43 of the best real ale pubs in Suffolk - according to CAMRA

Ivan's focus on real ales and ciders has seen his pub win a number of awards since he took over just

Ivan's focus on real ales and ciders has seen his pub, The Walnut Tree in Stowmarket, win a number of awards since he took over just a couple of years ago - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Love beer? Looking for somewhere new to wet your whistle? These are just some of the pubs in the county, recommended by local CAMRA branches, where you'll be able to find an extensive range of well-kept, tasty real ale.

Ipswich & East Suffolk branch area 

The Case is Altered, Bentley 
Owned and run by the local community, this pub has up to four beers on hand-pump and two bar drinking areas, a restaurant area with a wood-burning stove, plus a pretty beer garden with plenty of seating. 

The Gladstone Arms, Combs Ford 
A large open-plan pub serving consistently good beer. The owners also run the Dove Street Inn in Ipswich. The two pubs share a similar beer range, with about 12 ales available, including house beers brewed in Ipswich. 

The Blaxhall Ship 
A cosy two-roomed historic pub with a long reputation for traditional singing in the main bar. The food menu offers a wide choice of homemade dishes and daily specials using locally sourced ingredients. Live entertainment includes folk music, bands and storytelling.

The Victoria, Earl Soham 
A wonderful drinking pub with two small bars separated by a wood-burner. Beers come from nearby Earl Soham brewery. A food menu is also available with daily specials offered both lunchtimes and evenings, all home-cooked. The pub can get busy at weekends. 

Louis Andrews is the new head chef at the Freston Boot.

Louis Andrews, head chef at the Freston Boot. - Credit: Freston Boot

The Freston Boot 

This popular bar offers a changing selection of up to six handpump and craft beers. Outside, the entire site has been re-landscaped and improved with new car parking, garden, and a large pub allotment that provides some of the pub vegetables. 


The Crown, Great Glemham 

Up to six beers are on offer during the busy summer months and at least four during quieter periods. Acoustic music sessions feature regularly. 

Arcade Street Tavern, Ipswich 

A stylish and popular cafe/bar with a traditional wooden interior, and an emphasis on craft and imported beers. Two hand pumps dispense a variety of ever-changing real ales, mainly from East Anglia. 

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Briarbank, Ipswich 

A smart and modern first-floor drinking bar that opened in 2013 and is located in a former bank above a small brewery. Many house beers are also available as craft ales. 

Dove Street Inn, Ipswich 
A wide selection of ales, continental beers and ciders. Some beers are produced by the pub’s own brewery. Sports TV is shown in the conservatory. There's a covered and heated seating area outside.

The Duke, Ipswich 

Offers a good selection of real ales from a variety of local brewers including three mystery house beers. Also some bottled beers and some draught craft beer. 

The Fat Cat, Ipswich 

A small, multi-roomed drinking bar, free from background music and games machines. Up to 14 beers and five ciders are dispensed from the taproom. 

The Greyhound, Ipswich 

An Adnams tied house with a small bar at the front and a much larger, more modern drinking and dining room to the side and rear. Recently expanded outside drinking spaces can be busy during the summer months. 

The Nelson, Ipswich 

A timber-framed building dating from the 17th century, just a short walk from the historic waterfront. An unusual gravity-dispense system incorporates a row of wooden casks used to good effect and offers up to five real ales. 

The Royal William, Stowmarket 
An end-of-terrace back-street bar, tucked away down a narrow side street. Just a short walk from the town centre and railway station and worth seeking out. All ales are served by gravity dispense from the cellar behind the bar, with up to 10 beers and five ciders. 

The Walnut, Stowmarket 

The Walnut was refurbished by the current landlord and landlady in early 2019, significantly improving this back-street pub that now offers a changing selection of real ales on handpump, along with ciders and craft beers listed on a large blackboard. 

 
The White Horse, Sweffling 

A cosy, eco-friendly, two-room pub, with a wood-burner and wood-fired range. Beers from local brewers are dispensed on gravity, served through a taproom door. Cider is also available, as well as Fairtrade, organic, locally produced bottled beers 


The Moon & Mushroom, Swilland 

A comfortable and cosy single bar pub, nicely decorated throughout with local pictures, tiled floor and scrubbed tables. A good selection of up to four beers on gravity is always available from the tap room and home-cooked food is is serve 

 
The Wheatsheaf, Tattingstone 
An interesting beer selection includes many from local brewers. Live music and quiz nights are always popular, as are themed food evenings and Sunday roasts. 

The Theberton Lion 
A lively old village bar with patio seating outside at the front, various seating areas inside, and a central fireplace. Many local pictures decorate the walls. The local beer club meets in the bar. Real ciders in bottle are now available all year round including Giggler and Thistly Cross Traditional. 

The White Lion, Ufford 
This is a cosy, small, single-bar pub with a quarry-tiled floor, offering various beers including home-brewed ales on the gravity stillage. 

The Angel, Woodbridge 
A traditional two-bar drinking pub with beams and tiled floors. The regularly changing range of real ales is complemented by a selection of over 270 gins. There is seating outside and a former stables to the rear. 

The Cherry Tree, Woodbridge 

A spacious family-friendly lounge bar/diner with a central servery and several cosy seating areas. Up to nine beers are usually on offer and an annual summer beer festival is hosted. The new kitchen provides home-cooked food all day every day, starting with breakfast, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The Laxfield Low House, also known as The King's Head, is hosting an Oktoberfest

The Laxfield Low House, also known as The King's Head - Credit: Gregg Brown

 

Mid Anglia branch area

David Williamson of the Mid Anglia branch says this arm of CAMRA is unusual, taking in parts of south Norfolk and north Suffolk, with Diss and the river Waveney running through the centre, with 80 to 85 pubs and nine breweries on their patch. 

He lists some of their recommendations. 

StarWing brewery tap from Redgrave is currently our Pub of the Year and always has six or seven real ales on tap from the adjoining brewery.   

“Waveney brewery at the Queens Head Earsham has some of its real ales on tap at the pub.  

Shorts Farm brewery in Thorndon supplies some of its real ales to local pubs  

“The recommendation of real ale pubs is always mostly a matter of opinion. Apart from StarWing brewery tap we have the Vine at Hopton in Suffolk which normally has at least six real ales available. There are two attractive heritage pubs, the Kings Head (Low House) in Laxfield, and the Swan at Hoxne both of which have real ales available. Others worth mentioning are the Ox & Plough at Old Buckenham and The Cross Keys at Redgrave  

“We currently have three pubs that are owned by the local community, the Laxfield Kings Head, Redgrave Cross Keys and Garboldisham Fox, these all provide real ales but the majority of our pubs will provide an opportunity to try an ale which has been brewed, stored and served in the manner to which CAMRA approves. 

Heather Warren is pictured at Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds

Heather Warren is pictured at Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

West Suffolk branch area

Martin Bate of the branch says: “West Suffolk is blessed with around 200 pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants which offer real ale. 

“Each year we select the ‘best of the best’ real ale pubs for inclusion in the annual CAMRA Good Beer Guide to represent our branch area.  

“Nominations for the 2023 edition of the guide concluded in January and some of the pubs highlighted by our branch members are: 

The Dove, Oakes Barn, Rose & Crown and Beerhouse in Bury St Edmunds 

The White Horse in Exning 

The Red House in Stanningfield 

The Greyhound in Ixworth 

The Fox in Pakenham  

The Brook in Great Cornard 

The Cock in Brent Eleigh 

Some of the 15 real ale breweries in West Suffolk operate brewery taps where customers can sample draught beer ‘from the source’. These include: 

The Brewery Tap in Sudbury 

The Old Cannon Brewery in Bury St Edmunds 

The Nethergate Brewery Tap House in Long Melford 

The Roughacre Tap Room in Clare  

“These are just a small selection from the hundreds of establishments in Suffolk which offer a good choice of real ales - there is something for everyone in Suffolk! 

“To sample from a range of over 250 real ales, craft beers and ciders don’t forget the East Anglian Beer & Cider Festival which is celebrating its 30th year in 2022. The event returns to St Edmundsbury Cathedral from June 14 to 19, 2022 -burystedmundsbeerfestival.com  

 
What is CAMRA? 

CAMRA has a community of over 192,000 members from all walks of life and welcomes new members all the time. Members have been campaigning for pubs, pints and people since 1971.  

Each area of the country has its own CAMRA branch, with seven branches across Norfolk and Suffolk, all run by local volunteers. These grassroots groups run beer festivals and events, organise Pub of the Year and Champion Beer competitions  There are local magazines - Norfolk Nips and Last Orders - featuring news from local pubs and breweries, details of upcoming festivals and social events, and articles from around the world of beer. 

 Campaigning is what CAMRA does best and has achieved so much in 50 years to secure the long-term future for quality real ale and cider, which is now readily available across the UK. To join, visit camra.org.uk/join/ and view your local branch website and social media for up-to-date social events.