Pure water and the UK’s best malting barley are keys to success
With some of the best malting barley in the UK, the East of England leads the way in the renaissance of microbrewing, with more microbreweries than any other part of the country and a growing number of distilleries.
The English Whisky Distillery
Home of the Original English Whisky and set in the picturesque Brecks countryside by the gently flowing river Thet, the English Whisky Distillery was designed and built by the Nelstrup family who have over 600 years of growing and processing grain.
Roudham was chosen as the venue because it sits above the Breckland aquifer and Norfolk is one of the world’s premier barley-growing areas. The two ingredients you need for whisky? Good water and great grain.
As well as tours and events, the Distillery has The Kitchen restaurant and coffee shop.
Adnams Copper House Distillery
Only launched in 2010, Adnams’ spirits have received countless awards and plaudits, including the coveted ‘world’s best’ trophies for gin and vodka. Yes, ‘world’s best’.
The distillery sits within the famous Adnams brewery in Southwold and is one of the most water and energy-efficient distilleries in the UK, forming part of the company’s impressive sustainable production system.
Modern distilling techniques and a small batch process creates spirits with exceptional quality, flavour and purity.
Tours of the distillery are available, but don’t rush your time in Southwold – it’s a picture-perfect coastal town that seems to have been set in aspic in 1953. The town has a traditional pier with some very untraditional amusements, quaint pubs, restaurants, artisanal food and drink shops and almost all the shops are locally-owned.
Master distiller Dr John Walters, a former biochemist, has made English Spirit at Great Yeldham Hall in Essex home to the world’s wildest variety of spirits and liqueurs distilled under one roof. Every one of their products is made from scratch in more than 20 copper pot stills around the clock in a 200-year-old barn.
There are various tours and tastings with guests receiving a tour of the distillery and an overview of the distillation process from one of the Spirit Guides. For special events, Dr John takes the overview.
Located in the village of Woodbastwick in the beautiful Broads National Park, 125 miles of navigable, lock-free waterways, Woodfordes Brewery offers regular tours. Peruse the shop afterwards or head next door to the brewery tap, The Fur and Feathers, a chocolate box traditional English village pub, with thatched roof and pond and great menu.
St Peter’s Brewery
Based at St Peter South Elmham near Bungay in Suffolk, the brewery, built in 1996, sits next to the picturesque St Peter’s Hall and restaurant. There’s excellent water quality from the site’s deep bore-hole and locally malted barley is used to produce a range of classic English cask-conditioned ales and superb bottled beers. Tours take place from Easter until the end of December.
Beer has been made on the site of Adnams Brewery since at least 1345, but it’s only in more recent history that you could take a tour of the beer-making process. When you do you’ll be in a state-of the-art energy-efficient brew house that’s won awards for sustainability and has hugely increased its range of beers and ales, particularly craft beers. Their hauntingly-good Ghost Ship now comes in an excellent alcohol-free version.
Grain Brewery near Harleston opens its doors to visitors a day a month – enjoy an ale in the Taproom Bar after a tour of the brewery and a visit to the shop. There’s often live music and street food and dogs and children are welcome.
At this Snetterton Brewery you can taker part in a Brew Day, where you will help with all the procedures involved in making a full mashed beer. As well as producing a real Elmtree ale that will be ready to drink in around ten days’ time, you’ll learn about fermentation and maturation and you’ll get a Brewman’s Lunch and beer tasting.
Greene King Brewery
Greene King is the UK’s largest pub retailer and brewer and is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is in the FTSE 250 Index. But that’s not what you care about, is it? Your questions is ‘can you take a tour?’ And the answer is yes. Cask ales have been brewed at the Westgate Brewery since 1799, and you can learn about their traditional brewing methods on a tour – and get to see the best view of Bury St Edmunds from the roof of the brew house.