The Bar Man, by Jeff Hoyle, April 12, 2019
Presentation number one. We gathered on a Friday evening down at Denver Windmill, in the Blackstone Engine Bar. It may be under different management since the last time we arrived with our certificates, but the atmosphere remains.
Our mission was to hand over the award for the West Norfolk CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year, and as the cameras flashed, Andy and John posed for the pictures.
I admit that cider is not really my thing, but when I went to do my part of the survey, Andy took the time and trouble to provide me with small samples of the brands on offer, and I think it is as much his welcoming approach as well as the quality of the ciders on offer that played a decisive part in the victory.
It seems to be working with the locals, as there was a good turnout for the celebrations from the regulars as well as our members.
Before we could tuck into the fine fare provided from the recently reopened café next door, there was another certificate to award. John, the brewer at the Two Rivers Brewery and the force behind the bar, was also celebrating success with his beers in the Norfolk bottled beers competition.
His Denver Diamond, Hares Hopping and the guest ale brewed specially for Feltwell Wellington were all on fine form, but rounding off the evening with a glass of his Porter was a real treat.
Presentation number two. The Rose and Crown in Harpley. Taking on the mantle of our branch Pub of the Year was no easy task as the excellent Kings Arms had been champion for three consecutive years, and it was nice that they sent their congratulations.
However, this was a popular and deserved win and a just reward for the young team behind it. They say that you are getting old when policemen look young, and I guess that the same applies to landlords.
Alice and Shannon look like they are barely out of school, but are running a great pub and an outside catering stall, which appears at various events around the county at weekends, as well as dispensing fine fare from the car park.
Recently they have just taken on a Tex-Mex restaurant on Railway Road in Lynn, and still find time to raise several children. Admittedly, they have some help and the beer ordering and front of house tasks are in the hands of 19-year-old Bev, who is doing a great job.
A mention too for the new guy, who started on the night of the presentation and tried unsuccessfully to persuade us that the award was all down to him!
Once again, the food laid on was superb and we really want to find time to try their regular all-you-can-eat Mexican evening.
The beer choice varies, but my drink of the evening was from the excellent nearby Boudicca brewery. I thought that their Golden Torc was hard to beat, but they managed it with their Porter. Maybe there is a theme emerging here.
So what next? Our champions go up against the other branch winners from Norfolk. For the Blackstone this means the Fox at Garboldisham, the White Lion in Norwich and the Mariners in Yarmouth.
The Rose and Crown is up against the Leopard in Norwich, the Lion in Thurne and the Old Kings Head in Brockdish.
Pass these tests and the rest of East Anglia is the next hurdle on the way to the National Pub of the Year, currently the Wonston Arms in Hampshire.