What makes a good pub a really good pub? One with a decent selection of real ale? Live music? Welcoming atmosphere? How often do you really find those things combined in one pub? Well The Fat Cat Brewery Tap does just that. Located on Lawson Road (NR3) the pub (formerly The Cider Shed) has had quite a makeover since new owners Mark and Laura took over in February 2011. Mark, who’s Norwich born and bred and Laura met whilst working in Television on The Trisha Show. Both left Norwich for London and despite both having successful careers in television production they began to crave a change of pace. Owning a pub was a natural change of direction for the pair due to Marks family having a long history of running public houses. In fact Mark’s uncle owns the award winning Fat Cat pub so providing Norwich with a good, well-kept pint is practically in the blood…..
Describing Norwich as ‘’home’’ Mark commented that The Fine City is ‘’ a brilliant place to come back to’’ and they’ve worked hard to turn the pub in to a place that attracts all different age groups, even well-behaved dogs are welcome which I’m sure has given a varied route to many dog walking routines! The exterior of the pub isn’t your usual bricks and mortar but then again, the interior isn’t your usual twee real ale pub either. Norwich was once able to boast a pub for every day of the year, whilst that’s no longer true, you can at least see local references to pub history in the decor, which has been lovingly rescued and salvaged from lofts and storage spaces all over the country (god bless Ebay!) and put back on display to be viewed, admired and discussed.
Even the ceiling space is put to use – and don’t be surprised if you hear these signs being reminisced about by some of the more ‘mature’ drinkers. Recently whilst sipping my cider, I overheard a group of silver-haired foxes reliving their ‘courting’ years through these pub signs…….
The pubs most popular beer is The Fat Cat bitter, which Mark describes as a good session beer due to its strength, also very popular is the Honey Cat ale made with Tom Collers Norfolk honey. With up to 20 real ales available it could be difficult to choose, so if you don’t fancy just working your way through the list, the team are on hand to guide you on the various strengths and flavours to find something you might like.
What do the owners like to drink? Well, Mark’s current favourite is Inferno, but confesses that with so many to choose from it can change daily; Laura likes the honey ale and the fruit beers too. The choice of beverages is vast, so even if you don’t drink real ale there is no shortage of other options including some decent vino too.
Mark and Laura both agree that, ‘’every day is different’’ when asked about what it’s really like to run a pub. They do make it sound like a fun job, hard work – but it’s obvious that they’re passionate about what they do. Mark doesn’t just know the beers he has available, he understands them. He knows the brewing process and cares about the products quality.
Mark and Laura have successfully managed to give a breath of fresh life to this pub. Serving a mixed age range from all over the city means the owners have a keen ear for their customers’ needs and even had a post box installed so their drinkers can suggest new beers, bands or anything else that they feel will make the pub even better than it already is.
The pub has become a popular live music venue; Laura explained that they’re not frightened to try new bands and styles of music. It’s fair to say that The Fat Cat Brewery Tap acts as a brilliant platform for new and existing musicians, which keeps the line-up fresh and interesting. For example next month they are throwing a Proms in the pub day! Details to follow, so keep an eye on The Vintage Norwich events page.
If all that’s still not enough for you, the onsite brewery means you can even have special tour and taste sessions (booking required – see website for details) AND you can buy beer to take away! Like us, The Fat Cat Brewery Tap team love a bit of social media, you can keep an eye on what they’re up to on Facebook and Twitter. Their website has also just been updated, and is not your average pub page….. I highly recommend you read ‘The Tap Crew’ page for some interesting info about the team…….