PUBLISHED: 06:26 29 September 2014

Humbleyard Vineyard owner Rob Preston and manager Oliver Berney

Humbleyard Vineyard owner Rob Preston and manager Oliver Berney


I thought we’d keep it liquid this month in the hope that we’ll have a wonderful Indian summer and will be able to enjoy these delicious local brews al fresco – ever the optimist!

Microbrewer Carlos Branquinho, Norfolk Square Brewery.Microbrewer Carlos Branquinho, Norfolk Square Brewery.

The eight-acre Humbleyard Vineyard is on the sheltered, sunny, south-facing, well-drained slopes of Mulbarton. So called because the vineyard sits just above the valley where the legislative and taxation court – the Humbleyard Hundred – met monthly during Anglo Saxon times. The vineyard is owned by farmer Robert Preston of Paddock Farm and Farm Shop, who has had a lifelong passion and interest in wine. He chose the nine varieties of grapes most suited to our Norfolk climate that would produce a range of excellent white, rosé, still and sparkling wines.

The 10,000 vines were first planted in 2010 with two further plantings over the next couple of years. The grapes are made into award-winning wine at Shawsgate Winery in Framlingham.

In June this year both the Humbleyard White and Rosé wines achieved silver medals in the East of England Wine Association’s Awards.

As rosé fans – but by no means connoisseurs – we thoroughly enjoyed the Humbleyard dry 2013 rosé, made from red Rondo and white Reichensteiner grapes. The Rondo vine, the main component here, has a deep ruby red grape. It yields well and ripens early. We found the wine to be very fresh and crisp yet with residual sweetness and at its best lightly chilled. It retails at £10.95 a bottle or £10 a bottle if you buy six from Paddock Farm Shop. You will be able to purchase it online in the near future.

Norfolk Square Brewery is an award-winning microbrewery at Stokesby, near Great Yarmouth, set up by Carlos Branquinho in 2008. The brewery makes five regular beers but also a range of more specialist beers. Carlos tells me that it is all about quality not quantity at his brewery. He likes to “play” with beer, saying: “It’s all about having fun and I like to take my work home with me!” Having tasted three of his beers I’m not at all surprised!

Pi – 3.8pc alcohol by volume (ABV) – is a light amber, fizzy brew. We found it to be very fresh and lightly citrusy, yet with a bitter smooth after taste. Pi is brewed using Norfolk malts and two hops – one which has a sweet and spicy aroma and the other a high alpha bittering hop.

Sunshiny – 4.5pc ABV – has a very light colour with a bright, refreshing taste. It is slightly fragrant and quite strong. Norfolk Square Brewery say that Sunshiny is brewed using the finest local malts, giving the ale its rich, full-bodied, smooth flavour. It is a single hop brew using a fragrant and flowery aroma hop with a citrus character, and won silver in CAMRA’s Real Ale in a Bottle Award Norfolk 2012 Special Category.

B52 – 4.8pc ABV – is light amber, quite fizzy, smooth and hoppy, slightly sweet, with a taste that fills the whole mouth. It is brewed using a single hop that imparts a delicious blackcurrant undertone.

Buy Norfolk Square Brewery’s beers at Jarrold’s in Norwich and Bakers and Larners at Holt, and also from The Real Ale Shop, at Wells and online. Norwich pubs The Murderers, The Plasterers and The Kings Head on Magdalen Street stock the beers too.

Kitchen essential

Dorling Kindersley and The Soil Association’s The Preserving Book by Lynda Brown (£16.99) is a firm favourite of mine and especially useful at this time of the year when I find I have a glut in my veg garden. It not only covers the boring yet essential stuff – good hygiene, food safety and equipment – but also teaches how to preserve almost any fruit, veg or herb you can imagine with information on natural storage, drying, freezing, bottling, sweet and savoury preserves, pickling, smoking, brewing, salting, curing and charcuterie in easy well illustrated and explained steps.

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