Foodie launches cheese, beer, and gin walking tours in Norwich

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

“For years we’ve been told not to play with our food – but I am here to say that playing with food is exactly what we should be doing!”

Cheryl Cade doesn’t believe in playing it safe when it comes to experimenting with food.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Her new beer and cheese walking tours of Norwich are a case in point: while most of us have heard about pairing cheese and wine, learning which beer to drink with which cheese makes for a walk full of flavour.

“Beer and cheese make a brilliant pair and make a far better match than lots of people might think,” said Cheryl, “the beer cuts through the richness of lots of cheese and there are lots of flavours that are just great together.

“Norwich is at the heart of one of the best barley and malt producing areas in the world and so it stands to reason that Norfolk has some of the best breweries, and the cheese made her is just incredible.”

Frankly, she had me at ‘cheese’.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Cheryl, who lives in Norwich, offers a range of delicious walking tours in the Fine City which showcase Norfolk’s finest cheese, beer, gin and more.

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The Historic Food and Drink Tour of Norwich takes in the Georgian Assembly House, the Norman market and the medieval Elm Hill with stops for loose leaf tea, mushy peas and mint sauce, fish and chips, gin and sorbet and cake, while the Brewery Tap Room Tour includes visits to historic city pubs such as The King’s Head and the Coach and Horses.

There’s a Norwich Tea, Coffee and Cake Tour, a Silver Triangle Gin Tour and a four-hour City of Ale Beer and Cheese Tour which includes five pubs, five beers and five cheeses.

And then there are the regular weekly tours, the walking Gin Tour that travels through the history of Norwich and this popular spirit and the Saturday Cheese Tour through the fromage that makes the city grate (sorry).

“Cheese, gin, beer, tea, cake…these are things that I love,” says Cheryl, “and I really love telling people all about them and sharing what I’ve learned.”

The tour guide with a difference has really raised the bar (there are just TOO many opportunities for puns) when it comes to knowing her subject matter.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

A beer and cheese educator, beer sommelier, Academy of Cheese member, writer for the British Guild of Beer and international beer judge, Cheryl pairs her foodie know-how with her experience as an educator and keen historian.

Born across in Duxford in Cambrideshire, close to the famous Imperial War Museum (“There’s a film where I play a starring role – in my pram being pushed across the airfield by a lady wearing a short skirt!”), one of Cheryl’s first memories offered a hint as to her future.

“I can remember being about six, my sister Karen was about three, and we were sitting under a table at a German keller. A cloth covered the table and meant that no one could see I was smuggling little sips of beer to us both!” she laughed.

“They found us peacefully asleep under the table some time later! And to this day, I’ve kept giving her beer!”

Cheryl’s family moved to Norfolk in 1977, and her food memories of the time will be recognisable to many: Arctic Roll, her grandma’s Norfolk dumplings with mince, gravy and processed peas and the infamous savoury duck from Norwich Market.

“It was like haslet [offal] on acid,” she laughed, “a bit like a meatloaf-cum-haggis shaped into a ball. You’d slice it up, fry it and put it in sandwiches. Lovely!”

With moves around the county, the family ended up in Great Yarmouth

“Growing up, I definitely gained an appreciation of good food and drink and the effort and time it took to make it,” she said.

Cheryl met husband-to-be Mark when she was 17 and after initial plans to become an archaeologist (or rather the lead of digs at Pompeii) fell at the Latin O’level hurdle – Latin wasn’t on the curriculum in Yarmouth at that point – she decided to change direction.

She studied art and fashion at Great Yarmouth College of Art and Design, then went to Stafford while Mark studied engineering. The couple moved across the country several times – always keeping a base in Norfolk – with Cheryl taking on a number of different jobs.

Back in Norfolk, she spent eight years working in visitor services at Norwich Castle Museum before changing direction and joining the Prison Service as an art teacher.

A BA in Education followed, with jobs at schools, colleges and for national disability charity Sense, all while still creating her own arts, crafts and jewellery to sell.

Meanwhile, a quiet love affair was beginning in the Cade household.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide.

Cheryl Cade Cheese and Beer Norwich tour guide. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

“It was one of those years when I didn’t have a clue what to buy Mark for Christmas, so I got him a home brewing kit. He caught the beer bug, then I did too, by osmosis,” she said.

“We went to Belgium and went on a beer tour and loved it. I started working at the Norwich Beer Festival  - I now manage the World Beer Bar – and we started to think about how we could make something we really enjoyed into a living.”

Plans to open a beer shop were put on ice after business advice and a beer stall on the market was also given a thumbs down, so the pair started a new venture, beer tours in Europe. And then the red tape of Brexit put paid to that, too.

“It was heartbreaking, as we loved the tours and I did get quite down, but I’m resourceful and I had my teaching, so I threw myself into that,” Cheryl said.

Friends and those who had been on Cheryl’s European beer tours were quick to suggest that she should offer something similar in Norwich, and an idea began to brew.

She signed up with Tours by Locals, decided to widen her repertoire with cheese training (“and realised I might love cheese even more than I love beer!”) and, a week before the first lockdown, Cheryl launched her new tours.

“Great timing, eh?” she laughs, “but actually, that breathing space gave me the time I needed to really hone what I was doing and create something really great.”

As soon as she was able, the tours began and a flood of customers signed up to find out more about Norwich’s food and drink heritage.

“As far as possible, every product I showcase is local,” said Cheryl, “all the gins are local, all the cheese is local, the beer is local and in the case of the tea, the places that sell and serve it are local!

“It’s so wonderful to share what I love with people in the city I love and to introduce them to new flavours and local produce. Food and drink is an international language that transcends everything.

“I just want to spread the love, help local businesses and producers and give people a really great few hours in Norwich. I’ve been blown away at how many people have come along on the journey with me and look forward to introducing even more people to Norfolk’s finest!”

I couldn’t end without asking for Cheryl’s Desert Island cheese and beer choices.

She’s understandably torn: her cheese would be Époisses from Burgundy, a strong, washed-rind cheese, and probably Baltic Trader from Lowestoft-based Green Jack Brewing Company, a strong stout brewed with molasses and three roasted malts.

“Asking me to choose my favourites is like asking someone to choose between their children,” Cheryl laughs, “perhaps I should have a Desert Island cheeseboard instead…”

Visit cherylcade.com for more information. Cheryl can also tailor bespoke tours for guests.