Retired Martin’s Honest Norwich Reappraisal Part IV – “You can taste the black treacle in this”

17th March 2023.

The three (3) new Beer Guide entries in the bag, Norwich had delivered a better performance than expected, and now it was time to head “home” to That Waterbeach, the craft capital of the Fens.

But the walk back to the station would only take 20 minutes if I didn’t stop at red lights and it was 32 minutes till the train,

so I can either stare at record shops on Magdalen Street

or pop in the Kings Head and ask about the missing apostrophe.

Actually, I had a very good reason for nipping in here, with an aim of (re) visiting the Top 4 CAMRA pubs this year.

I’d been in the Tamworth winner (they’re all winners) already, I’ll no doubt revisit Durham on the way to complete Tyne & Wear, and Will was giving me directions to Stapleford from Nottingham by bus only last week. By bus !

So here was an ideal opportunity to make a first visit in a decade to the pub famed for serving NO KEG, as if that was a crime, rather than just getting you a 10 day ban from CAMRA or something.

A bit like with my view of Norwich, I wanted to dislike this “CAMRA pub“, but I couldn’t.

For a start, the bar bloke was a gem.

Pass me a Nips please” (it’s the little CAMRA magazine listing new breweries).

He stretches about 16 feet to reach one behind the Old Boy’s head.

Oooh, you’ve got long arms !” I say, the sort of thing you say after 3 pints in an hour.

It’s the best thing about me !“.

The other customers are lovely, too. One of them tells me I should have the Bull of the Woods, so I do. ALWAYS have the recommended beer, folks.

Elsewhere, folk eschew the cask and drink Orval, a sensible choice,

and young people (under 25 not 59) play bar billiards.

It’s a Proper Pub, not a “CAMRA pub”, and I know what I mean by that.

Its imperfections are the same ones you cherish in other Proper Pubs. A group standing at the bar, aimlessly (“SIT DOWN !”), someone saying “You can taste the black treacle in this porter” as they sip (SIP !!) the Black Treacle Porter, even the fact my own beer is in truth tasty but a little thin (NBSS 3+).

But then the conversation turns to Miss Whiplash and the “approved Womens’ Institute programme” and all is well.

A quick look down the alley, for no obvious reason,

and a sensible decision to pass on a pre-emptive at the pub nearest the station.

Just enough time for chips and curry sauce at Ely riverside.

Great night.

6 thoughts on “Retired Martin’s Honest Norwich Reappraisal Part IV – “You can taste the black treacle in this”

  1. The King’s Arms is one of the only pubs I’ve visited where I was made to feel unwelcome. Two different times too. Nice to see a warmer reception.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a shame, Dave. Like BRAPA, I don’t have a great opinion of Norfolk pubs as particularly welcoming places, and I may have been lucky here. There wasn’t much interaction in any of them.


  2. It’s 10 years since I last set foot in the Kings Head, and unsurprisingly I can’t recall the welcome I received.

    I’m possibly heading up to Norwich for the day, next week. I’ve a spot of family business to attend to, but I might just find the time to call in at the Kings Head, along with one or two others. I might even discover what happened to the missing apostrophe, but on the other hand, I couldn’t really care less.

    Liked by 1 person

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