Julian and I decided to postpone a more rural visit to the further reaches of Norfolk in favour of a Norwich based tour, as I needed to be back for bar billiards. Julian S refers to this as something like bare knuckle stick action, but he doesn’t understand sport in the way that I do, although at times I wonder if he might just be right. When talking to people outside Norwich, the Fat Cat is one of the pubs that most people identify with the city as it has a long tradition of being a destination real ale pub since it opened in 1991. It has won many CAMRA awards, not least the National Pub of the Year twice, and is also listed in the Good Beer Guide. The pub, located on West End Street, had first opened in the late 1860s and was known as the New Inn until 1991, when it took its current Fat Cat name under the ownership of Colin Keatley. He had previously run the White Lion on Oak Street, which is today one of the best pubs in the country despite the landlord’s ability to lead me astray, but we won’t go too far down that line on this blog post.
Some of the extensive range of real ales, of which they had around twenty which shows just how much they’re selling here. There were also ciders and craft beer options, but the real ale selection was well balanced and all major beer types were covered. Breweries included Titanic, Thornbridge, Green Jack, Oakham to name just a few, along with the beers brewed in-house by the Fat Cat Brewing Company. Julian and I are very punctilious in every possible way, so we knew we had just time for one beer here despite the number of tempting and almost seductive options.
The beers are keenly priced, with one lower priced option which is a marvellous idea for a pub. It’s not cheap visiting pubs today given the cost of living increases, so affordable options are much appreciated and venues might find that they’re a necessity if matters continue as they are.
And more of the beer selection.
I went for the Marmalade Cat from the Fat Cat Brewing Company, which was well kept, fresh and suitably full bodied. Julian S also commented positively about his Citra from Oakham Ales.
There’s plenty of character to the pub and there’s no shortage of beer memorabilia about the place. That door leads to another seating area which is often used for meetings and the like.
Decorations attached to the ceiling. I would never dare do this in a pub that I had, I’d be nervous one would fall on someone’s head. I admire their confidence, or at least, I am realistic about my own DIY abilities. But, I digress.
There’s one long central bar and the venue has been extended on numerous occasions over the years. Although we visited on a quiet afternoon, I understand that it’s often very busy and it’s not always easy to find a seat. There was a mixture of regulars and also I got the impression a couple of visitors new to the pub who had heard about its reputation.
Some old pub signs and unfortunately the King’s Head at Worstead and the Shropham Three Horseshoes are no longer with us other than as memories.
I haven’t been to this pub for nearly ten years and by chance, I was to visit it again the following evening for a CAMRA planning meeting for the Norwich Beer Festival. I was pleased to return, the choice of real ales was as good as anywhere in Norfolk and the service was immediate and friendly. I’m also pleased that I don’t need to write anything negative about this visit, as it would have been just a little sacrilegious to be critical of this fine establishment. Although, for the record, Julian and I are not easily kowtowed, so I would have mentioned any issues that arose, but I’m pleased to say there was nothing negative.