Try Kinder Bueno stout at Norfolk's first beer cafe

Owners of the Chubby Seal craft beer cafe at Holt, Hayley Tullberg and her brother, Luke Spackman. P

Owners of the Chubby Seal craft beer cafe at Holt, Hayley Tullberg and her brother, Luke Spackman - Credit: Archant 2022

Norfolk has more than 1,000 pubs. Over one thousand places where you can pull up a stool, grab a packet of crisps or a Scotch egg (if you're lucky) and sip on a brew - often made within in a 50-mile radius.
Our pubs are community hubs, restaurants...some of them even shops. 

The Chubby Seal craft beer cafe at Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Chubby Seal craft beer cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022


But, as I discovered recently, they're not the only places you can enjoy a pint. Have you heard of The Chubby Seal? Set in beautiful Holt, a favourite with daytrippers to the county, this cafe at Shire Hall Plain is really rather unique. Why? It specialises in beer.
So, as well as serving up a selection of artisan snacks (and in warmer weather, freshly baked scones), and properly-made barista coffee, the team can offer you a huge range of fermented beverages to sample.

Craft beer badges on the walls at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Craft beer badges on the walls at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022


Co-owned by siblings Hayley Tullberg and Luke Spackman, The Chubby Seal's USP is its regularly-changing craft beer offering.
"It's what people come to us for," says Hayley. "You don't normally come in and get the same beer and that’s why people love it because you’ll always be able to sample something different."
The idea for the cafe came from Luke during his travels around Australia and New Zealand, where he discovered and fell in love with craft beer, his favourite being a brand called Fat Yak.

A beer paddle of three thirds of a pint of craft beers, Pilsener, Bad Kitty, and Sqwawk, at the Chub

A beer paddle of three thirds of a pint of craft beers, Pilsener, Bad Kitty, and Sqwawk, at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022

Craft beer at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Craft beer at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022


"He's really passionate about it," says Hayley. "He knows everything there is to know about craft beer, and when people come in, he can tell them all about the beer, where it’s come from and the flavours. He’s really good at all that."
The six-keg line-up at The Chubby Seal is changed weekly, with many of the beers unavailable elsewhere locally. You'll find an interesting collection that includes sours, lager, strong IPAs, hazy pale ales and flavoured stouts. Kinder Bueno stout anyone? 
Stock is sourced from small batch breweries based all over the country, including Polly's from Wales, Left-Handed Giant from Bristol, Cloudwater from Manchester, and Burnt Mill, an award-winning business in Suffolk.

Craft beer at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt

Craft beer at the Chubby Seal cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022


"People who are really into their craft beers will come in and say, 'Wow, you’ve got that on tap!' because you don’t often see it around," Hayley explains.
This isn't just a place to visit for beer connoisseurs though. If you have no knowledge, it's no problem, as Luke is there to guide. Each customer is presented with notes all about the beers on offer, including the taste, style, how it's made and where it's come from.
Servings are available in one third, half or three quarters of a pint, as well as a standard pint measure, and for this there's good reason, as Hayley says: "Some of our beers are around 8% so we don't really want to be serving pints of it as it's very strong!"

Bar snacks at the Chubby Seal craft beers cafe at Holt. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Bar snacks at the Chubby Seal craft beers cafe at Holt - Credit: Archant 2022


A nice selection of gins is also offered (including Norfolk's Bullards gin) alongside wine, and takeaways of whatever's on tap that week, siphoned into 1lt bottles.
Hayley and Luke are very much looking forward to the new year with their young business, which was launched 18 months before the pandemic. With the holiday and tourist trade very much in view, they're looking of make the most of their spacious frontage in their beautiful location.
The Chubby Seal is open Tuesday to Friday, 2-8pm, Friday and Saturday 2-9pm.
Instagram: Chubbysealbeer