David and Goliath battle sees little brewery beat giant

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A family-run brewery has beaten Norfolk’s largest brewery to the finals of the East of England Co-op Producer of the Year competition.

The Norfolk Brewhouse narrowly beat Woodforde’s Brewery - who already boast 133 awards for their beer – to be crowned Norfolk County Winner.

The smaller business impressed students during a mini beer festival at Norwich’s University of East Anglia to secure public votes.

It won by just 41 votes – securing 3,233 to Woodforde’s Brewery’s 3,192.

David Holliday, who runs The Norfolk Brewhouse with his wife Rachel, said: “We are thrilled to have made such a massive impact on shoppers who sampled our ales and lagers.

“This is only a small team but we put our hearts and soul into what we do.”

This is not the first time The Norfolk Brewhouse has been rewarded for its work. Its ale and lagers are multi-award-winners recognised by the Society of Independent Brewers Awards nationally and regionally. They also recently received recognition at the North Norfolk Business Awards where they walked away with the title of Small Business of the Year.

Mr Holliday said: “We are always delighted to have our work rewarded but for this competition, so much of the result rested on the votes from the public. To have this kind of feedback from customers is invaluable.

“On top of that, the event gave us the excuse for a good bit of banter between us and Woodforde’s Brewery which was fun.”

During the event the Norfolk Brewhouse and Woodforde’s Brewery treated students at the University of East Anglia to samples of a selection of ales in exchange for votes.

Among these was the Norfolk Brewhouse’s gluten-free Moon Gazer Pacific Pale Ale, which was inspired by a member of the team being diagnosed with coeliac disease.

The beer festival was one of three events held to find county winners for Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk.

Jam producer Thursday Cottage beat sandwich-maker Raynor’s to be named Essex County Champion at an afternoon tea for over 70s and under sevens.

Meanwhile, The Cake Shop bakery secured more votes than Choose Spice at a Valentine’s Day taste test in Woodbridge to find a Suffolk County Champion.

All three of the county winners will now meet a panel of food and farming experts before the overall Producer of the Year 2018 is crowned at the annual East of England Co-op Supplier Supper on 14 March.

Roger Grosvenor, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “The competition has been as fun as it has been fierce, with a tea party, a beer festival and a Valentine’s Day taste test resulting in an incredible 19,000 public votes.

“We have seen primary school children sharing scones with care home residents, watched two brewers go head-to-head at the University of East Anglia and seen a real love for food expressed by two producers who are friends as well as rivals.

“Judges will now be taking a look at the three county champions to decide on an overall winner.”

The East of England Co-op works with approximately 100 local producers through its multi-award winning Sourced Locally initiative, which has generated millions of pounds for the regional economy since launching in 2007.

Producer of the Year plays a vital role in continuing the Sourced Locally ethos by encouraging shoppers to consciously buy local and quality produce throughout the year.