Norfolk – the craft beer county
The growth in popularity and choice when it comes to craft beer in Norfolk is astonishing. In just a few years the market for craft beer has exploded and Norfolk has been at the epicentre of growth.
A brewing powerhouse
It was in 2015 that the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that Britain had become a “brewing powerhouse”. New breweries were popping up across the UK every day. Luckily for us, many of those great breweries have opened here in Norfolk.
Why this has come about is simple. The county is home to many of the ingredients needed for craft beer. Norfolk has great growing conditions for malt barley. There are the correct soil types. There is the sea mist, which plays its own alchemistic part in the process. And Norfolk water is said to be perfect for the brewing process.
The not-so-secret ingredient in craft beer
And this last point is particularly important. Water is not only the single largest component of beer, it also has a huge impact on fermentation and taste. Some of the local microbreweries have even got their own boreholes and wells so they can make the most of their own unique flavour.
And it’s not just the tangible ingredients that makes Norfolk beer so good. As the founder of the Norfolk Brewhouse, David Holliday says: “We see time as a key ingredient in creating a quality beer. Yes, we understand that brewing is a craft. However, it is also a science and fermentation, maturation and flavour development are all given as much time as needed to get that ‘just right’ taste.”
With so much great beer at our fingertips, it is difficult to pick a favourite so we have listed a few for you to choose from, with a brief note about what makes each brewer special.
While Norfolk Brewhouse produces a range of quite exceptional ales and lagers, what sells this particular brand of beer for many is the naming of the beers. Each beer represents a traditional local name for the hare. So you will find Moongazer, StubbleStag, Jumper and Jigfoot – all names for the poses taken by the mystical creature that roams across the fields of Norfolk.
Malt Coast is a relatively new kid on the block but has fast become a favourite among craft beer drinkers. There are five beers in the Malt Coast stable – Pale Ale, Amber Ale, IPA, Black IPA and Farm Table Saison. Each has a unique flavour but the common factor is the quality of the local Maris Otter malting barley from the fields of North Norfolk. What makes these beers stand out – aside from the crisp clean flavour – is the beautiful bottle labels that depict the wide Norfolk skies over the rolling fields of gold.
The third brewery to feature here is Panther Brewery, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. The team at Panther, which brews it beers in Reepham, produce seven core beers and a number of small-batch brews. Golden Panther is the award-winning golden ale, while Red Panther and Black Panther both demonstrate the depth and complexity that beer can achieve. The USP for Panther has to be its wide range of distinctive beers – from the hard-hitting Beast of the East, which uses New Zealand hops to give added punch, through to the Dry Hopped Lager that marries perfectly to Spicy food.
This is a woefully quick look at a sector of Norfolk produce that is as rich, varied and unique as the county itself. We would love to hear your feedback on any Norfolk beers you try during your stay at Rookery Farm Barns.