Situated in the heart of the Norfolk Countryside, Woodfordes Brewery is going back to basics thanks to the careful guidance of master brewer, Neil Bain.
Explaining the science behind the brew, Neil Bain took us on a comprehensive tour of the site to help us understand both the past and the present of this Norfolk-made brewery. Having recently returned as master brewer to Woodfordes, Neil was keen to explain that the brewery was bringing the focus back to the old favourites such as its award winning Wherry and Nelson’s Revenge, whilst expanding its portfolio into craft beers to become “all things to all people”. With plans afoot to expand distribution across the UK and beyond, the future for this Norfolk brewery is looking exciting!
It was clear from the outset that brewing is a fine art. Combining both old and new technologies, Woodfordes has two breweries on site; one fully computerised mash tun, the second a wooden barrelled one – perfect for making those quirkier brews.
Using malt that is grown and malted in Norfolk, the water from beneath them (the brewery sits on top of a sealed aquifer connected to the North Sea) and local produce wherever they can, Woodfordes wholeheartedly embraces its local environment.
After taking us through the brewing process from start to finish, we had a few questions for Neil…
What made you decide to return to Woodfordes?
I originally worked here from 2008-15 but left to help out a different brewery. A few years later head office asked me to come back and here I am! I have a great love for Woodfordes, so it was unfinished business.
Which beer are you most proud of?
Once Bittern. I came up with the brew, I came up with the name and I got to raise money for Norfolk Wildlife Trust. With every pint sold here we donate money to NWT and it’s been a very popular beer. It’s been my baby.
My favourite is Nelson Sauvin. It’s high in Alpha acid so you can’t use a lot of them as it can make the beer very, very bitter but it has lovely aromas.
What do you personally drink?
Out of this brewery it’s Nelson’s Revenge.
What’s your biggest focus at the moment?
What we’re trying to do is make sure all the beers are on song; both the craft beers and the bread and butter session beers by going back to basics. We’re trying to be all things to all people.
What plans does Woodfordes have for the future?
Head office is looking to take Woodfordes further afield so I expect we’ll see some export and more into supermarkets. We have a core range of 6 or 7 brews but we also have seasonals which allows us to constantly experiment so there are always new flavours coming out.
Finally, where can our readers enjoy a pint or three?
We supply pubs across East Anglia and down to London, and through wholesalers all over the country, including Marks and Spencers.
If you’d like to book your own brewery tour visit woodfordes.co.uk/pages/brewery-tours or call 01603 722218.