The best real ale pubs in Norfolk – according to CAMRA 

The Rose and Crown pub in Harpley.

The Rose and Crown pub in Harpley - Credit: Beverly Rogers

Hundreds of beers are brewed in East Anglia- lots of them available to buy at independent retailers, to enjoy at home. 

But surely the ultimate way to sample the delights of our breweries is by visiting one of the many excellent pubs and tap rooms scattered across the region? 

We asked members of the Norwich and District Branch of CAMRA to tell give us their recommendations for finding that, not so elusive, best pint. 
All of them are former CAMRA Pub of the Year winners. 

The Lion at Thurne is launching a takeaway service and has created bike racks out of pallets Picture

The Lion at Thurne - Credit: Archant

The Lion Inn, Thurne 

This is a large country pub close to the river Ant and ideal for visiting if you’re mooring nearby on the Broads (there’s a superb, large pub garden). It’s owned by the same folk who have the White Horse at Neatishead, and claims to offer the biggest range of beers, lagers and ciders in the Broads, including the White Horse’s Pell & Co brand. Recent guest kegs have included Vocation Heart and Soul, Beavertown Gamma Ray, and Thornbridge Jaipur. Not sure what you fancy? Beer and cider flights are available. For something a bit different, book one of the greenhouses for indoor/outdoor dining. 

Old Kings Head, Brockdish 

A charming, family-friendly 16th century inn serving top class pizzas made with the highest quality ingredients, from authentic Italian flour, to organic Italian tomatoes. There’s an excellent selection of real ales at the bar, with regular casks including Adnams Broadside and Southwold Bitter, and Wolf Golden Jackal. You’ll also find more than 150 gins to sample, alongside a range of other premium spirits. 

Leopard, Norwich 

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The Leopard is a cool, popular city spot with a prominent corner position at the end of Bull Close Road. The pub has four cask ales and eight draught craft beers on tap at any one time, supplemented by a huge array of bottled and canned brews, including the likes of Atom Quantum State, Brew York’s Lupu Lion and Buxton Far Skyline. Street food traders pop-up regularly selling high quality snacks, but you can also bring in your own takeaway. 

Rose & Crown, Harpley 

A really lovely inn close to the north Norfolk coast. The Rose & Crown usually has around five real ales sourced from around Norfolk available, alongside small batch craft lagers. It’s a wonderful spot to enjoy a bite to eat too, with the chefs using seasonal, artisanal local ingredients to make everything from scratch – from bread to pasta. 

Hop In, North Walsham 

A teeny tiny pub – in fact, Norfolk’s only micropub (if you don’t include Sir Toby’s on Norwich Market, and The Malt & Mardle). It’s run by very keen CAMRA members and serves around seven real ales by gravity, as well as wine, real cider and bottled beers. Recent drops have included Ampersand Coffee Brown, Green Jack Mandarina and Barsham Golden Close. 

Tombstone Saloon, Great Yarmouth 

Step into the old Wild West style saloon attached to Tombstone Brewery, and try up to six of their own beers alongside others from local brewers. Their brews include Tombstone Ale, Gunslinger and Regulators – check out the fun Western-themed bar clips. Whisky enthusiasts will also find a selection of 20 or so single malts from around the world here. 

The King's Arms, Shouldham. Photo: Shouldham parish council

The King's Arms, Shouldham - Credit: Shouldham parish council

The Kings Arms, Shouldham 

A monthly pop-up café, quizzes and live music are regular fixtures at this family and dog-friendly inn – west Norfolk’s first community-owned pub. It’s won West Suffolk CAMRA’s Pub of the Year multiple times for its friendly atmosphere, and real ales, served fresh from the cask. There’s a very large pub garden to enjoy a pint in. And the food is traditional pub fare, made with care. 

The Angel Inn, Larling  

The beamed, low-ceilinged, 30s style bar at The Angel offers around five well-kept real ales at the pump – and has a great selection of spirits, including whisky from nearby St George’s Distillery on optic. Grab a bar snack alongside your pint – from generously sized homemade Scotch eggs to homemade sausage rolls, or book a table in the dining room where you can feast on local beer battered fish of the day, or homemade steak and ale pie. If you feel more comfortable outside, there’s a beer garden with a pergola and marquee. Camping onsite is available from spring. 

What is CAMRA? 

CAMRA has a community of over 192,000 members from all walks of life and welcomes new members all the time. Members have been campaigning for pubs, pints and people since 1971. Volunteers can get involved in the committee, beer festivals and organising committees, with specialist roles and opportunities to train for employment and gain work experience. But mostly it is about having fun, whilst protecting local beers and breweries.  Most branches run a full calendar of social events, sometimes including organised pub crawls, coach trips and events. CAMRA members also benefit from having free or reduced entry to any of the 180 CAMRA beer festivals each year, including Norwich Beer Festival and Bury St Edmunds Beer Festival. 

Each area of the country has its own CAMRA branch, with seven branches across Norfolk and Suffolk, all run by local volunteers, with local magazines - Norfolk Nips and Last Orders - featuring news from local pubs and breweries, details of upcoming festivals and social events, and articles from around the world of beer. 

Norwich Beer Festival is one of the biggest in the country and each year attracts 18,000 visitors from the UK and beyond. The 44th festival is taking place this October at The Halls in Norwich and will once again feature hundreds of real ales, ciders, perries and world beers. 

Campaigning is what CAMRA does best and has achieved so much in 50 years to secure the long-term future for quality real ale and cider, which is now readily available across the UK. To join, visit camra.org.uk/join/ and view your local branch website and social media for up-to-date social events.