Our guide to British pubs. This week: The Cidershed, Norwich
The Cidershed is not a shed at all. It’s a red-brick and clapperboard community pub, built in 1956, just across the road from a shop dealing in walnut-veneer wirelesses of similar vintage that look as though they might be permanently tuned to Hancock’s Half-Hour or Two-Way Family Favourites.
Admittedly, the pub sells a lot of cider. But then it also sells a lot of wine, a lot of Belgian lager and a hell of a lot of English draught beer. Eight hand pumps are ranged along a magnificent bar, which is hewn from a giant redwood. Fat Cat bitter, a Norwich speciality, is brewed on the premises and remains a bargain at £2 a pint.
The Shed, as it is generally known, also sells secondhand books from a stall in the hall, the domain of a Liverpudlian who sports a stylish trilby and goes under the name of Dr Zog. “People who are discerning enough to drink here tend to be literate,” he says, gesturing at shelves where an Iain Banks thriller stands spine by spine with Introducing Orchids.
Orchards might be more appropriate. Licensees Ryan and Diana Burnard were London-based artists until they left the East End for East Anglia 15 years ago and began pressing the fruit of Norfolk’s bountiful apple trees.
The popular Monty’s Double is named after the pub’s venerable border collie. At 6.2 per cent alcohol, it could lead to double vision if not treated with respect and consumed with something solid.
Well-filled rolls are readily available and Sunday lunchtimes offer the chance to savour the products of Gourmet Corner. Cheese, olives and cooked meats are available free. “We provide some and customers also bring their own. It’s like a party,” says Ryan.
Jazz, blues and folk bands play on a stage at the far end of the room at a volume that allows conversation to flow like the beer, cider and wine. In this residential corner of Norwich, it would seem, sombre Sundays in suburbia have gone the way of Two-Way Family Favourites. Chris Arnot
The Cidershed, 98-100 Lawson Road, Norwich (01603 413153; www.theshednorwich.co.uk)