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You are in: Suffolk > Nature > Coast > > Point 7 - The Brewery

Adnams Brewery, Southwold

Adnams Brewery, Southwold

Point 7 - The Brewery

Real ale has been brewed in Southwold for 660 years. Medieval court records show that in 1345 Johanna de Corby and several other ‘ale wives’ were charged with selling short measures, serving poor quality ale and fighting with their customers!

In the late 1400’s bitter was served for the first time using local hops, but it wasn’t until 1818 that a local maltster, William Crisp, put the Sole Bay Brewery (originally the brew house for The Swan) firmly on the map with a reputation for the fine quality of his beers.

George and Ernest Adnams bought the brewery in 1872. George was subsequently eaten by a crocodile in Africa, but Ernest went on to expand the business, which was helped by the arrival of the railway in 1879.

Cottages in Church Street

Cottages in Church Street

Jack and Pierse Loftus acquired a stake in the brewery in 1902 and the company has grown and prospered ever since. The revival of ‘real ale’ in the 60’s gave Adnams a further boost and by 1984 several cottages in Church Street and the Brickmakers Arms had all been incorporated into the brewery site.

External appearances can be deceptive!

What is interesting about the cottages in Church Street is that Adnams has retained their outward appearance, maintaining the character of the street. Walking past you would think they were private cottages. Each has its own gaily painted front door, but behind the individual facades lies a busy working brewery.

New fermentation tanks

New fermentation tanks


In 2004 Adnams began work on a new fermentation room. The beer is brewed in the main building and then piped under the road into the fermentation tanks. Suffolk grown Marisotter barley is used in the brewing process. One barrel is made up of 288 pints and 1 fermentation vessel holds 240 barrels - that’s a lot of ale!

Adnams is Southwold’s largest employer and one of the fastest growing beer brands in the country, selling ale to discerning drinkers well beyond the Suffolk border.

The firm has seen a massive expansion in recent years, literally doubling in size in the last five years. This has meant a lot more HGVs coming into the town, so a new environmentally friendly distribution centre is to be built at Reydon to take some of the pressure away from Southwold.

Design for new distribution centre

Design for new distribution centre

Imagine a building which generates power from its own solar panels, stores rainwater for use internally and which blends into the landscape because of the plants on its roof. The building is designed so that from the road it looks like part of the countryside. It may even incorporate wind turbines.

Work begins on this project towards the end of 2005 and it will be operational by 2007. It will cut down the movement of heavy goods vehicles in Southwold and will free up more space at the brewery.

Horse-drawn deliveries

Adnams horse-drawn drays deliver daily in the Southwold and Reydon areas. The horses are stabled in the town and have a paddock near the harbour. There are currently two Percheron horses, Monarch who is just six years-old and has been with the brewery for about five years, and Sam, the new boy.

Sam the Percheron horse with the brewery draymen

Sam the Percheron horse with the draymen

Sam is 12 years-old and has been doing the rounds for only 18 months.  Sam has a bit of trouble going into reverse, which can on occasions be a little problematic, but nothing that can’t be resolved.  He is also partial to nosing into any passing shopping bags!  You have been warned...  The drayman is regularly given a bag of carrots by the local greengrocer.

It's a lovely traditional sight to see and visitors and residents alike come out of their homes to stand and wave as the horse and dray goes past.

Well, you’re on the final leg of your walk around Southwold now.

Head back towards the seafront and either walk back towards the pier along the cliff top or take the slope down to the prom.

last updated: 22/04/2008 at 10:52
created: 05/07/2005

Have Your Say

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Dominic Pinto
The new brewhouse and the distribution centre at Reydon is both impressive, and a tribute to sensible and successful investment in the business. I gather some 30-50 truck movements a day have been removed from the town centre, which must be a relief. Following our inspection May 25th 2007, tasting of the beers at the Sole Bay Inn, Lord Nelson, and later in the evening at the Eels Foot Inn Eastbridge with excellent whitebait and smoed fish confirmed that the investment is sound, and producing excellent and in demand products.It's a regret that the horse-drawn dray is I gather (like that of Youngs now no longer of London) no more a feature of daily life.

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