The Ultimate Suffolk Beer Guide
Photo (c) Adnams
Suffolk’s brewing history stretches back almost 1,000 years, when monks known as the ‘cerevisiarii’ were brewing ale on the site of the Great Abbey in Bury St Edmunds. Fast-forward to today, and just a stone’s throw from the same spot you’ll find the Greene King Brewery, whose IPA and Abbott Ale are drunk up and down the country.
A few centuries after the cerevisiarii were brewing in Bury St Edmunds, alewives were causing trouble in Southwold with the price of their beer. Now the salty air of this seaside town mingles with malty clouds billowing from the Adnams Sole Bay Brewery, as it produces household-name beers like Broadside and Southwold Bitter.
Both Adnams and Greene King offer behind-the-scenes tours, allowing you to learn the secrets of their master brewers and enjoy a tutored beer tasting session. You can find more information about these tours on the Adnams and Greene King websites.
Another Suffolk brewery that invites you to explore its inner workings is St Peter’s Brewery near Bungay. Undoubtedly the most beautiful brewery in Suffolk, St Peter’s is housed in old agricultural buildings beside a lake in one of the most remote and historic areas in the county, and perhaps even in England.St Peter's Brewery near Bungay is one of the most beautiful in Britain
Photo (c) St Peter's Brewery
Suffolk Pubs and Microbreweries
Alongside Suffolk’s big-name breweries are around thirty microbreweries, such as the Green Jack Brewery in Lowestoft, which also has the claim to fame of being the most easterly brewery in the UK. You can try Green Jack favourites ‘Orange Wheat Beer’ and ‘Ripper’ at the brewery’s pub, the Triangle Tavern in Lowestoft.
Nearby in Gisleham you’ll find the Trinity Brewery, who make excellent tasting real ales using East Anglian barley and water from their ancient well; and further south near Framlingham you’ll find the Earl Soham Brewery, whose beers are sold in the brewery’s pub, the Victoria.
Other brewery pubs include the Rampant Horse Inn in Needham Market, which is stocked by craft beers made by the family-run farm brewery Calvor’s, and the Green Dragon in Bungay, which the Huffington Post described as probably the best pub in the known world in this blog. However, the most unusual brewery pub of all has to be the Old Cannon in Bury St Edmunds, where part of the brewing process takes place in the bar!
When it comes to brewery pubs in stunning settings, you can’t do better than the Kings Head in Bildeston. Built in 1530 in what was then a thriving Suffolk Wool Town, the Kings Head’s 14th century bar serves real ales brewed in its adjoining brewery. The White Lion brewery pub near Woodbridge also has a location to be proud of, being in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB and situated near the ancient Anglo-Saxon site of Sutton Hoo.
If you like your beer to come with environmental credentials, head to the Mill Green Brewery, where the eco-brewing practices have won the brewers several green awards. The Mill Green Brewery is situated behind The White Horse pub in Edwardstone, a village in the picturesque countryside around Sudbury.
Photo (c) The Kings Head
Suffolk Beer Festivals
Beer festivals large and small happen all across Suffolk throughout the year, from tiny beer-garden barbecues to three-day weekenders attended by thousands of people. Here are just some of the beer festivals we’d raise a glass to:
The winter beer festival in February and dark beer festival in May at the White Horse in Edmonstone are two of the first festivals of the season. As you’d expect, they feature plenty of eco-beers from the adjoining Mill Green Brewery. The Kings Head in Bildeston also kicks off its beer celebrations in May, with a weekend festival including many beers from its brewery.
June 2016 will see the 33rd Ipswich Beer Festival, a family-friendly festival featuring over 180 beers from East Anglia and the rest of the world. The following month, close to 20,000 beer lovers will flock to Jimmy’s Farm in Ipswich for Jimmy’s Sausage & Beer Festival, a weekend of food, beer and live music.
Over the August bank holiday an annual beer festival takes place at the Half Moon Inn in Belchamp St Paul, on the Suffolk/Essex border. This picturesque little pub’s festival features around 30 real ales, music and a BBQ, and is great for those who like their festivals low-key. Also taking place in August are The Old Cannon Brewery’s beer festival, the White Horse in Rendham’s beer festival, and the beer festival at the Sibton White Horse, which brings beer connoisseurs together in this award-winning country pub.
The Dove Street Inn in Ipswich holds three beer festivals throughout the year, in May, August and November; and the Triangle Tavern in Lowestoft also holds three, in Easter, August and at Christmas time. Translation? Celebrating Suffolk beer never stops – not even in the winter!You can enjoy a pint of Suffolk beer by the coast all year round at the Bell Inn in Walberswick
Photo (c) Adnams