What is the secret behind Cromer’s latest beer?
Something is brewing in Cromer – for the first time in decades.
After flying from location to location across Norfolk and London as a “cuckoo” brewer, Martin Warren has finally come home to roost and created his first ale in his West Street base.
And the new brew has a taste of the Norfolk seaside town, after the hops were smoked at the fish smoking house at JWH Jonas on Chapel Street, which has been in business since 1840.
The result is Poppyland Brewery’s Smokehouse Porter, a new twist on an age-old style that is growing in popularity with real ale fans.
Mr Warren began producing brews earlier this year, using facilities at Elveden and Ickburgh, and producing collaborations with the Ole Slewfoot Brewing Company at North Walsham and Brew Wharf at Borough Market, London.
But now he has portable ‘Russian doll’ brewing equipment at his headquarters inside part of the old Allens Garage.
Mr Warren’s aim is to “explore what is possible in the world of beer” and to produce “small quantities of extraordinary ales that are unlike more widely available beers found in pubs and supermarkets”.
He said: “Following in the footsteps of the American home brewers and microbreweries Poppyland is experimental, innovative but, above all, fun and with a local twist.”
That local twist this time comes in the shape of the unusual approach of smoking malt and hops at the smokehouse owned by John and Frances Jonas on Chapel Street.
Mr Warren said: “The inside of the smokehouse is black and tarry after so many decades in continuous use but it produces succulent and tasty bloaters and kippers.
“In the past they have also done hams and even those most highly brined and smoked of all cured fish – the famous red herrings that would keep for a year.”
He added that, having brewed pale IPAs and Belgian saisons, Poppyland’s Smokehouse Porter was a “walk on the dark side”.
There are two versions of the ale. One is session strength at 3.8pc with a “smoky character” and a stronger variety has been made by blending a heavier ale to make a 5.5pc porter with more hops and chocolate flavours as well as smoke.
The new brew is available in 660ml bottles at the brewery, Cromer Farm Shop on Tucker Street or The Real Ale Shop, Branthill Farm.
See www.poppylandbeer.com or read Mr Warren’s blog at www.poppylandbrewer.blogspot.co.uk