sale and the organisers have now reached capacity.

Norwich Beer Festival, October 25, 1978. Picture: Archant Norwich Beer Festival, October 25, 1978. Picture: Archant

Norwich Beer Festival, October 28, 1980. Picture: Archant Norwich Beer Festival, October 28, 1980. Picture: Archant

Norwich Beer Festival. Pictured are Mr Macleod, left, and Colin Smith, assistant manager of the Reindeer pub, brewers of the winning beer at the festival. 25th October 1990 Norwich Beer Festival. Pictured are Mr Macleod, left, and Colin Smith, assistant manager of the Reindeer pub, brewers of the winning beer at the festival. 25th October 1990

Norwich Beer Festival. 28th October 1991 Norwich Beer Festival. 28th October 1991

Norwich Beer Festival. 28th October 1991 Norwich Beer Festival. 28th October 1991

Norwich Beer Festival 2015. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Norwich Beer Festival 2015. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Original Martin Ward gets ready for the Norwich Beer Festival.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY Original Martin Ward gets ready for the Norwich Beer Festival. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Craig Harmer, deputy beer festival organiser, said: “We have adapted to demands with the addition of a vast selection of ales, ciders and world beers and the introduction of key keg beers in 2016 and the introduction of mead this year’

Chairman Ian Stamp added: “The festival simply would not run without the dedication of all the volunteers. There is a lot of hard work which goes on behind the scenes, both during and on the run up to the festival, though not without plenty of fun.’

This year, the festival will be open longer on Saturday October 28, as there will be no break between the sessions and Saturday admission will be from midday until 9pm, with closing time at 9.30pm. Entrance on Saturday is £3 all day for non-members.

The 2017 charity of the Norwich & Norfolk CAMRA Branch is Leeway. Established in 1974, Leeway is an independent charity providing support to adults, young people and children who are experiencing domestic abuse in Norfolk and Waveney.

For more information visit norwichcamra.org.uk.

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