PHOTO GALLERY: Former Cromer Museum curator launches Poppyland Brewery

As a museum curator and geologist, Martin Warren always had an eye on the past.

Now he is making his own mark on history - after setting up the first brewery in Cromer for well over a century.

On Saturday Mr Warren proudly launched his first beer, Poppyland Pilot, as he joined the burgeoning ranks of Norfolk brewers.

It is the high point of a story that goes back more than 40 years, to when he made his first home-brew in his mother's bucket in their kitchen in 1969.

He said he had 'brewed on and off - mostly off' ever since, and was now able to turn a lifelong passion into a micro-brew business.


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Poppyland Brewery, which has been two years in the fermenting and maturing process while Mr Warren has been doing his research and background work, is based at the former Allens Garages building on West Street in Cromer.

The brewery is not quite in full working order, and Mr Warren has been operating as a 'cuckoo' brewer, using the facilities of Brendan Moore's Iceni Brewery at Ickburgh.

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Mr Warren, 60, was curator of Cromer Museum and previously Walsingham's Shirehall Museum for 20 years, but in 2010 a cost-cutting drive at Norfolk Museums Service resulted in his redundancy - after 32 years with the service.

At the time, he was approaching the end of an 18-year project to document all of the service's records.

He used the unexpected change to set up The Northfolk Project, which includes geology walks along north Norfolk's Ice Age coast, museums consultancy, training and the publication of books.

It now also includes Poppyland Brewery.

But it is not just another brewery, producing the standard range of bitter, stout, mild, IPA and blonde styles. For Mr Warren is going to produce about 200 bottles per batch of each of his brews - brews that will be premium ales.

His aim is to use unusual processes and ingredients to produce 'different and interesting' beers.

He said: 'People appreciate quality and they appreciate something that's rare and out of the ordinary. That's how I intend to make my beers.

'You can buy beer cheaply in the supermarkets, but it is not always memorable. I want my beers to be strong, flavoursome and to have an impact.'

He added: 'It is beer that's based in north Norfolk, using barley grown and malted in north Norfolk - plus the ingredients I can lay my hands on from anywhere in the world.'

Poppyland Pilot - priced at �5.99 per 660ml bottle - is a hoppy beer in the style of an IPA, using powerful American hops to 'conjure up aromas of an Oregon hop garden', and malted Maris Otter barley from Branthill Farm on the Holkham Estate.

Previous experimental ales have included one called Hot Rocks - so named because red-hot rocks were thrown into the mix during the brewing process.

And the next beer will be a saison - a pale beer using Belgian yeast - called Out of the Blue. It gets its name from the nature of his sudden redundancy, plus the fact that, in the 60s and 70s, Cromer's Seaside Special was called Out of the Blue.

? See www.northfolk.org.uk

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