The pretty seaside town of Southwold on the east Suffolk coast has been the home of Adnams brewery for 150 years. Originally dedicated to brewing traditional ales like Broadside and Southwold Bitter, they have since diversified to produce innovative lagers and ciders, and low alcohol beers like Ghost Ship and Sole Star that have become firm favourites with designated drivers. Additionally, Adnams now have their own distillery producing award-winning gins, vodka, and whisky, and are successful wine merchants, retailers, publicans, and hoteliers. View photos from the event in our Flickr album here:
I am local to the area and have long been a fan of Adnams beers. I once even tried (unsuccessfully) to get a job in their QA labs just after leaving sixth form. Needless to say, things have changed a lot in the 40 years since, and Adnams beers have gone from being locally delivered by dray horse and cart to being internationally available. No wonder then that, when the IFST’s Eastern branch was offered the opportunity of a technical tour of the brewery, we jumped at the chance and the date was set for Thursday 28th April.
The visit attracted a good crowd and the 2-hour tour, expertly hosted by Dan the Head Brewer, took us through the brewery and brewing process and included an introduction to the distillery and how that links with the brewery.
The level of technical expertise and experience required to produce both the well-established brews and innovative new ones was very impressive. Dan explained how the water, grain, hops, and yeast strains all interact to create a great-tasting and consistent product. Those interested in the sensory characteristics of flavour and smell were particularly impressed by just how delicate and complex the process can be.
Like many other conscientious companies these days, Adnams is also implementing new and better ways of working to be more efficient and reduce their demand for natural resources. This includes a commitment to using locally sourced ingredients, and the management of around one million bees at their environmentally-friendly distribution centre in Reydon, which has a sedum roof.
And, of course, like any well-organised brewery tour, the visit concluded in a cosy on-site bar with a tutored tasting of Adnams beers, conducted by Dan. Many in the group were already familiar with Adnams beers and were delighted to be able to sample some of the newer brews and reminisce about their first experiences of the older ones.
Unfortunately, there was no time to visit the Adnams Brewery shop (https://adnams.co.uk/pages/shop-adnams) but Dan was kind enough to provide a couple of complimentary beers to Federico, our student member, and an Adnams ‘Old’ ale bottle to Bob, our Chair, to add to his collection.
The Eastern Branch Committee would like to offer their sincere thanks to the team at Adnams, in particular, Dan, Fergus and James, and to the IFST HQ Team for their support in organising a most enjoyable tour.
IFST’s Eastern Branch