Today’s Norwich Pub of the Week spotlights one of the most famous real ale pubs in the city, the King’s Head in Magdalen Street, where lager is a swear word

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 November 2011

Pub of the Week, The Kings Head in Magdelan st, Norwich.

Photo Simon Finlay

Pub of the Week, The Kings Head in Magdelan st, Norwich. Photo Simon Finlay

Customers at the King’s Head have two main reasons for paying a visit.

One is the lack of background music, jukeboxes or fruit machines, and the other is the fact that it just sells local real ales, and has no lager on draft.

Manager Simon Coombes said: “A lot of the pubs in the city are pretty much the same in that you can order a lager or a glass of wine, and they have music in the background or jukeboxes or fruit machines, but all we’ve got here is good beer and good conversation, and a bar billiards team.”

Mr Coombes has been manager at the pub for about four years, and the two landlords and owners are Jon Smith and Roland Coomber, who have been there six years, after moving from the Nelson pub in Norwich, which was tied to Enterprise Inns.

Mr Coombes said: “They wanted a freehouse pub that they could put their mark on.”

The pub currently has 11 real ales on tap but it has capacity for three more.

“We are keg free and there’s no lager on draft,” Mr Coombes said. “It’s one of our main selling points and I think we are the only pub in Norwich that does not have any. Lager is a swear word in here, although we do have continental bottled lagers for sale.”

Customers are also keen to point out that it is also kid and dog-friendly and its size is a revelation to first-time punters, as it’s bigger inside - like Doctor Who’s Tardis machine - than it appears from the outside.

“A lot of people walking by just think that there’s a front bar but the bigger part of it is the back bar.”

The pub last won the Camra Norwich and Norfolk pub of the year competition in 2008, and is one of only two pubs in Norfolk, with the Fat Cat in West End Street, Norwich, in the current Camra’s Great British Pubs guide.

The guide says that the King’s Head is “the English pub as a home from home”.

It continues: “Norwich positively oozes great pubs; places like the King’s Head. On my visit there were 11 cask beers on display, all of them chalked up on a blackboard, and all of them coming from East Anglia.”

The Evening News has been urging customers to return in pubs in our Love your local campaign.

To see more stories from the campaign visit

What’s your local’s claim to fame? Call David Bale on 01603 772427 or email

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