We often get asked where we got our name from. Let's face it, we're a traditional British boozer and "The Fat Cat" isn't exactly the most traditional of British pub names. So, back in 1991, when Colin & Marjie Keatley decided to open a real ale pub in Norwich, why did they choose to name it 'The Fat Cat'? It's pretty simple....they stole the name! Well, not stole, borrowed really...
Before our Fat Cat there was another Fat Cat. A unique real ale public house in the northern city of Sheffield. Colin Keatley first read about it in a national newspaper supliment and his interest was instantly piqued.
The Fat Cat, Sheffield was set up by Dave Wickett 1981. Traditional breweriana adorned the walls and the cellars were stocked full of cask conditioned real ales. (Sound familiar?). Bear in mind the pub scene of the 80's was a very different story to what it is today. Multi-national brewers had all but destroyed cask conditioned ale in favour of tasteless top-pressure kegged beer. (Watney's anyone?). The Fat Cat, Sheffield was the perfect antidote to this. In 1990 Dave Witckett also set up Kelham Island Brewery and began brewing a range of beers to sell in his pub alongside a range of cask-conditioned guest ales from across the UK. At this time, Colin had already bought The New Inn and was in the process of a full refurbishment. All that was left to do was decide on a snappy name for the place. Thus, as a nod to the original Fat Cat, Colin gave Dave Wickett a phone call and politely enquired as to the possibility of using the same pub name. Dave Wickett, ever the businessman, agreed as long as Colin would have a cask or two of his Kelham Island brews. As a keen eyed customer would already realise this is an agreement still honoured to this day, 30 years on, as Kelham Island Pale Rider is still regularly sold here.
The story doesn't end there. After 12 years and 2 CAMRA National Pub of the Year awards The Fat Cat (Our one) was gaining quite the reputation in the real ale industry. As a result Colin was invited to be a judge at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival 2004. Sat on the blind-tasting panel next to James May (Top Gear) of all people. The category they were to judge was "Strong Beers of the Year". Whether it was fate, luck, or a superior real ale palate Colin, James May and the rest of the panel chose Kelham Island Pale Rider as the winner. From there it went on to win "Champion Beer of Britain 2004". So, all those years after Dave Wicket allowed Colin to use 'The Fat Cat' as the name of this new pub the favour was repaid in the way of a Champion Beer of Great Britain gong.
Dave Wicket has since sadly passed away. I believe his son is currently running The Fat Cat, Sheffield. I visited a couple of months a go and can thoroughly recommend it.
R.I.P Dave Wickett. The original Fat Cat. Legend.
*** UPDATE ***
Unfortunately due to the financial pressure of lockdown, rising prices and many other factors the Kelham Island brewery has been forced to close its doors and brew for the final time. It seems the pub, however, will remain open as usual. We wish the Kelham Island Brewery Team all the best for the future. Pale Rider will be sorely missed by our punters!
THE FAT CAT, 23 Alma Street, Sheffield, S3 8SA
Dave Wickett, and his wife Helen.
(After Winning Champion Beer of Britain 2004 for Kelham Island Pale Rider)