Exciting new Suffolk beers you have to try

Ed Barnes, organiser of the Ipswich Beer Festival and owner of Hopsters Ipswich is passionate about

Ed Barnes, organiser of the Ipswich Beer Festival and owner of Hopsters Ipswich is passionate about Suffolk beer Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Expert Ed Barnes of Hopsters Ipswich reveals the county’s most interesting brews for International Beer Day (August 7)

It’s International Beer Day so what better time to check out what our amazing breweries are doing?

Now, anyone who’s popped into Hopsters will vouch for me when I say we’ve been championing our local craft ale heroes Burnt Mill, Little Earth Project and Ampersand. They’re at the forefront of the beer revolution in the UK and we’re incredibly lucky to have them. But there are more new breweries arriving plus the current Covid crisis is creating new avenues for local breweries.

So, with that in mind, let’s start with Ipswich’s Briarbank Brewery. We’ve known that they’re one of the best up-and-coming modern real ale breweries in the UK for quite some time. And why wouldn’t they be? Head brewer Rob Pyke has been brewing since he was 18 and has created some gems for the Ipswich beer lovers to get stuck in to. It now appears it’s not only us who love his beers as he has just won a shed load of awards for them. His Mocha Porter and Grapefruit IPA have won Gold at the regional SIBA awards (Society of Independent Brewers) and his Hop To It and Mocha Porter both won Gold in the SIBA regional Keg Competition just before the lockdown. With Covid, the brewery’s usual output of kegs has been reduced so to make up for this we’re getting his award winning beers in bottles for the first time ever. Expect them on the shelves of Hopsters and at Briarbank’s bar in the next week or so.

The other thing I love about Suffolk is there’s always a new brewery to chat about. Recently, Artefact Brewing have caught my eye. Head brewer James Phillips is a guy with his sights on the horizon but his feet firmly rooted in traditional brewing. The first beer he produced was an beautiful mild. Not a trendy IPA, a mild. And it was superb. He’s since knocked out a wonderful pale which got brilliant reviews on the beer ratings site Untappd and he is now producing a Jasmine Blonde and a fruity Kveik IPA. (veik is a Norwegian yeast strand that gives the beer a beautiful thick mouth-feel and fruity aroma. All this in his first year of brewing. Things are looking good for the man from Ixworth.

Now going back to the SIBA awards, here’s an example of how an award can push a beer. When the award winners were announced last month, we were pleased to see that Star Wing Brewery had won an accolade for their beautiful porter, Stain Glass Blue. We had just taken stock of their beers at Hopsters when they achieved this and the award-winning porter flew out the door. Beer lovers of Suffolk know their onions.

But I’ll finish off by reminding you all about those incredible breweries I mentioned at the start. Burnt Mill is doing what it does best and with head brewer Sophie de Ronde at the helm, they cannot put a foot wrong. The recent Double Fog IPAs are to die for if you want them thick, juicy and with a punch. Little Earth Project has just released its latest batch of funky beers with us and we are very impressed. If you like a Belgian beer, then thei Farmhouse Saison Hard Graf is immense and available in a 750ml bottle to share. I can’t think of anything else I want on a warm summer’s night. And Ampersand is coming along leaps to bounds since it started canning its beers. Innovative, fresh and tasty. Everything that comes out of the brewery is a delight. I’ve particularly fallen for the Key Lime Pie Sour. Pie and beer. What a combination.

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You can enjoy all these beers plus another down at Hopsters on International Beer Day. If you pop down from 6.15pm we have our lovely sun trap beer garden with imported German beer benches ready for you to enjoy. And if you can’t make it out, we’re still delivering so you can let us get the beers in.

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