The Unmentioned Pubs of Norwich

When talking about pubs in Norwich, the obvious stand out. The Fat Cat & Fat Cat Tap. Reindeer. Plasterers. Taphouse. Mash Tun. but there are so many other pubs in Norwich, either that I've not been to or I don't make a habit of drinking in. On Sunday, Sammie and I went on a bit of a crawl to discover these pubs...

The Rose Tavern, Rupert Street - A pub that I believe Alec and I went into once, about a year ago but drunken memories are hazy. This is a massive pub that's catering to the Sunday lunch crowd, with a nice garden out the back. The usual suspects of beer are on keg along with the rarely sighted Leffe and Hoegaarden. There were also hand pumps sporting not so uncommon real ales including Doom Bar, Woodfordes Wherry, Hopback Summer Lighning and Timothy Taylors Landlord. Of course, I went for Landlord above any of the others and it was extremely well kept. Service was friendly and with a smile, and we agreed we'd come back.

The Mulberry - Based on Unthank Road, The Mulberry is an Adnams tied pub that is seemingly part of a group of several pubs in Norwich. Arriving shortly after midday, it became apparent that it's one of the many "Sunday Brunch" spots that have popped up in Norwich. It seems to only be table service here, so we ordered Bitburger as if we were in Germany again (not that we ordered Bitburger when we were there). I had a great realisation that Bitburger is actually a really good beer and I just hadn't appreciated it before. Although nice, I doubt we'll return.

The Mad Moose - Another pub we'd heard of but never actually been to, and it was alright. It's on a corner that's more like an island, it's massive and has a garden with a rather large metal moose in it. I had Belhaven Intergalactic Dry Hop Lager, which surprised me as I've never been a fan of Belhaven beers - it was fruity and dry like a lager should be.

The Garden House - I used to drink here years ago when it was my brother's local. Moderate sized pub with a pool table, a massive garden but said garden has a serious lack of tables and chairs. I had Kozel, which definitely wasn't the same Kozel as I was drinking in Prague last year.

The Black Horse - I went here years ago as it was one of the only places that sold Hobgoblin on cask and oh how it has changed! It's all new and clean with a good buzz going on, still got the massive garden but an arguably better beer selection which I was surprised at for an Enterprise pub. There was Brooklyn Lager on keg and a good bunch of real ales on. I had Wharfe Bank Blood Orange IPA which was great.

The Alexandra Tavern - A pub I know I've been in many times and it was just the same, with Mediterranean style food and a selection of mostly Chalk Hill Brewery beers. We found a gem in Orkney Northern Light, which was light, hoppy and delicious.

The Belle Vue - Again a popular spot for me from years ago. Matt and I used to go there, hungover on a Sunday morning for one of their famously massive fry ups. I had Newby Wyke Kingston Topaz which was great - Newby Wyke is seriously underrated - but I noticed Guinness Golden Ale on keg, something I didn't know existed.

The Fat Cat - Ah a classic that I used to drink in pretty much every single day a few years ago, but yet another pub that Sammie had not been to. It was busy, as always, with the same usual selection of 30+ beers (they don't really change anymore). I went for the legendary Oakham Green Devil.

The Lord Nelson - A pub I have walked past loads of times but I've never wanted to enter. As this was a day of discovery, we went in. It was busy, full of locals who all know each other. There was one real ale on pump, Doom Bar, but in a pub like this I doubted the condition of what isn't a very nice beer anyway, so I went for Grolsch whilst Sammie went for Coors Light (somehow she had done so well in life as to never have tried Coors Light). Garden was big, and odd. Won't return.

West End Retreat - I never knew this pub existed before Sammie accidentally walked past it going the wrong way to her physio appointment the other week. I think of a retreat as somewhere nice, maybe like a beach or just somewhere peaceful. A peaceful beach, it was not. All mass produced keg lagers with warm bottles of Trooper that have probably been there since the first ever brew. Dusty, dog smell, a canvas photo of the dog above the bar (said dog was in the pub which is odd) and a weird shelf full of tins of different brands and brand progressions of baked beans. Fucking weird. We had a half of San Miguel and got out of dodge.

The Reindeer - Obviously it's one of my regular pubs, not least because I work there. Awesome pub, anyway. Dark Star Hophead was drunk here.

Rosebery - Been here tons of times. It was busy. Don't even know what I had but I'm sure it was good!

Fat Cat Brewery Tap - The best of the fat cat pubs. Live music was on so getting to the bar was a struggle. To my surprise, I found Brewdog Ace of Simcoe, single hop session IPA on keg which was beautiful to relax in the garden with.

The Stanley - Again, walked past loads of times but never been inspired to go in. I had a half of Guinness but they also had bottles of Black Sheep in the fridge. It was quiet, with just a few locals. Apparently they do live music. I didn't hate it, but I'm not sure I'd return.

The Artichoke - I vaguely remember play pool in there once. It was dead as hell and I didn't fancy London Pride so we had a half of Sagres which is an alright lager. Not in a rush to go back.

The Leopard - Sammie was quite drunk by this point and banging on about wanting food. The plan was always to go for an Indian but instead of going straight there, we diverted here. Again, I'm not sure what I had in here but I have a feeling it was a Golden Triangle beer.

The Plasterers - Another diversion on the way to have an Indian and I feel like drinking a half of Brewdog Jackhammer was not a wise idea! Again, I don't think I really need to say much about this pub.

Passage to India - Good Indian food with a half of Cobra (which I don't mind to be fair).

King's Head - Another classic Norwich institution which I visit regularly and you guessed it, I don't have a bloody clue what I drunk. I know that Sammie had a bottle of an unwisely strong Belgian Beer which meant... TAXIIIIII!

So what did we learn from going to pubs that we don't go to often or at all?

Firstly, don't stereotype just because it looks a bit dodgy and you don't like the look of the clientèle. Despite the fact that we'd been warned that some pubs like The Stanley and Nelson are rough, or that The West End Retreat that I'd never heard of looks really dodgy and rough, it doesn't mean they are. Not a single pub we went in made us feel unwelcome, in fact on the contrary the people were friendly and talkative. Said pubs may look weird, but they're not unfriendly.

That being said, there's a reason we don't go to most of these pubs often or at all and it's that they're just not our types of pubs. These pubs are there for a reason, because the locals gather together and have a good time and don't want to bother anyone.

The thing is though, we went on a Sunday; a family day; so things may be far, far different on a Saturday night when people are getting tanked without their kids.

All in all, we had a great day. Drank some dubious beers, but also drank some very very good ones.


P.S. I may have missed some pubs as my memory isn't great, but I think I captured most of them.


  1. Interesting about the Rose, I've not been for a few years (used to go and watch Norwich games there) and the beers used to be in poor condition. So that's good to hear that they sorted that. Still the same stuff on though!

  2. A good selection of pubs there Nate... No wonder you and Sammie were drunk. The Nelson used to be a really good pub. I mean it will never beat the Fat Cat down the road but the landlord was a good bloke and used to be 3 ales on. Sadly it seems as though things have gone down hill from there.

  3. I remember being a bit worried about some of the pubs on my list for the 'beer census' a few years ago - every single one had someone with time to spare, Fat Cat brewery tap even gave me a cup of tea (yes,tea, as I had about 20 pubs still to go), and several that only had one real ale apologised for not having more. We do pretty well in Norwich, I reckon. The only other city I've had such great drinking experiences is Liverpool, friendly staff and customers in every single pub (and a manager who gave me the tour of the very famous gents' toilets in the Phil).

  4. My God, is the Nelson really still there? Only been in there once, about 12 years ago as it was on the way to the Fat Cat and I needed a piss. Looked like the sort of place that would be put out of business within weeks. Think I drank the short lived 'Carling Premier' in there.


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