Sitting in the Greene King heartlands of Bury St. Edmunds there are some serious micro-brewers creating a burgeoning reputation for flavour and quality of their brews. I decided to go and visit one of these intrepid brewers, The Old Cannon, and was surprised by what I found.
Tucked away down some of the narrow market town streets is The Old Cannon Brewery. It has been around since January 1848, and was created by the King family. The brewery was linked to the beer house by a brick archway to ensure suitable supply of the brews to the patrons. The brewery continued to be in operation until 1994 when Greene King decided to close it down. Five years later Richard Eyton-Jones, a brewing and chemical engineering graduate and Carle Locker, a business administration graduate and former pub manager cam to the rescue and re-opened the Old Cannon Brewery.
The brewery itself is exceptionally unique and thought to be the only one of its kind in existence. Operating over three floors with the mirror polished stainless steel mash tun and boiler on the middle floor next to the bar This is one very clever use of the space available. The mash tun and boiler were built by Industrial Techniques of Needham market for a Japanese exhibition in 2001 and then made their journey back from Tokyo to be put to good use.
The ownership of the brewery has since passed through several hands and now lies with Garry and Hannah of the Anglia Pub Company with their head brewer Tris Alvis, who funnily enough was never into home brewing, but has been working at the pub / brewery for about 15 years through various roles from bar steward, brewers assistant and now head brewer!
Tris brews a range of different beers from Best Bitter to Gunport Stout and Blonde Bombshell, with any of their regular six beer range having any four lines at the bar on at a time. If you are also slightly adventurous and open to new things Tris and some of the locals quite like blending some of the brews to create new drinks such as Powder Monkey, a combination Best Bitter and Gunner's Daughter Strong Ale. As well as brewing primarily for the pub they do bottle a percentage of each brew for sale to enable you to take a souvenir home with you.
As well as the core range they also brew guest ales for special occasions, such as St. Edmunds Head for the day that celebrates the patron of the town. As for further new brews that are on the horizon, there is some work going on in the background with Muntons to look at some new brews which could be hitting the taps in the not too distant future.
If you are in Bury St. Edmunds instead of going to the usual Greene King pubs that are plentiful throughout the town, why not go in search of something different and truly support a smaller local brewer whose beers certainly deserves to be tasted.