Tributes paid to Wolf Brewery founder Wolfe Witham
His legacy includes the founding of Attleborough’s Wolf Brewery and his part in ushering in a new era of quality real ale drinking in Norfolk.
Wolfe Witham, who died suddenly on March 1, aged 65, set up Wolf Brewery on part of the former Gaymers cider plant in 1995 with his partner Sonja Kerridge.
He has been credited by his step-daughter, Alex Kerridge, as helping to re-introduce micro-brewing to Norfolk, and since then a huge range of brewers have established in Norfolk, including in this area.
Mr Witham sold the brewery in 2005 but kept some involvement before retiring in 2007.
Miss Kerridge said: “He was just such a leading figure in the real ale industry in Norfolk.
“He inspired so many more people to open breweries. Beer and brewing consumed his life - it was what he loved.”
Miss Kerridge, who runs The Beehive pub in Leopold Road in Norwich, said he was also a canny businessman and a “great ideas man”, able to market and sell his beer successfully.
His memorable name, 6ft 8ins frame, and trademark bow tie made him an instantly recognisable figure, and an ideal ‘face’ of the brewery.
He was also known in Norwich for running pioneering The Reindeer home-brew pub in Norwich from 1985 to the early 1990s.
Mr Witham had been walking his step-daughter’s dogs on Marston Marshes in Norwich when he collapsed on Sunday, March 1 and could not be saved.
Miss Kerridge said: “He was a very caring and thoughtful man and would always want to help out. When I first took on The Beehive, his encouragement was invaluable.”
Warren Wordsworth, chairman of the Norwich and Norfolk branch of the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “Wolfe was certainly very influential. He showed you could establish a brewery and be successful. There are now more than 30 breweries in the county of Norfolk.
“He was not only passionate about beer, he was also a very successful businessman.”