A Tour around some Norfolk pubs

Broadland SunriseLast week we took a trip to the Norfolk Broads. A lovely part of the world, incredibly rural with its narrow lanes, pretty villages, fields full of crops, and large open skies that go on for miles and miles. We took a boat out on the Broads, walked the nature trails, saw lots of wildlife including the magnificent marsh harrier, and, inevitably, ended up in lots of Broadland pubs. Here are the pubs we visited.

The Kings Arms, Ludham

The Kings Arms, Ludham

The Kings Arms, Ludham

This lively pub is situated in the centre of this pretty Broadland village. It’s a locals’ pub, newly refurbished with lots of light coloured wood, and has a large bar with a big TV screen (and I mean big, I have never seen a screen so big), a pool table round the corner, a proper dining room that still feels like it is part of the pub, and a large patio garden with a childrens’ play area with an enormous wooden construction they can climb all over. There is a good menu with lots of choice at a decent price and they serve great home cooked food (the veggie lasagne with Italian potatoes was wonderful). On the bar were a couple of Woodfordes Ales. The Wherry, 3.5%, wasn’t as great as I had hoped, with its wonderful hoppy flavours somewhat disguised and a hint of GK IPA about it, but the Nelson’s Revenge, 4.5%, was tastier and full bodied. A great pub and very friendly.

The Dog, Ludham

The Dog, Ludham Bridge

The Dog, Ludham Bridge

This pub is located at Ludham Bridge, about a 20 minute walk from the Kings Arms, and is frequented by both locals and boaters who moor up at the bridge on the River Ant. I like this pub, especially sitting outside taking in the view of the open fields across to Thurne Mill. It’s a shame they built a large wooden play area right in the line of sight of this view, but it hasn’t completely ruined the vista. On tap when we visited was Wolf Straw Dog, 4.5%, a wheat beer which tasted slightly cidery, and also Wherry, which also didn’t taste as wonderful as it should. This pub also has a campsite in an adjacent field, a great spot if you aren’t on sleeping a boat and want to sink a few beers.

The Brick Kilns, Little Plumstead

The Brick Kilns, Little Plumstead

The Brick Kilns, Little Plumstead

The interior of the Brick Kilns

The interior of the Brick Kilns

This pub caught our attention as we saw on a board outside that it offered vegetarian and vegan food. So we decided to stop off there for an evening meal. And it wasn’t a disappointment. Inside there were beams, exposed brickwork, open fireplaces, and lots of tables. The pub is over 400 years old and was so-called after the local practise of brick making.  I drank a lovely drop of Adnams Southwold Bitter, 4.1%, and there was also Adnams Explorer available at a stronger 5%. And as for the meal, my spicy veg stew was delicious. I was so stuffed afterwards though that I couldn’t move for a while. I found out later that their veggie and vegan menu was award-winning – and with 16 choices this was veggie heaven. You don’t come across places like this very often. Plus the staff were really friendly. I look forward to returning.

The Lord Nelson, Reedham

The Lord Nelson, Reedham

The Lord Nelson, Reedham

Facing the River Yare and a stone’s throw from the Reedham Ferry, this lovely old pub is in a great spot. There were still a few barrels left over from the beer festival that had finished a few days earlier, so we had a quick half of Long Hop at only 75p, and also some Leeeds Yorkshire Gold, 4.2%, on draft from the bar. The Long Hop was sour and past its best (after all, the beer fest had finished several days ago). But the Yorkshire Gold was absolutely gorgeous – zesty and floral with lingering strong hop flavours. Leeds brew some fantastic beers, and this is one I definitely want more of. The pub itself had a quaint interior and served very tasty looking food and I’m sure the rest of the beer on the bar was great. But it was time to move on.

The Fur and Feather, Woodbastwick

Fur and Feather, Woodbastwick

Fur and Feather, Woodbastwick

This is a restaurant and brewery tap for Woodfordes, with the brewery being housed in the barn behind. It’s a beautiful thatched pub in a pretty village with a lovely grassy beer garden, its tables covered in Woodfordes parasols, naturally. There is a lot of dark oak in the traditional and attractive bar area and the beer is poured from the taps or straight from barrels on the walls, and they have the full Woodforde’s range on sale. Woodfordes BeersI opted for a sunny Sundew,4.1%,
which was floral and hoppy, and was served with a lovely foamy head. Very moorish. Adam had some of the Mardlers Mild, 3.5%, which he enjoyed but then wished he’d gone for a Wherry seeing as we were in the perfect place for it. But as he was driving he wasn’t going to be drinking it there that day, poor thing. The traditional English menu is quite pricey, with a cauliflower cheese risotto going for £12, but they do pride themselves on their good food and consider themselves as more of a restaurant than a pub (I don’t; I go there for one reason alone, guess what). They also have a gift shop with books and bottles on sale, so I picked up some Sundew bottles and Adam got some Wherry, amongst other bottles, to drink later. So all was well.

Beer list

The New Inn, Horning

New Inn, Horning

New Inn, Horning

This large riverside pub is in the beautiful village of Horning where you can hire day boats or jump on one of the cruisers offering river trips along the Bure. It also has a great deli and café, and 2 other pubs, the Tudor-style Swan and the Ferry Inn. So an all-round great place. I didn’t spend long inside the New Inn to be honest, I just remember it looked very inviting with a lot of seating. I ordered a Wherry and drank it outside in the landscaped patio garden facing the river, a lovely spot. The Wherry, again, wasn’t as great as I know Wherry can be, which was slightly disappointing as I was in Norfolk, the home of Wherry! I was beginning to wish I had chosen Wherry in the Fur and Feather, just to prove my point that this lovely beer really is much tastier generally. Never mind. I soaked in the view and listened to the water lapping against the pontoon as the sun gradually became lower in the sky, the orange and yellow colours creating a bright shimmering layer behind the dark blue and grey clouds that were rapidly forming above us.

The Shed, Wroxham

Beers!Wow, this place. We had read about it before we visited and knew that it had 50 local beers on tap, but it still completely took us by surprise. This little bar is in an old boat shed (hence its name) and is so well hidden that I am surprised anyone ever finds it. It’s tucked away on the Peninsula in Wroxham, concealed next to boat yards, holiday flats and mooring stations. I asked why they didn’t do more to help people to find it, like putting up a useful sign for instance which would have prevented us from wandering backwards and forward around car parks and boat yards until we finally met a helpful local who walked us there!  But they said they aren’t allowed to put up signs in the area as it’s all private property. What a shame. But after 2 years in business they want to do more to advertise it now. The building is so cute, and the interior has an atmosphere of organised chaos with everything thrown together but  looks great, with lots of tables, sofas, a pool table, a decent juke box, TV screens, a library of books, fairy lights everywhere, and outdoor plastic tables plus a narrow pontoon terrace with sofas and tables. You’d have to be careful though after a few beers that you don’t fall in the water as there are no barriers, I am sure that happens quite a lot, or if not, why not?! Luckily it’s quite shallow in the Broads!

The Shed In the Shed The terrace Shed bitter

Sunshine Jiggle and Redwood

Sunshine Jiggle and Redwood

We didn’t know where to start with the beers. It was like a beer festival but with no tasting notes. I knew some of the breweries, such as Humpty Dumpty, Grain, Beestons,and Northcote, so I went for a nice Northcote Sunshine Jiggle, 4.3%, to start, light, hoppy and very drinkable. Adam had some Grain Redwood,4.8%, which soon became our favourite beer of the trip – red, malty, fruity, and sherbet and citrus hops – just delightful. In fact we consumed a little bit too much of the Redwood, and we loved it so much that we even took some away in a container. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff…

Some other great beers we had were the Shed Bitter, 3.7%, their wonderful house session beer brewed by Tipples in Acle just up the road, and was almost a light version of Redwood. The Northcote Jiggle Juice, 5.8%, was so very herby, grassy, and strong but pleasant. The Humpty Dumpty Broadland Sunrise, 4.2%, was its usual fantastically orange and hoppy self, and the Humpty Dumpty Nord Atlantic, 3.7%, by the same brewery, a beer brewed with Challenger and Target hops, was malty and citrussy. I also really liked Grain Oak, sampled last year at their pub (see below) and in a bottle, but so much tastier this time round, light and full of hops. A great brewery. But then it was time to catch the last bus back to the village. Rural life eh.

The Plough, Norwich

Redwood at the Plough

Redwood at the Plough

The Plough is the Grain Brewery’s pub. Situated in the city centre in a lovely old refurbished building with stripped wood, mirrors and candles, this pub naturally serves their own Grain beers. We had to go for the Redwood, the best beer these guys have brewed (and the manager in the Shed is also a great fan of it). On tap there was also the lovely Oak, plus about 5 others, all with their wonderful wooden pump clips. They have a very large patio plus a large grassy beer garden hidden away out the back, which really is unusual for a city centre pub, so this pub really is quite a find.

Grain beers

The Fat Cat Brewery Tap, Norwich

The Fat Cat, Norwich

The Fat Cat, Norwich

One of my favourite Norwich pubs, as mentioned before in a previous post. This award-winning pub is situated on the corner of a couple of terraced streets a short walk from the city centre. It has its own brewery and brews some amazing beer with a cat theme, such as Cougar, 4.7%, with its US hops, and Honey Cat, 4.3%, brewed with Norfolk honey. I enjoyed some Fat Cat Bitter, 3.8%, a proper session beer with its interesting smoky and spicy flavours. There are about 30 real ales on sale, as well as about 50 bottled beers from around the world. Beer BoardThe interior is traditional, with stained glass dividers between little alcoves and lots of pub memorabilia dotted around the walls. It’s always heaving in there; this was lunchtime and the crowd was only slightly shallower than it is in the evening. It’s great to see a pub tucked away on a quiet street having a roaring trade. We took away some bottles, one being Wild Cat, 5%, described as a hop monster, and another being Stout Cat, 4.6%, which really speaks for itself.

The Pleasureboat, Hickling

The Pleasure Boat, Hickling

The Pleasure Boat, Hickling

This pub is situated next to Hickling Broad. I had a lovely drop of Everards Tiger, 4.5%, and told the landlady that it was the best Tiger I had ever tasted. The Tram Depot in Cambridge has this beer on tap but the Tram serves their beers with sparklers and it detracts from the taste in my opinion (and I know there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me, especially those from up North, so let’s agree to disagree, OK!) It was fruity, malty, full of strong hop flavours and full bodied. Delicious. The pub has a restaurant and the relatively new owners said they are working on increasing their vegetarian range. We took a seat outside by the moored up boats and drank our beer – lovely spot and nice staff.

The Greyhound, Hickling

This place became my new favourite pub. I loved it. A village pub that looks pretty upmarket and posh from the outside, but it’s  deceiving – it’s a proper pub on the inside, with loads of seating for drinkers, a pub-style restaurant but not too fancy, and a very friendly barman. The usuals were on tap, such as GK IPA, Wherry, Ruddles, etc. It has a pretty garden, fairy lights and proper pub grub. Everything a pub should be. It’s great that a little village like Hickling has two very nice thriving pubs.

The Greyhound by day

The Greyhound by day

The Greyhound by night

The Greyhound by night

The Ingham Swan, Ingham

The ingham Swan

The Ingham Swan

We had been to the Ingham Swan before, and it was slightly on the gastro-pub side then but comfortable and welcoming to those drinking. Not that it wasn’t welcoming this time, but it had certainly changed a lot. It’s an absolutely beautiful pub with exposed beams and stonework, it’s ancient, but every single table was decked out for diners. There was a couple of sofas near the bar for drinkers, but that was it. So it’s definitely more restaurant than pub nowadays, and one for a special meal at that, it’s definititely not pub grub.

In the Swan

In the Swan

We were the only ones in there around 6.30 pm. We perched at one of the tables, conscious not to leave a watermark from our beer (Wherry) on the nicely decorated table, and we soon drank up and left. It wasn’t really a place you could linger, which is such a shame as it feels like Ingham has lost its pub. But if you are after a special meal then head there; it’s a beautiful and well cared-for building.

The Maltsters, Malthouse Staithe

The Maltsters

The Maltsters

We didn’t actually go in this pub, but I wanted to mention it as it’s in a lovely location, opposite Malthouse Staithe on Malthouse Broad – a nice spot for a drink if you have just moored up. But what stood out for me was it’s outdoor pool table! It was under a little shelter in the garden – what a lovely idea for smokers who want to stand outside and play pool at the same time. Very unique. Having said that, I came across another pub with an outdoor pool table in the same area – maybe it’s a Norfolk thing…?

The Rising Sun, Coltishall

The Rising Sun, Coltishall

The Rising Sun, Coltishall

We took a boat out from Wroxham and cruised along the River Bure to reach this pub for a lunchtime beer. A beautiful and peaceful journey. The pub overlooks the river in the village of Coltishall and the King’s Head pub is located next to it. We had quite a nice drop of Wherry (Spitfire was also on at the bar) and sat on one of the picnic tables in the large beer garden next to where we had moored our boat and watched the world go by. Then we cruised on back to Wroxham. A lovely afternoon!

The Bridge, Acle

The Bridge, Acle

The Bridge, Acle

We went to this pub for a meal as it’s a pub we always drive past when in Norfolk, situated by Acle bridge. It’s striking as it has a round thatched building attached to the main pub. We found a free table in the beautiful thatched building, with its gorgous garden and riverside views, but then we were approached by a waitress who, after having asked us if we had booked a table and we replied in the negative, she asked us politely to move to the other building as this room was for bookings only. Grrr. So we moved into the main pub. This was very old and traditional with dark glossy beams and lots of horse brasses. I drank some Adnams Southwold Bitter, 4.1%, but was then very pleased to see that they were just putting on some Humpty Dumpty Broadland Sunrise so grabbed some of that too – this was wonderfully refreshing and hoppy with a frothy head. Fantastic beer.

River and moon

River and moon

After our meal we had a stroll out in the garden and along the river, glistening in the light of the full moon. We walked beside the moored up boats, their little lights twinkling behind half closed curtains.

The Falgate Inn, Potter Heigham

The Falgate, Potter Heigham

The Falgate, Potter Heigham

This was our last pub of the trip, again a little pub that we have driven by several times but never entered – it was time to put that right. From the outside it looked like one of these quiet locals pub that would probably have just two old men standing at the bar, but inside was a different story. The dining room was heaving with a dinner party, the bar was busy, and we only managed to get a table as a man with a dog kindly vacated his table for us. The Wherry was probably the best I tasted while in Norfolk – about time! The fairy lights around the windows were a nice touch, and the large fireplace in the bar was a fantastic centrepiece. A pleasant surprise, and a nice way to finish our trip to Norfolk.

Sunset

Update: in June 2012 we went back to Norfolk – here are the other pubs we visited!

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Some of my favourite pubs there and plenty more for me to seek out next time I’m Norfolk-way. Thanks for sharing!

    • Great! There are some fantastic pubs and breweries in Norfolk – I want to go back already…!

  2. I love some of these pubs, and I have wrote reviews on a few other good ones in Norfolk too, if you want, I would be really grateful if you visited my page to see some of them, and maybe tell me where else to review!


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