An A to Z of East Anglian ale - how many have you tried?
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
There’s no stopping the British craft beer industry. During the last 10 years it’s exploded – and there’s never been so much choice.
East Anglia has a long, important history in brewing. Not only are some of the world’s finest beer-making grains (such as barley) grown in the east, but it also once a thriving hub for maltings.
Few of Suffolk and Norfolk’s old breweries have survived. But those that remain are today joined by a plethora of keen and passionate new wave beer makers.
Here is our homage to them. How many of these have you tried?
A - Autumn Leaf, 3.8%, Cabin Brewery
An amber ale made in a cottage industry, petite brewery in the village of Bildeston – a two-barrel plant in a ‘cabin’ where eight types of beer are crafted just a few times a week, from super pale ale to Porter.
Autumn Leaf is made with New World hops, and is late hopped with Cascade for a citrussy, fruity finish. Cabinbrewery.co.uk
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B – Black Horse Stout, 4.3%, Briarbank Brewing Company
This is a lusciously creamy topped, full bodied dark stout with a slightly sweet hint, smoothness from the addition of oat malt, and a hint of bitterness lent by Perle hops. It’s named for the award-winning brewery’s location in a former Lloyds Bank building close to Ipswich Waterfront. Pop in for a bite to eat and a pint in the taproom, or order online. Briarbank.org
C – Cold Brew Porter, 4.7%, Brewshed
An exceptional porter infused with Honduran Java beans for a velvety, rich flavour profile redolent of coffee and chocolate. Brewshed is a 12-barrel craft brewery in Bury St Edmunds. You can buy direct from The Beerhouse, or try in any of the Gusto Pronto group pubs. They also brew Hotel Chocolat’s beers – available nationwide. Brewshedbrewery.co.uk
D – Defunkt IPA, 6.9%, Little Earth Project
A bold, strong, bitter, hoppy barrel-aged beer crafted with Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo hops, which give the finished drink pops of orange and grapefruit. This is a cool little craft brewery in the East Anglian countryside making wild yeasted, natural brews (often with a bit of funk) using barley grown on their own fields. Beers are made in small batches and stored in oak barrels. And the entire project is as sustainable as possible. For stockists see littleearthproject.com
E – Edith Cavell, 3.7%, Wolf Brewery
Named for the heroic Norfolk nurse, this is a lovely, golden bronze beer. Smooth, but bright with hops and blackcurrant notes. She’s a past winner of Champion Beer of East Anglia. Wolf Brewery, near Attleborough, uses Norfolk malt, traditional hops, and water from its own bore hole to make its cask ales and bottled beers. You can visit the shop Monday to Friday. Wolfbrewery.com
F – Farmers Flagon, 4.3%, St Peter’s Brewery
This beer was brewed especially to celebrate NFU’s 100 years in Suffolk. It’s a red ale made with Flagon heritage malted barley, which lends a spicy, peppery, woody notes to the finished beer. St Peter’s is a destination brewery in South Elmham near Bungay, making organic, low alcohol, fruit and gluten-free beers alongside classic pale ales and stouts. It’s one of the oldest craft breweries in East Anglia, known for its iconic oval-shaped bottles, which make beautiful vases after use. On site there’s a tap room and shop, and a café/restaurant. Find the beer in local pubs, bottled in local shops and online. Stpetersbrewery.co.uk
G – Ghost Ship, 4.5%, Adnams
Broadside might traditionally be this historic brewer’s flagship beer, but Ghost Ship has become one of the region’s most beloved ales – on tap at bars, and found in bottles, everywhere. It’s a properly refreshing drop. Crisp and bright from the inclusion of Citra hops, with resinous notes from Chinook, and a herbal twang from Columbus. There’s a 0.5% version too, which is one of the better low alcohol beers. Adnams runs excellent tours from its tap room at Southwold, where you can learn more about the 150-year-old brand’s past, and sustainable, eco credentials. Adnams.co.uk
H – Honey Panther, 4%, Panther Brewery
An award-winning light golden ale, made with German hops, and finished with real honey for a slightly sweet, almost floral finish. Panther is an award-winning brewery making bottled and cask conditioned ales with local barley, available across East Anglia and directly from their shop at Reepham from Monday to Saturday. The brewery name alludes to a legendary creature said to have been seen prowling around north Norfolk.
I – Into The Woods, 4.5%, Star Wing Brewery
This originated as a winter beer, but now forms part of the brewery’s core range. The addition of Simcor and Amarillo hops lend this a smooth, slightly spicy finish, and there’s almost a hint of chocolate in there too. Try the beer, alongside eight others, at the tap room and café in Redgrave where there are great events throughout the year. You’ll find the beers in local shops and online. Strarwingbrewery.com
J – Jasmine Blonde, 4.4%, Artefact Brewing
A twist on a classic blonde, made with a blend of malts including Marris Otter, Simcoe, Celiea and Mandarina Bavaria hops, and jasmine green tea. It’s a delicate, floral, subtle beer that will work beautifully with food. Artefact is a craft brewer near Bury St Edmunds, making small batch beers with very interesting flavour profiles. Artefactbrewing.com
L – Lemon & Ginger, 4%, Humpty Dumpty Brewery
A refreshing amber ale with hints of lemon and ginger – just the thing to revive you as winter blends into spring. Also worth trying is the brewer’s Swallowtail amber ale – their most award-winning champion brew. The brewery’s delightful name is taken from a steam locomotive that used to operate on the Norwich to Lowestoft line. The 11-barrel plant produces cask and bottled real ales available locally in pubs and shops and the brewery shop in Reedham (where you can take advantage of regular specials) is open Wednesday to Saturday, 12noon to 5pm. Humtpydumptybrewery.com
M – Mosquito IPA, 5.2%, Roughacre Brewery
This is a premium pale ale brewed with Amarillo, Summit, Columbus and Cascade hops which embue it with hints of spice, citrus and pine – with touch of fruitiness. The brewery, in Clare, makes excellent ales in small batches with the finest malts, and is often experimenting, with the range including everything from a fresh coffee porter to a smoked porter and even a blood red beer! They’re all veggie friendly. Buy at roughacre.com
N – NIbbler, 4%, Moon Gazer (Norfolk Brewhouse)
This is a fantastic spicy, malted, full-bodied ruby ale that goes a treat alongside a cheeseboard. It’s produced by the award-winning Norfolk Brewhouse, by a team who are super passionate about using Norfolk produce, and being part of the local food and drink community. Malted barley is sourced in the county. Water is drawn from their own well. And they use local British hops – with a few others from around the world. All the Moon Gazer ales are given East Anglian nicknames for the brown hare, including Nibbler. Find in pubs, and in shops around the east as well as online. Moongazerales.co.uk
O – On The Wing, 4.5%, Ampersand Brew Co
A pale ale with softness from malted oats, and bursting with citrus and rounded tropical flavours from Amarillo, Citra, Ekuanot and Chinook hops. Ampersand makes some awesome, exciting beers in Diss, including Cocow – probably one of the most delicious chocolate and milk stouts in the country. Visit the shop from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and the brewery tap Wednesday to Sunday. The beers are in various independent stores and available online. Ampersandbrew.co
P – Pintle Pale Ale, 4.3%, Burnt Mill
A crisp, intriging pale ale, given body from wheat, oats and flaked barley, resinous notes from Cascade hops, and citrussy hints of grapefruit and lime from Citra. Burn Mill is growing as a ‘one to watch’ in the British craft beer industry. Not only are the cans beautiful (so ideal for gifting) but the fresh, unfiltered, carefully concocted beers are exceptional in taste and quality. Find in independent shops and buy online. Burnt-mill-brewery.myshopify.com
Q – Queen of Hops, 3.7%, Boudicca Brewing Co.
The brewer describes this as fruity and grassy, with hints of malt, and marmalade bitterness. Boudicca makes all-vegan beers in Norfolk, using prime, sustainable ingredients, with each one given a name linking to Celtic and East Anglian history. Go online for stockist information. boudiccabrewing.co.uk
R – Reedlighter, 4%, Woodfordes
This is a bright, American-style pale ale filled with grapefruit, lime, lemon flavours and with a mild, bittersweet finish. It’s brewed on the Broads (at Salhouse) by Woodfordes – respected in the industry for its really very good beer – and with lots of awards to its name. Woodfordes use local malt and fresh hops for all their products, which can be found bottled in shops, and on tap region-wide. You can also visit their brewery tap The Fur and Feathers, and shop at Salhouse as well as online. Woodfordes.com
S – Schwarz & Weiss, 4.7%, The Krafty Braumeister
German beer-maker Uli is making a name for himself in the beer world, racking up accolades and loads of praise for his superb bottle conditioned brews, made completely naturally with no added sugars or filtration.
This number was one of less than a handful of Great Taste Award 3 Star winners in 2021, and took Silver at last year’s London Beer Competition. It’s based on a Bavarian dunkelweizen, made with roasted and oak smoked barley which infuse it with spicy, malty, slightly fruity flavours, erring to coffee and raisin, with low bitterness. Find in independent stores and online. Kraftybraumeister.co.uk
T- Turtles All The Way, 5.5%, Duration Brewing
I’d love to know how they came up with the name for this one. It’s hoppy with a gentle bitterness, bags of tropical fruit from Mosaic hops (known for their mango/pineapple tinge) and with grassy, grapefruit from Hallertau Blanc. Duration are based at West Acre in Norfolk, and make blended, farm-style beers from field to glass. Each one is a celebration of the regional terroir. Buy online and in local independent shops. Or head over for a day out at the farm. The brewery kiosk is open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and there are tap days on Fridays and Saturdays from 12noon to 6pm, where you can enjoy beer, coffee, cider, soft drinks, and food trucks on Saturdays – this weekend and on February 26 there’s pizza from Wood Fired Food, and on Saturday, February 19, enjoy snacks from Mega Toasties. Durationbeer.com
U – Under The Bush, 5.9%, Poppyland Brewery
A slightly sweet, a touch tart Belgian-style saison made with Norfolk gooseberries, and one of several innovative beers made at Poppyland, where they craft on a small scale, allowing for greater ingenuity. You can buy their bottled and cask ales, plus their vodka and gin at the brewery in Cromer, also in local shops including Beast to Block in Cromer and The Giddy Goat in Sheringham. Find out more online. Poppylandbrewery.com
V – Venture, 3.7%, Nethergate Brewery
This is a truly flavoursome amber ale, packed with hoppy notes, citrus and tropical fruit – and the 0.5% version is just as good. It’s on tap in various pubs in the region, and is available bottled in selected shops, but the best place to try it is at the brewery. The tap room in Long Melford is huge, with a superb garden, and regularly visiting street food vendors. It’s open from midday each day. Real beer fans can sign up to make their own brew – one of several special experiences available on site. Nethergate.co.uk
W – Wheat Strong Ale, 7.4%, All Day Brewing
A bold, mixed ferment beer – 75% wheat to 25% malt. It’s produced with traditional Fuggles hops and the brewery’s own in-house cider lees yeast, then finished in French oak red wine barrels, for a smooth, complex, fruity flavour. All Day Brewing at Salle Moore Farm Estate is almost 10 years old, and the team take inspiration from the fields, orchards and wild produce around them. Buy direct at the farm, where there’s a clutch of other independent makers. Or online. Alldaybrewing.co.uk
1795 Original, 3%, Mauldons
There’s no beer currently beginning with Z, so a number will have to do. Th 1795 Original is a traditional best bitter made with East Anglian malted barley and classic Fuggle and Goldings hops which combine to give an earthy, aromatic, gently sweet finish. Mauldons has been brewing for more than 200 years in Suffolk, starting life in the hands of brewer Anna Maria Mauldon at The Bull Hotel in Sudbury. It’s available in independent shops and online. Mauldons.co.uk
Other breweries of note