Skip to main content
2nd June 2020

Norwich City of Ale in Lockdown

Norwich City of Ale 2019 Launch at The Waterfront, Norwich. Photo credit Simon Finlay Photography.

Were it not for Covid 19, the Norwich City of Ale Festival would have recently celebrated its 10th festival. The launch party would have taken place at the Waterfront on a glorious, sunny day. Beer writers from all over the country would have descended upon the city to discover the amazing beers produced in the region and to visit some of the wonderful pubs that adorn the streets of Norwich.

Pubs would be hosting festivals, quizzes, music nights, beer tastings, food and beer pairings and all manner of events. Brewers would be doing talks, showcasing their latest brews and sipping the fruits of their labour. Beer lovers would be working their way round the pubs on the Ale Trails, trying out new beers and exploring the rich history and architecture of the city and its pubs. Norwich City Hosts would be pointing visitors in the right direction for the next pub on the trail.

People would be talking to strangers across the bar or beer garden, having a laugh, making the most of the social environment that can be found in every City of Ale Pub.

Says Phil Cutter of the Murderers Pub, and joint-founder of City of Ale,

“We now have to wait until next year for the 10th Anniversary Festival. Do put Thursday 27th May to Sunday 6th June 2021 in your diary.

“In the meantime, the hospitality and brewing sectors have been really hard hit. Even those who are still buying beer have often ended up reverting to buying national brands of beer from supermarkets. But it’s still possible to support the region’s craft brewers, and if they are going to survive, it’s really important to do your best to find their beers and buy them. If you can also support the pubs that have found ways to offer some kind of service during lockdown, that will also provide a lifeline to great independent businesses that otherwise risk going under.

“If you’re in a position to do so, please do support the City of Ale breweries and pubs – and we will work together to make sure next year’s Festival is the best one yet.”

Here are examples of what City of Ale pubs and breweries are doing…

City of Ale Breweries

Norfolk Brewhouse

Moon Gazer Barn, Harvest Lane, Hindringham, Norfolk, NR21 0PW

  • Buy Moongazer Ales:
  • Various pub takeaways and shops
  • Online:
  • By phone: 01328 878 495
  • Pre-order, collect on Friday 9am – 5pm
  • National deliveries £4.99 to mainland UK, free for orders over £60
  • As well as bottles, you can now get our real ale in a bag in a boxes 9, 18 or 36 pints

What David Holliday, Brewery Owner, told us

“Our whole business had to be repositioned overnight, which was hard, but we’ve have been overwhelmed by the support of local shops.

“Working with other local drinks producers such as Whin Hill Cider and Black Shuck Gin means we can sell each other’s products, share deliveries and help spread the ‘buy local’ word.

“We are also working as a community with other brewers, again sharing deliveries if we can, but also buying things together to make purchasing more cost effective. Fellow City of Ale brewers Wolf Brewery have been really supportive by continuing to bottle our beers for us.

“We really miss the pubs and people, but thankfully some are offering takeaway ale, and we’re working with them.”


“The sense of togetherness has made a really tough situation actually heart-warming.  Sense of community has always been a key driver for Rachel and me – and this has just reinforced how important it is emotionally and from a business point of view.”

International Collaborations

“Day to day it’s about keeping the business going. But we are also keeping one eye on the future. We are collaborating with Smartmouth Brewery in Norfolk, Virginia, USA as well as the Hof Ten Dormaal Brewery in Flanders, Belgium, who had produced a special Apple Saison ale for this year’s City of Ale. We are now on a mission to make sure that the Apple Saison can be imported and enjoyed in Norfolk!”


Shortts Brewery

Thorndon, Eye, Suffolk

Buy Shortts Brewery Beer:

  • Hop In, North Walsham
  • The Crown in Great Glemham
  • The Steamboat in Ipswich
  • Bacchanalia in Cambridge


Poppyland Brewery

West Street, Cromer, NR27 9DS

They have brewed only once since lockdown – to produce a specialist beer using the herb Yerba mate. It was due to be sold at the Cambridge Beer Festival for the Darwin celebration (HMS Beagle was launched in 1820). It will soon be available in bottles. They are also about to launch their beer in a seven-pint box: look out for it!

What Dave Cornell, owner and brewer told us:

“Last year, we decided to branch out beyond brewing and on 2nd January ordered distilling equipment. This was delivered and installed one week before lockdown. We had a full order book for beer and looked to complement this with East Coast Cromer Gin.

“One week after lockdown started, every e-mail coming in was a cancellation of a festival or event, and our beer production was totally destroyed in a fortnight. Our gin launch date has been put back and back and back…

“But we are still here and when it starts to get back to normal, we will bounce back!”

Community Support

“As we couldn’t sell our products, we changed tactics and made hand sanitiser. We decided to give it away to those who need it the most – particularly to Cromer Cares, a community group supporting the vulnerable.”

Dave’s Main Message

“Buy locally brewed beers! There are great Norfolk beers to buy both in the supermarkets and pubs. Norfolk produces the best malts and makes the best beers, and they are readily available to buy from the best pubs!” Soon, he hopes!


Humpty Dumpty Brewery

Reedham, NR13 3TZ

Buy Humpty Dumpty Brewery beer:

  • Brewery Shop, NR13 3TZ
  • Currently open Tuesday-Saturday 12-5pm
  • Buy bottled & draught beer and other local Norfolk produce including fresh eggs and asparagus there
  • For local deliveries, call the brewery on 01493 701818

What Lesley George, partner and business manager, told us

With staff furloughed, I’ve become the unexpected ‘Jack / Jackie of all Trades’ and Cellarwoman at the brewery. I have traded the gym for beer barrels and Pimms for pints …!

“We are very lucky to be located in one of the most beautiful villages in the Norfolk Broads, where neighbours look out for each other. They are even ordering beer parcels for doorstep delivery for one another!”

Community Support 

“We’ve become a donation hub for the Great Yarmouth Food Bank, which is being hugely supported by our customers.

“We are truly thankful to the locals who are supporting us in the shop – and to the wider community for their orders too.”

Lesley’s Main Message

 “Please continue to support your local pubs and breweries who are doing their best to keep people connected in their communities, and refreshed with local ale. As you can’t get to the pub, we’ll bring it to you. Let’s help each other in this difficult time.”


Grain Brewery

Alburgh, Norfolk, IP20 0BS

Buy Grain Brewery Beer:

The brewery Drive Thru run by husband and wife team Phil and Hilary Halls. Order, pay and collect beer without having to get out of your car. Pay with contactless using a PDQ machine strapped to the end of a 3 metre stick that reaches into your car window.


Thursdays and Fridays, 4pm to 6pm

Saturdays, 12 noon to 3pm

What Phil Halls, brewery owner and director, told us

“The local response has been overwhelming with the Drive Thru becoming the safest way to pick up a few pints to take home in the area.

“We have seen everything from cyclists and tractors to quad bikes and Bentleys coming through the Drive Thru. It’s a slick – but very Norfolk – operation.

“The Drive Thru has so far allowed us to avoid the awful prospect of pouring all our beer down the drain, and is paying our rent and overheads until we can return to more familiar times. We have also gained new regular customers who, despite leaving in the same village, had never tried Grain beer before. I believe Lockdown has opened people’s eyes and taste buds to the great suppliers within their local area.”


Wildcraft Brewery

Foragers’ Rest, Coltishall Road, Norwich, NR105JD

Buy Wildcraft Brewery Beer:

  • A drive through at the brewery 9-5pm Monday to Saturday
  • Free delivery of beer around the UK on orders over £30
  • Through Veg Box Buh to service all NR postcodes.
  • A volunteer is providing free delivery for local orders

They are brewing around 90% of what they would normally be producing at this time of year – and are finding it hard to keep up with demand for their new beer, Wild Caribbean.

What Mike Deal, director, head brewer, told us

“We are now working crazy hours to ensure brewery stuff is done before heading out on the road to deliver beer. We’ve taken on other companies’ products and even some food to ensure a more rounded delivery can be made.”

Community Support

“We are a brewery that has always been focussed on our community so have offered free local delivery on everything. We have also offered to get other items if vulnerable people or those self-isolating are in need.”

Mike’s Main Message

“Keep buying local. There are loads of breweries in Norfolk all with slightly different beers: some traditional, some experimental and everything in between. All of us enjoy it when you come direct but also check out people like Sir Toby’s Beers on the market as they do a great selection of everyone’s beers!”


Panther Brewery

Unit 1, Collers Way, Reepham, Norfolk, NR10 4SW

Buy Panther Brewery Beer:

  • Via the website:
  • By phone on 01603 871163
  • Via the CAMRA Brew2You App, launched to support brewers in lockdown

What Martin James, owner and head brewer told us:

“The brewery shop remains open. simply beep your horn or ring the bell and we will sort your order for you. We continue to do home deliveries within the county and those out of county are delivered through our delivery partners.

Community Support

“As a brewery we are missing our brilliant pubs, but have been genuinely touched by how supportive the general public has been at this tough time for the industry. We will always remember this when we reach ‘the other side’ and we return to something approaching normal!”

Martin’s Main Message

“All of us can’t wait to see pubs re-opening, but as beer lovers we must remember that we will get through this and that through the click of a button, a quick phonecall to the brewery or a trip to see us at Reepham, you can sample our lovely beers whenever you like! Lockdown is difficult but certainly doesn’t feel so bad after a drop of the best drink in the world: beer!”


Ampersand Brew Co

Camphill Farm, Middle Road, Earsham, NR35 2AH

Buy Ampersand Brew Co Beer: 

  • Online shop:
  • Free local delivery to people who live within postcodes NR15, NR34, NR35, IP19, IP20, IP21 & IP22.
  • Available to take away in 2 & 4 pint containers from The Cap in Harleston

After a short break for a few weeks they are now back brewing again. They have had to make changes in packaging, and most of their beer is now in cans. 

Amy Hipwell, Owner says:

Community Support

“We have been very lucky and have had lots of support from the local community near the brewery and our pub in Harleston but we have also received support from all over the country and we want to thank people for helping us to keep going.”

Main Message

“Now more than ever it is important to support local companies whether it’s a brewery, beer shop or pub. Everyone is having to work twice as hard to adapt and survive which is both mentally and physically draining. We also need to remember to support those who aren’t able to open at this time and be there for them when they can.”



City of Ale Pubs

Plasterers Arms

43 Cowgate, Norwich, NR3 1SZ

Buy Beer and Food from The Plasterers Arms:

  • Cask ale, cans and bottles from the fridges every day (flexible hours, but currently 4-7pm weekdays and 1-6pm at the weekend)
  • Pizza and fries via Just Eat on Friday and Saturday nights

Dave King’s Main Message

“The support from the local community has been very good, which we are very thankful for. We have refocused on local brewers, and hope to be sourcing as much cask beer from them as possible during this period.”


The Belgian Monk

7 Pottergate, Norwich NR2 1DS

Buy Beer from The Belgian Monk:

What Terry Hughes, partner, told us

“Along with many others, our business has been turned upside down overnight. It was soul-destroying to have to close the doors and we sympathise with all in the same position.

“After the initial shock we had lots of enquiries for beer deliveries. This has been a godsend for us as to go from working 12-14 hours a day to nothing was very difficult.  Our cherry beer bottled sales (which we are extremely popular for) have gone crazy and we find ourselves working 7 days a week doing home deliveries, including a very popular run to the coast 3 times a week. It’s been a lifeline to enable us to pay the fixed costs on our building.

“This weekend (May 23 – 25) we are trialling a food takeaway service. It will be a very limited menu, but does include our mussels, so we are hoping support will be good. We have 20 staff, all furloughed and we are hopeful we will be able to bring some of them back soon to slowly open our business again.”

Terry’s Main Message

“We hope that all in our trade will be offered full support from the Government upon opening. Rent is, at the moment, a very difficult amount to try and find and whilst we have had support in the form of a grant, we hope that something else will be offered to our industry to help get us all back up on our feet again.”


The Artichoke

Buy Beer from The Artichoke:

  • Takeaway beer every day till 7pm
  • A unique range of cans with deals and discounts on some of them
  • Takeaway draught cask and keg beers in 2 pint and 4pint containers

Buy Food from The Artichoke:

  • Food partners, XO kitchen (located in The Artichoke) are preparing their fantastic food for takeaway on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Pre order food from them during the week
  • Regularly selling out: first come first served

Kevin Tweedy, Managing Director, Main Message:

“We think it is important to keep offering access to good beer and to keep in touch with our regular and much valued customers.”


Walnut Tree Shades

Old Post Office Court, Norwich NR2 1NG

Buy Beer and Food at the Walnut Tree Shades:

Beer and food takeaway hatch, open 5-8pm every day except Thursday


  • Moongazer Jigfoot draught cask £2.50 per pint
  • Bottles £3 each include Moongazer Jigfoot, Jumper and Nibbler and Newcastle Brown Ale
  • Gluten Free bottles £2.50 each include Belfield Pilsner, Belfield IPA, Peroni Lager
  • All of the above – mix n match 4 for £10
  • Old Mout Cider £3.20 or 4 for £12


  • Tuesday night: Burger night
  • Wednesday night: Curry night
  • Friday night: Fish night

We deliver at a small cost. Call Claire on 01603 622910


The Vine

7 Dove St, Norwich NR2 1DE

Aey Allen, owner, on Community Support

“I cooked with members of the Thai community in Norwich for the NHS for 7 weeks. It was really my pleasure to do it. It was the highlight of the week to do some good deeds. I am thinking about doing the same thing with my local surgery too.”


Lollards Pit Pub

69-71 Riverside Rd, Norwich NR1 1SR

  • Click and Collect Service, or Click and Delivery for vulnerable customers
  • Weekly Online Quiz


For more information, contact Laura Watson on