Great Yarmouth Lacons Brewery revives historic ales

  • 16 May 2013
  • From the section Norfolk
Filling beer barrels at Lacons Brewery
Image caption The taste of Lacons ale will be available for the first time in more than 50 years

Historic Norfolk ales are set to flow from the pumps once again after a "sleeping" yeast has been awakened for the first time in more than 50 years.

The Lacons Brewery, in Great Yarmouth, closed down in 1968 after more than two centuries in the seaside town.

Yeast from the original beer was held in deep freeze at the Norwich-based National Collection of Yeast Cultures.

Head brewer Wil Wood said reinventing the artisan ales for a modern day palate had been "difficult".

Lacons Brewery was an integral part of life in Great Yarmouth and beyond from 1760. At its peak it was shipping 50,000 casks of ale a week to London pubs.

Image caption Head brewer Wil Wood spent six months developing the reinvented ales

The brewery owned more than 50 public houses in the capital during the 1850s and at its height controlled more than 300 pubs in Great Yarmouth.

Whitbread bought the brewery in 1965, but closed it three years later.

Mick Carver, managing director of Lowestoft-based drinks distributor JV Trading, started work to secure the rights to the Lacons name in 2009.

He said: "We are very conscious that we are the custodians of a piece of brewing history which is still very close to the people in the Anglia region.

"We want to modernise the brand but are aware we need to be sympathetic to people's memories."

Yeast 'applications'

Having obtained the Lacons rights Mr Carver was able to claim the brewery's original yeast strains which had been stored at the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) for nearly half a century.

Dr Ian Roberts, curator of the NCYC, said: "We've been collecting yeast strains since 1948 and currently have about 4,000.

"We store the strains indefinitely for fundamental biological research purposes and for investigation into potential novel applications in industrial biotechnology - such as sustainable biofuels.

"It also fills a public good role in preserving yeast strains when companies using the yeasts cease trading."

The company aims to produce three regular and a number of guest ales.

Mr Wood said: "The main connection between the old and new brewery is the yeast which has been asleep for 56 years.

"We've gone back to the yeast bank to pick out the yeast Lacons put away in the '50s and '60s so that will meld all the flavours towards what Lacons was like originally."

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