At last, you cry, a pub I’ve heard of. And surely a shoe-in for any Top 100 at very least.
I wasn’t sure the Fat Cat was a shoe-in, so on my night in Norwich I did the necessary research.
You know where Norwich is, I’ll spare you the map. You probably know where the Fat Cat is. Still interesting seeing how many pubs there are round there, though;
To be fair, I’ve been in the Fat Cat twice and scored the beer very highly (NBSS 3.5+), so any reservations I have must have been down to three things;
- It’s all beardies and beer bores
- There’s too many handpumps to maintain quality
- There’s no Draught Bass anymore
Guilty on the last point anyway, though that’s true of about 4,300 other pubs in the Guide, and at least the Fat Cat had it on recently (I was told).
On the second point, the case for the prosecution starts with the beer board;
31 (thirty-one) beers on a Monday
I don’t like that, not at all. It feels like a cask beer lottery to me.
The defence will say “Ah, but a beer shrine like the Fat Cat can turn those over, no problem“. But this isn’t a vast pub by any means; there weren’t many more customers than ales while I was there.
So I drank their beer. In pints, of course. The Crouch Vale Yakima was well presented but a bit sharp, the Boltmaker from a Tim Tap Takeover was well presented but a bit plain. NBSS 3 both, but they wouldn’t have converted Mrs RM from the evil keg.
I prepared to write my savage piece. But then, seeing that Abbot appeared to be the beer of choice, if only because it was £3 a pint, I went for that. And a pork pie.
The pork pie was a stodgy joy; the Abbot was cool, smooth and complex. A straight NBSS 4.5, and an early contender for Beer of the Month. You didn’t expect that.
And while I don’t like the idea of 31 pumps, I have to say they’re all beers from good, established brewers. It’s not a ticker’s pub. Some terrific stronger beers,mind.
Of course, pubs are about people, not pumps, however fast their throughput. My main reservation about the Fat Cat was unfounded.
As you’d hoped for in a backstreet city pub, there’s a great mix of locals and visitors. A bit like Stockport’s Magnet or Burton’s Coopers Tavern (if only that was in the Beer Guide, heh ?).
Blokes in Hi-Vis jackets at the bar, schoolteachers complaining about pupils at the adjacent table, folk getting growlers of beer to drink while watching “Gunpowder” on the I-Player. I couldn’t fault the atmosphere.
And the pub itself is a marvel, up there with the Cambridge Blue for brewerania.
If anything, it’s too attractive. It’s a good job I didn’t stop for a second Abbot, or I’d have had that Bass sign off the wall. I’d have left the Red Barrel.