Punters celebrate as Norwich Beer Festival returns

Norwich Beer Festival 2021 at St Andrew's Hall

Norwich Beer Festival 2021 at St Andrew's Hall - Credit: Jess Coppins

Glasses were raised triumphantly in the air as the annual highlight for any city beer lover returned after a Covid-enforced year off.

It was touch and go on whether the Norwich Beer Festival would be able to return to St Andrew's Hall in 2021, but after the green light was finally given in August two months of frantic planning made the comeback possible.

Cheers! The return of the Norwich Beer Festival to St Andrew's Hall

Cheers! The return of the Norwich Beer Festival to St Andrew's Hall - Credit: Jess Coppins

And once the doors were finally open there was a sense of relief for punters as they quaffed pints of porter and hoppy halves - among more than 200 real ales, beers and ciders on offer.

Jennifer Smith, manager of the festival's Blackfriars' bar said: "We're all a bit of a family, lots of the same volunteers come back every year and it is just lovely to see some of the same faces again - it's great to be back."

The curiosities bar at the Norwich Beer Festival

The Curiosities Bar at the Norwich Beer Festival - Credit: Jess Coppins

The festival is operating at 75pc capacity to allow for safer social distancing, while its traditional bar games have also been given up to allow for more standing and seating space.

Drinkers are greeted at the doors with temperature checks and questioned on their Covid status on arrival, with hand sanitising stations and PPE supplied to staff to ensure the safest possible environment.

Other measures are also in place to discourage close gatherings, which has seen live music removed from the bill and announcements over public address systems to limit crowding.

Jennifer Smith, Blackfriars' bar manager of the Norwich Beer Festival

Jennifer Smith, Blackfriars' bar manager of the Norwich Beer Festival - Credit: Jess Coppins

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Miss Smith added: "It does feel a little different and we're being very careful, but it has still been a lovely atmosphere. I think everyone is just relieved to be back at festivals and enjoying themselves.

"My advice to people who are maybe worried would be to avoid the busier sessions like Friday and Saturday night and maybe choose a lunchtime session."

Chris Sharpe and Graham Palmer share a toast at the Norwich Beer Festival

Chris Sharpe and Graham Palmer share a toast at the Norwich Beer Festival - Credit: Archant

Regular festival-goer Chris Sharpe, 56 from Wymondham, said: "I tend to come every year so it was a bit of a shame it was cancelled last year so it is great to be back."

Graham Palmer, 57, of Sprowston, added: "It's the first time I've been in about 15 years but it is great to be here and it's been really well socially distanced - I feel as safe as can be expected."

Norwich Beer Festival 2021

Norwich Beer Festival 2021 - Credit: Jess Coppins


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