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Nelson Head and National Trust's Horsey Windpump, Ampersand brewery Diss, Live and Let Live King's Lynn - Camra awards by Bar Man





Jeff Hoyle writes his weekly Bar Man column

I have a new favourite pub in Norfolk. A small, brick built cottage style pub with log fires and a fine display of marshmen’s implement’s including several rather large and hopefully deactivated guns.

There are half a dozen proper ciders, beers both on gravity and handpump and proper filling pub food. Locals, tourist, artists, walkers, and most of all dogs seemed to be in their element here. The catch? It is just about as far away as it could be and still be in Norfolk.

Camra logo
Camra logo

The Nelson Head is at Horsey, close to the popular seal spotting beach and the National Trust owned Horsey Windpump, though even if you visit this, you might not notice the pub tucked away down a cul-de-sac. Why did we travel the 70 miles to visit this gem?

It has been selected as the East Norfolk CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year and we took a couple of days to try out this and other Norfolk award winners, and what a fine collection they were.

From the Nelson Head, it was down to the New Entertainer in Gorleston, a fine town pub with a great expanse of glass in the end of the flat iron shaped building, making it light and bright.

Ampersand Brewery in Diss held the Norwich Amateur Brewers Hoptober Homebrew Competition. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022
Ampersand Brewery in Diss held the Norwich Amateur Brewers Hoptober Homebrew Competition. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022

We broke our journey for an overnight stay at a local hotel and fell into conversation with a couple up from London.

I learned something of golf and bowls, and the attractions of their local Conservative Club. They were after ideas about where to visit the next day, having been advised to avoid Lowestoft due to the large number of ‘foreigners.’ I think we suggested Norwich or Beccles and rapidly changed the subject rather than risk spoiling a harmonious evening.

It turned out that he was a beer lover. His favourite tipple was John Smiths. In cans. Truly, our work is not yet done.

Ampersand Brewery in Diss held the Norwich Amateur Brewers Hoptober Homebrew Competition. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022
Ampersand Brewery in Diss held the Norwich Amateur Brewers Hoptober Homebrew Competition. Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography 2022

Our return home was punctuated by a couple of stops. First came the Ampersand brewery, situated on an industrial estate in Diss.

The large unit is split between a brewery and a bar, the service knowledgeable and friendly, the beer choice with its three cask offerings and about 16 ‘craft’ taps amazing, while burgers and such like were available to fill the hunger gap.

Tremendous and very different to any other pub I have ever judged for Norfolk Pub of the Year.

Live and Let Live pub in Windsor Road, King's Lynn
Live and Let Live pub in Windsor Road, King's Lynn

Our final call was The Fox at Garboldisham, a community owned and run pub just to east of Thetford.

Once again fine cider jostled for position with a selection of cask ales.

The Thetford based Drenchfoot was my choice, a brewery that seems to be spreading its wings as I first tried it at Larling Angel the previous week. Yet another gem of a pub.

Remembrance Day. Pictured from left Freddie Hayes, Olli Hayes of the Live and Let Live Public House Lynn with their memorial wreath
Remembrance Day. Pictured from left Freddie Hayes, Olli Hayes of the Live and Let Live Public House Lynn with their memorial wreath

To complete our rounds, we still need to call into the White Lion in Norwich and the Live and Let Live in Lynn, but I can say that in the twenty or so years that I have been involved in selecting the Norfolk champions, the standard has neither been higher or more varied.

Sometimes I think that the West Norfolk choices have been hard done by, and I hope that the Angel and Live and Let Live come through, but I can’t honestly say that if any of the four that we checked out during our trip turned out to be winners I would be surprised or disappointed.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Is the general standard of pubs improving, or are we becoming better at selecting great places?

I don’t know the answer to that, but if you are over east, do call in and see for yourself.



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