Monday, 25 September 2017 00:00

Cheers! Norfolk opticians roll out the barrels in centenary celebration

Written by  The All Things Norfolk Team
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Martin Green, Fundraising Manager of children’s charity Break (second right),  celebrates the success of Cat’s Eyes ale with (L to R) Dipple & Conway Opticians’ Group Manager Neil McDonald and Partners Damian Conway and James Conway.  Picture Credit Newsmakers              Martin Green, Fundraising Manager of children’s charity Break (second right), celebrates the success of Cat’s Eyes ale with (L to R) Dipple & Conway Opticians’ Group Manager Neil McDonald and Partners Damian Conway and James Conway. Picture Credit Newsmakers

It was “Cheers!” 14,500 times over when representatives of children’s charity Break dropped in at Norfolk opticians Dipple & Conway.

Norwich’s Fat Cat Brewery brewed a special commemorative beer for a unique glasses-meets-glasses initiative to celebrate the centenary of Dipple & Conway’s independent practice.

Long-time supporters of Break, Dipple & Conway promised to donate 10p for every pint sold in the initial three-month run of Cat’s Eyes ale, brewed just in time for last year’s Norwich Beer Festival. And the tipple proved so popular with Norfolk’s real ale drinkers that the family firm found themselves pulling a cheque for £1,450.

“I was expecting to be writing a cheque for around £500,” laughed Dipple & Conway director Damian Conway. “Instead we’re delighted to be giving our friends from Break around three times that. It’s astonishing – 14,500 pints is enough to fill a small swimming pool!”


Damian Conway, Director of Dipple & Conway Opticians, celebrates the success of Cat’s Eyes ale with Martin Green, Fundraising Manager of children’s charity Break. Picture Credit Newsmakers  

In fact Cat’s Eyes has proved so popular that, a year on from its launch, it is still being brewed as a session beer and sold throughout the Fat Cat group.

It has even tickled tastebuds of discerning drinkers throughout the East of England, having been sold at a guest beer by Bateman’s Brewery – whose pub chain runs from Norfolk to Yorkshire, including Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

“It’s been a phenomenal success,” said CAMRA enthusiast Damian, who created the distinctive flavour of the Cat’s Eyes recipe alongside his wife Justine, brother James and son Ben – the fourth generation of the Conway family to run a business started by Thomas Conway in 1916.

“It’s a 4% abv easy-drinking ale with a light, summery ‘hoppy’ flavour; an eminently quaffable beer,” enthused Damian. “Curating our own celebration ale has been a very enjoyable way to mark the centenary of our business.

“We are a family-orientated business and we love being part of the local community, supporting other local businesses, jobs and charities – as well as meeting people’s eye-care needs. We thought our own Cat’s Eyes brew would be a novel way of saying ‘thank you’ to the community for the way it has supported us for 100 years.”

A green-eyed puss sporting a pair of delightfully over-sized plum-coloured ‘catseyes’ spectacle frames that Dame Edna Everage would be proud of – inspired by Damian and Justine’s much-loved pet CoCo – was commissioned for pump clip and beer mat artwork to support the sale of Dipple & Conway’s special brew.


Damian and Justine’s much-loved pet Coco modelled for the Cat’s Eyes ale artwork 


Over the years Dipple & Conway has raised more than £15,000 for Break, which supports vulnerable children, young people and families across East Anglia. That total will be soon be swelled further when Group Manager Neil McDonald runs in the Lowestoft Half Marathon on October 1.

Dipple & Conway’s dedication for the Break cause inspired the charity’s patron, BT Vision’s Premier League front man Jake Humphrey, himself a real ale enthusiast, to lend a hand stirring the mash for the initial brew at the Fat Cat Brewery.

Martin Green, Break’s Fundraising Manager, said Dipple and Conway’s support over many years has been “overwhelming” – and he was impressed by their ingenuity.

“The centenary beer was an unusual but very effective method of raising money. It was a very clever way to support us,” he said. “The whole family are brilliant; they always go the extra mile.”

“I would also like to thank everyone who bought a pint or two of Cat’s Eyes...which, from personal experience, I can say is very nice indeed!”


Damian Conway, Director of Dipple & Conway Opticians, celebrates the success of Cat’s Eyes ale with Martin Green, Fundraising Manager of children’s charity Break. Picture Credit Newsmakers  

Last modified on Sunday, 13 January 2019 15:21

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