Suffolk/Essex: Nethergate’s Suffolk County named as East Anglia’s Champion Best Bitter

Nethergate Brewery head brewer Paul Gower with colleagues.

Nethergate Brewery head brewer Paul Gower with colleagues. - Credit: subpix

A brewery back from the brink of financial collapse has been recognised for producing the best bitter in the region.

Nethergate Brewery, based on the Suffolk/Essex border near Sudbury, was taken into receivership six months ago.

After £60,000 of investment, led by the brewery’s original founder Dick Burge, the award-winning producer, best known for brewing Old Growler, is back on track.

Managing director John Holberry said: “I was an investor in the original business. Dick Burge contacted me telling about this opportunity to really do something good with beer. We [the investors] are all beer-lovers – we are not in it for the money. In 20 years we want to look back and be proud that we made a great business with great beer.”

Mr Holberry, who spent his career working for the biggest lager and cider producers in the country, said: “I have been working for the ‘dark side’, but a have been an ale lover all my life.” The brewery’s refurbishment has included overdue maintenance and the opening of a brewery shop.

Mr Holberry said: “We only aim to sell within in a 30-50 mile radius.

“We don’t have plans to sell all over the country. I believe beer is a fresh product.”

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Talking about the awards, he said: “It is incredible, we never thought we would get recognition for our hard work so quickly.

Recognition has to go to our head brewer Paul Gower.”

The beer Suffolk County was named Champion Best Bitter and won silver in the overall category.

With more than 150 entries from across East Anglia, each beer was judged in blind tests by 69 experts from the Society of Independent Brewers.

Dick Burge, who founded the brewery in 1986, said: “We have always tried to make great beers and I am proud that our quality has been recognised.”

Nethergate Brewery can be found on The Street, in Pentlow.