13 beers and ciders to look out for as Norwich Beer Festival returns

Norwich Beer Festival 2018 at St Andrew's Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Beer Festival 2018 at St Andrew's Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

For more than 40 years it has been the highlight of every real ale-lovers calendar and now it is back for its 42nd outing.

Norwich Beer Festival 2018 at St Andrew's Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich Beer Festival 2018 at St Andrew's Hall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The Norwich Beer Festival returns to St Andrew's Hall tomorrow, offering a multitude of malts and a host of hops for real ale and cider fans alike.

The ever-popular festival, which is organised by the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) gets under way at 5.30pm on Monday, October 21, running all week.

The event will serve more than 200 cask-conditioned ales and more than 70 ciders and perries from local, national and European breweries.

With such a selection, drafting your choices can prove something of a headache - so here's a baker's (or brewer's) dozen to look out for.

- From last year's champions: People's Brewery - Norfolk Cascade 4.5pc

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Haddiscoe-based The People's Brewery took away the prize for beer of the festival last year with its Thurlton Gold brew. While this particular ale is not returning, golden bitter with a citrus edge Norfolk Cascade makes the list, made from cascade hops.

- The one with the shortest journey: St Andrews - Brewhouse Fest Special 5.5pc

While the hundreds of ales on offer have come from far and wide, one brewery in particular faced a journey of mere metres to deliver its tastes to the festival. St Andrew's Brewhouse is just a stone's throw away from the festival and has four beers on show, including one specifically brewed for the event itself.

- A forager's special: Wildcraft - Wild Ride (GF) 5pc

The vast majority of ingredients for Buxton-based Wildcraft's beers are foraged for locally and gathered from friends and supporters. They have three beers at the festival including Wild Ride, a 5pc gluten-free dry-hopped Indian pale ale.

- The strongest one: Green Jack - Warthog 11pc

The heaviest one of the lot - on cask - is Lowestoft brewery Green Jack's Warthog. At a whopping 11pc ABV, this barley wine is a rare find - and not for the faint of heart.

- The one to get you purring: Fat Cat Brewery - Tropical Tom 4.1pc

The Fat Cat pub has been steeped with praise from CAMRA over the years, so it is no surprise to see a strong showing from its brewery again this year. Among its five beers to make the list is Tropical Tom, a 4.1pc fruity pale ale.

- A local one to get up your nose: Chalk Hill - Mustard IPA 5pc

Made by the brewery behind the Coach and Horses on Thorpe Road, Mustard IPA is an English-style IPA with a nod to the city's rich history in mustard-making. Features a golden honey nose with hints of lemon and spice on a malty backbone.

- One from the most prolific contributor: Hop Kettle - Patience 6.5pc

Swindon-based brewery Hop Kettle has contributed now fewer than eight beers to the list - and this one is appropriately named. Patience, a 6.5pc dark old ale features black treacle in the mix and has been given a full year to mature.

- An old Norfolk favourite: Wolf - Golden Jackal 3.7pc

Golden Jackal, from the Besthorpe-based Wolf Brewery, is one that needs little introduction to Norfolk ale-drinkers. This hoppy, thirst quenching session ale has been a frequent fixture in pubs and beer festivals across the county for years.

- A local one with a kick: Lacons - Chilli Nogg 6pc

Great Yarmouth brewery Lacons returns to the festival with five offerings this year. This is a twist on the brewery's Old Nogg, with a hint of chilli giving it an extra kick.

- One for the designated driver: Brentwood - Baobab Black Tea 0.1pc

Norwich Beer Festival offers a range of soft drinks for non-drinkers who still wish to come along, this incredibly low ABV offering is a happy compromise.

- Ruh-oh! A cartoon favourite: Bexar County - Scooby Doo 3.7pc

Named after the famously cowardly cartoon hound, Bexar County's Scooby Doo is a raspberry and vanilla wheat beer. Expect a sour taste.

- For the cider-lover: Burnards - Oaky Dokey 5.5pc

The Norwich Beer Festival is not just about ale, you know. The festival also has more than 70 ciders on offer, including this medium Norfolk cider, which is fermented in rum casks with a background of oak and vanilla.

- Or how about a perry? East Norfolk Cider Company - Romany Rose Perry 7pc

If apples don't float your boat, how about pears? Among the perries on offer is this Romany Rose, from the Scatby-based East Norfolk Cider Company.

While the festival will offer hundreds of brews over the week, not all of them will be available at any one time. A live list of which beers, ciders and perries are currently being served can be found on the Norfolk CAMRA website.

The Norwich Beer Festival opens on Monday at 5.30pm, with lunchtime and evening sessions until Saturday, October 26.