There seems to be a bit of a pattern with my blog posts. I do something, or go somewhere and then don’t bother blogging about it for months, if at all, then someone else comes along and blogs about the same thing, but infinitely better than I could ever do. It happened with Rome and now it’s happened with Adnams.
My gorgeous lovely wife, knowing how much I like beer, gave me an awesome presant for my birthday, an Adnams brewery tour. So at the end of October, the pair of us spend the weekend in Southwold, staying at The Swan Hotel and going round the brewery on the Sunday morning. I have to say that I was quite excited, as I really like Adnams beers and I’d never been to an all singling, all dancing modern brewery before.
My first brewery trip was with the Heriot-Watt University Brewing Society, way back in 1990 or 1991, I can’t remember exactly as it was so long ago. We visited the Harviestoun brewery, back when they were in a farm shed outside Dollar. It took two or three hours to wander up the shed and back down again, all the time being plyed with free beer. There was a bit of a sing song on the bus on the way back…
Since then I’ve been in the old Tolly Cobbold brewery in Ipswich, the Milton Brewery in, er, Milton and most recently The Kernel Brewery in London. I’ve not been to many, but apart from the historic Tolly brewery, they’ve all been small and manual affairs. Hence why I was excited to be going to Adnams, the thought of all that stainless…
The Adnams brewery is facinating, the complex is spread over multiple buildings and if you didn’t know what some of them contained, you’d think they were ordinary houses on a street. In fact, you start the tour by going through what looks like someones front door, only to end up in the cask and bottle filling hall. From there we were taken through the yard, I’ve never seen so many empty casks in my life and into the brewhouse.
This is where my jaw hit the floor, so many pipes, so much stainless, so much technology! I was like a kid in a sweet shop, I didn’t know where to look! I have no idea what the tour guide was saying at this point, I was too busy turning circles, my mouth agog, trying to take it all in. It’s amazing to think it’s all controlled from a computer screeen in Fergus’ office and can switch itself on at four in the morning and start a brew without anyone being there.
The fermentors are in another building acorss the street, so all the wort is pumped back and forth under the road. I’m not sure why, but after seeing the ultra modern brew house, I was expecting all the fermentors to be cylindro-conical affairs, they weren’t, they appeared to be all rectangular cuboids. The fermentation building felt very calm and chilled, as opposed to the industrialness of the brew house, a perfect place to be quiet and contemplative, while the yeast works its magic.
The tour finished up in the sample room, which is in yet another building, where we got to try a few different Adnams beers. I think our tour over ran by about 15 minutes, which unfortunately limited the time we had to sample the beer. It wasn’t all bad though, as I got to try the Green Bullet special they did for the Mitchells & Butlers pub chain (I’ve since been lucky to find it in a pub too; it’s a fantastic beer). I was really impressed by the Adnams brewery, it was great to finally see a large modern brewery, even if it wasn’t actually running on the Sunday morning that we were there.
There is a link in the first paragraph of this post that you should check out. Jeff Alworth of the Beervana blog recently toured a load of breweries in the UK and Europe and his article on Adnams is facinating. Like he says, "it’s as close as you’ll come to getting a brewery tour without going on one". Having said that, I’d have no hesitation in going for another tour, it’s the perfect excuse to stay overnight in Southwold and drink copious quantities of fresh Adnams beer in some cracking pubs.