When my friend Haydn told me that he had a couple of days off work and asked if I fancied going away somewhere, of course I didn’t say no. Although I knew the trip probably wouldn’t involve my passport, I always want to see more of my own country and this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to suggest a place for Haydn, his brother Richard, and me to go. we packed the essentials and jumped in the car
Southwold is a beautiful seaside town located on the North Sea Coast in Suffolk. It is well-known for its pier, and it’s rather expensive beach hu ts (£60,000 asking price?!) but perhaps the most famous part of the town, and certainly the most exciting for us three, is the Admans Brewery! Beer has been brewed in Southwold for hundreds of years but it was only when the Adnams family took over the business in 1872 that the famous name and beer came in to being. I am no stranger to breweries. A few years ago, my good friends in Chicago had the crazy idea of opening their own, Pipeworks Brewing and now they sell some of the most sought after beer in the American Midwest. For this reason, I am always interested to check out other brewing facilities. Purely for investigative purposes of course, to check out the competition. It has nothing to do with the copious amounts of alcohol one is plied with on one’s way round the facility. Haydn, Richard and I decided to do the triple header and do the distillery tour, followed immediately by the brewery tour, finished of with the wine tasting from Adnam’s specially selected bottles of wine from around the world. Crikey. We had quite the day! Things started off well when we were met by the lovely Tracy to show us how they make their spirits. I had no idea that vodka is the purest of the spirits and that gin is actually vodka with other things added and that whisky has to be aged in barrels for three years and one day before it can officially be called whisky. Despite brewing beer for over a hundred years, Adnams has only recently started distilling and for that reason we were unable to taste the whisky as it will not be ready until December 2013, just a few months away. I guess we will have to come back. They have even bought some second-hand Jack Daniels casks and are ageing some of their whisky in those! The equipment that they use to produce the spirits are not only functional,but beautiful. The main fractioning column should stand at 16 metres high but because planning laws in the area they had to chop it in 2 and stand one half next to the other. However, it means you can see more of it! All of the equipment is meticulously maintained and presented. We rounded off the tour with a tasting of pretty much everything they produce in the distillery. We had enough time for a quick sausage roll topped with some of Adnams’ own brown sauce then it was back to the start to check out the brewery. Belinda took very good care of us as we made our way past the enormous stainless steel vats and hoppers. We saw the process from the hops and grains right through to the bar at the end where we got to taste the products! Now, if you are planning on doing these tours I recommend doing what we did and somehow end up with only a couple of other people in your group that do not drink. This meant that each jug or bottle of beer that was brought out had to be drunk by the 3 of us! It would have seemed rude not to finish everything that was put in front of us so we made the most of it. Needless to say, by the time we walked, or rather, rolled out the door back to the shop for the wine tasting we were certainly enjoying ourselves. Belinda handed us over to Michael who took us through the wines that we were to drink and again, purely in the interest of fairness of comparison, we tasted everything that was put in front of us. They certainly have the right idea when they finish the tastings in the shop as for some reason it seems much easier to spend money after you’ve had a few!
We were brilliantly looked after through out our entire day at Adnams. The staff is so friendly and have a genuine interest in what they do and look like they actually enjoy their jobs. The company itself has proven that it is not just driven by profit. Aside from taking good care of the people who work for them, they contribute to the local community through their charity work and to the local landscape by sponsoring parts of the beach. As well as all this, they have an acute awareness of the environmental impact the company makes. They recycle much of the excess energy they produce and even contribute energy back to the national grid. Not only that, but they make bloody good beer!