The King’s Head, Norwich, Great Norfolk Pub Guide: ‘A ‘proper pub’ for which the phrase was invented’

Pork Pie from Samphire Farm Shop. Photo: Mustard.

Pork Pie from Samphire Farm Shop. Photo: Mustard. - Credit: Archant

No hot food. No music. No TV. No fruit machine. There's not even any gas to get the beers to the bar from the cellar…

Compared to most pubs, there's a lot that's NOT on the menu at the Magdalen Street King's Head. But compared to most pubs, there's a LOT more awards being won here too, so landlord Stephen George is clearly doing something very right indeed.

This year saw The King's Head win its third CAMRA City Pub of the Year in little over a decade. Every year this pub, almost hidden in plain down towards Anglia Square, takes its place in the Good Beer Guide too.

Mr George is proud of the platform his pub offers so many of Norfolk's microbreweries. Some of the best beers and breweries in the county are showcased at The King's Head – and the ever-changing offerings keep even the most discerning ale aficionado intrigued.

The King's Head has stood as a licensed premises for over 300 years but more recently it was a dilapidated biker's pub in desperate need of a gear change. Previous owners John Smith and Roland Coomber set about restoring the historic building to its former glory and Stephen George picked up where his predecessors left off when taking King's Head on in 2013.

The King's Head sign. Photo: Mustard.

The King's Head sign. Photo: Mustard. - Credit: Archant


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Today this pub survives and proudly thrives as a keg-free zone that is also determinedly free of the fancy food, flashing lights and televised sport so many of its competitors rely on.

Determined not to change a classic, Mr. George, who also owns the Humpty Dumpty Brewery has evolved this pub into a true community hub that prizes 'the old art of conversation.' The two small wood-floored bars hum with happy chatter – and there is a tangible, familial bond between the locals who all drink – but most importantly talk - here.

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It calls itself a traditional ale house but its look, feel, and even its smell – combined with its wonderful ale and atmosphere mark The King's Head out, in every sense, as a 'proper pub' for which the phrase was invented.

SIX OF THE BEST: Stephen George: Landlord, King's Head

Darren Eadie at the King's Head. Photo: Mustard.

Darren Eadie at the King's Head. Photo: Mustard. - Credit: Archant

1. When's the BEST time to visit your pub?

Football Saturday: two hours of quiet and then it all kicks off.

2.What's the BEST memory you have of your pub?

New Year's Eve – if you can call it a memory.

The bar at the The King's Head. Photo: Mustard.

The bar at the The King's Head. Photo: Mustard. - Credit: Archant

3.What's the BEST pint you serve?

Golden Triangle - Citropolis

4.What's the BEST dish on the menu?

We don't have a kitchen but you can get a cracking pork pie from Samphire Farm Shop

5.What's the BEST hangover cure known to Man?

A toasted cheese sandwich with mayonnaise.

6.And finally, what's the BEST pub in Norfolk (apart from yours)?

The Vine on Dove Street – small but perfectly formed.

Watch The Great Norfolk Pub Guide in association with Lacons on The Mustard Show this Friday (6:30pm on Mustard TV: Freeview Ch7 or Virgin Ch159).

Catch up on the whole series by searching 'Great Norfolk Pub Guide' on the Norfolk Now YouTube channel.

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