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On a warm summer’s day, nothing beats soaking up the sunshine in a pub garden with a cool, refreshing beer in hand. And with over 50 breweries scattered throughout the county, putting it in the top three in the country, Norfolk is the perfect holiday destination for those who like their ales!
But why are there so many Norfolk breweries? It’s all down to the fact that the county has the ideal growing conditions for malt barley, with the correct soil types and salty sea mist. Norfolk water is also said to be perfect for beer-making – some breweries use water from their own boreholes and wells as they feel this helps to give their beers their own unique and distinctive flavours.
One of the best ways to sample the huge variety of hand-crafted local ales is by visiting some of the breweries for a tour and tasting. From large award-winning breweries to small microbreweries, we have chosen five of the best brewery tours in Norfolk to wet your whistle. And if you need somewhere local to stay afterwards, click the button below to browse our collection of Norfolk cottages.
Woodforde’s in Woodbastwick is one of the foremost cask ale breweries in the UK, having produced several CAMRA 'Champion Beer of Britain' award-winning ales. Lovingly crafted from special ingredients including ancient water from beneath the brewery, Norfolk barley, and an array of hops, Woodforde’s beer is known for its wonderful flavour and aroma. Nearly four decades of beer making means that this is one of the most recognised breweries in Norfolk and you can see the fascinating brewing process in action on one of their famous tours.
Starting at the mash tuns, you’ll discover some of the secrets of Woodforde’s award-winning ‘Wherry’ pint, with the tour culminating in a tasting session. A visit to the brewery shop is a must if you want to take some refreshing Sundew or the fearsomely strong Headcracker home with you. And if you’re feeling a bit peckish after your tour, pop next door into the brewery’s utterly charming thatched pub, The Fur and Feather. Here you can tuck into hearty home-cooked fare, washed down with your favourite Woodforde’s tipple.
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Founded in 2013, Redwell Brewery in Norwich has fast become one of the top breweries in Norfolk, creating beer brewed in small batches. Their lagers and American influenced craft beers feature a crisp pilsner, a fruity extra pale ale and a super-hopped west coast pale ale. There are also some great hybrid styles including a mash-up of Belgian wheat beers with IPA to create a deliciously drinkable White IPA.
During a tour and tasting, you can learn more about the different styles of beer, and the raw ingredients and brewing processes involved. You can taste the beers at different stages of fermentation straight from the tanks and discover how they are all vegan and gluten-free. The tour will last around 60 minutes and includes a free branded pint glass and a pint of beer on arrival. Why not make a night of it and enjoy the brewery taproom, where you can drink great beer straight from the source, accompanied by wood-fired pizza?
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The well-established and multi award-winning Humpty Dumpty Brewery in Reedham has been producing quality real ales for over 15 years. Named after the GER Class T-19R steam locomotives that went from Norwich to Lowestoft in the early 20th century, the brewery operates an 11-barrel brew plant which you can explore during an arranged brewery tour and tasting.
This popular Norfolk microbrewery offers a selection of core beers that are available throughout the year such as Broadland Sunrise, an orange-red ale with a dry finish, and Norfolk Nectar, an ale infused with local honey. They also craft seasonal specials with the likes of Bad Egg, a malty ale, available during the Easter period only. Try them all by arranging a tour, which can also include a fish and chip supper. You can purchase their full range of beers, as well as brewing and beer paraphernalia from their on-site shop after your visit.
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Foraging as many natural ingredients as possible such as nettles, elderflower, raspberries, cherries, sloes and hops, Wildcraft Brewery in Norwich create a unique selection of brews, many of which are seasonal. One of Norfolk’s most environmentally friendly breweries, they keep their carbon footprint to a minimum and are an important part of the local community.
Sample the likes of Wild Bill Hiccup, Wild Spice and Wild Stallion Stout on a tour and generous tasting. You’ll gain a fascinating insight into how this top microbrewery in Norfolk works. You can also pick up some of their flavoursome liqueurs and spirits during your visit including Wildcraft Bathtub Gin, Cherry Liqueur and Blackberry Vodka.
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Chalk Hill Brewery in Norwich is a 15-barrel plant which was originally established in 1993. From light session beer to strong, dark ales, everything at this Norfolk brewery is brewed with malt from Norfolk maltings and the finest hops – there’s no blending, no dilution, just quality. Chalk Hill ales can be sampled during a free brewery tour (upon request), which lasts for around 45 minutes.
Favourite tipples to try include Tap Session Beer, CHB Best Bitter, Gold Golden Ale, Mustard IPA, Dreadnought Ruby Ale, Flintknappers Mild and Black Anna Milk Stout. Also on the same site as the brewery is The Coach And Horses public house, where you can continue your experience with a refreshing pint of your favourite ale, accompanied by some delicious seasonal food.
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Holiday cottages near pubs in Norfolk
Make the most of these top breweries in Norfolk by staying nearby in one of our self-catering cottages. Without the stress of having to drive, you can sup local ales to your heart's content, knowing that you’ll have somewhere cosy to relax and unwind afterwards. We even have a collection of cottages in Norfolk near a pub, making it even simpler to seek out the county’s best beers.
Bringing the dog on holiday too? Read our guide to ‘Dog-friendly pubs in Norfolk’ where you can enjoy your favourite pint with your canine by your side.