A word of warning to all of those people who wish to do experiential learning whilst in Norwich – start early. Like many of the other people in Dickinson Humanities 310, I have been having an issue with organizations responding to me, let along promptly responding. So, with the clock ticking ominously in my ears, it was time to get a little bit creative. Instead of volunteering my time and free labor to the local festivals of Norwich and Norfolk like I was counting on (honestly, who doesn’t like fifteen-plus hours of free paper pushing, stuffing envelopes, and filing?), I had to think a bit further outside of the box. So far outside that it has pushed me into pubs… darn.
One of the festivals I am looking at for the research portion of the paper is the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Norwich Beer Festival. According to their website, this organization and festival promote “good-quality cask conditioned beers (commonly referred to as ‘real ale’), allied to traditional Brisith breweries and pubs.” However, what really caught my eye was their goal to support local pubs that serve not only real ale, but also invoke a sense of community.
Last night, I ventured out of my cosy flat and wandered the wet streets of Norwich. I had four main questions that I wanted to answer; 1) Does this pub serve real ales, as defined by CAMRA? 2) What imported beers/ales does this pub serve? 3) How traditional is the pub in decor? 4) What atmosphere does this pub give off? The three pubs I visited last night answered these questions very differently.
My first stop yesterday evening was to the Mischief Tavern. Of the three pubs I went to, this one was the most traditional. There were lit open fireplaces, a well-worn hard wooden floor, crooked staircases, and even a beautiful pressed tin roof with exposed roof timber beams running through it. It was spacious, yet cozy, with both large and small tables that added to the comfortable sense of community. Although there were a number of loud Americans running and dancing around the place, locals of all ages were enjoying a nice drink.
This pub served real ales, and even had a couple of signs promoting it, but you had to look carefully in order to see them. Much more obvious were the colorful and flashy logos of Budweiser, Heineken, and Tiger.
The second pub I went to was Delaney’s Irish Pub. Now, I know it seems slightly odd that in my quest for a traditional English pub serving traditional English ales, I went to an Irish pub. However, in my defense, other than a couple of Irish proverbs on the walls and the fact that they sold Guinness and Jameson, there was nothing remotely Irish about it. (In fact, I might even go so far as to say it was one of the least-Irish Irish pubs I have ever been to. I am slightly confused as to what exactly “Irish Tapas” is…) They did not sell any real ales and focused mainly on imports of Guinness, Fosters, and the like.
The pub did, however, have an odd sense of community about it. They had pictures of people who had been there previously taped to the underside of the staircase and giant games of Connect-Four and Jenga for patrons to play with. There were seperate high tables that could fit four or five chairs around them at most scattered just far enough away from each other to give the illusion of privacy, but still with the ability to draw another table into conversation.
The third and final pub from last night was the Belgian Monk. The Monk is more high-end, with imported fruity beers and a wonderful sit-down restaurant. The decor in the Monk includes posters in German, a library, and small tables with which to sip a frothy concoction of your choice. A large portion of the indoor tables are taken up by the restaurant, as opposed to the pub, and tend to attract a clientele that has a bit more money than your average college student.
The Belgian Monk is most certainly not a traditional English pub. Much like with the Irish pub, it might seem slightly odd that I am including it at all in my blog post. My reasoning is simple – all of the pubs I visited fill a niche in Norwich. The Belgian Monk is a restaurant, Delaney’s is an Irish pub, and the Mischief is a more traditional English pub. I know that from three pubs, I can’t conclude anything about CAMRA’s presence in Norwich. However, my next time out, I hope to come across more of the traditional English pubs in Norwich that CAMRA rightfully brags about.
Total time – 4 hours