Adnams Brewery tour. A few months later I relocated to Kent, sending my mum into a panic that she would 1, never see me again and 2, have wasted money on a perfectly good gift that I would never use. She needn't have worried, on either count. I love a good brewery tour and Southwold (home of Adnams) is one of my favourite places on the planet, despite it becoming over-populated by weekend Londoners.
I've been going to Southwold since I was about 3. Sometimes in the winter my mum would drive us there, park on the seafront and just watch the waves. We wouldn't even get out of the car. Somehow just being there made things a little better. As an adult I would visit occasionally and in recent years it became a place I would spend rainy Valentine's Days. I'd not been back since the last Valentine's visit a couple of years ago, I couldn't quite bring myself to go after the relationship that took me there had ended. It's funny how places can become synonymous with a particular time in your life. Until the actual date for the tour had been booked, I'd resigned myself to never going back.
Don't worry, I'll get to the beer bit soon.
As we pulled into Southwold town my eyes pricked with tears, but as soon as I saw the sea front and pier any sadness disappeared. I saw brightly coloured snowglobes in the pier gift shop and immediately bought one. I collect snowglobes from anywhere I visit but had never seen a Southwold one before. I decided it was a sign. After a picnic on the seafront, where my mum had brought enough food for twice the people present, as she always does, we headed towards the brewery. While two of our party went for their gin making tour, the rest of us had a quick pint...
What: Ease Up IPA, Adnams
When in Rome... Ease Up IPA is a favourite of mine and as we sat on a bench outside I could see the sea and, as I always find when I am enjoying a beer-by-the-sea, I felt at home. Ease Up is an IPA with flavour, from Adnams' Jack Brand, perfect for a warm day. I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a picture before I drank it.
We would have stayed for another but turning up to a brewery tour already a few beers in is bad form.
Where: Adnams Brewery
What: Clementine pale ale, Mosaic pale ale, Ease Up IA, Innovation IPA, Blackshore Stout, First Rate gin, Spirit of Broadside and Limoncello (yep)
I'm fairly sure that's the complete list...The tour was informative and the guide honest (including which Adnams beers she really didn't like). She also said most tours don't finish all the sample beers, but as this tour was mostly men she wasn't surprised (I was the only female in the group), as men drink more beer than most women. I'm not most women and my dad reassured me that I was an exception to the rule. I didn't think I would find the process of brewing and seeing the vats etc as interesting as I did, but brewery tours might be my new favourite thing.
The two beers I wanted to try but couldn't were the Crystal Rye and the Earl Grey lager. My dad had the Blackshore Stout (I only sniffed it, not being a stout fan) and I really liked the Innovation IPA that I not had before and enjoyed the Clementine pale again. After staring a cockatoo in a tree outside the sample room, trying to work out if it was real or not, we were ushered to the gift shop via some free spirit samples.
The gin with Elderflower tonic was delicious and the Limoncello an oddly welcome shot of sweetness, but I passed on the Spirit of Broadside as I'm not a fan of whisky tastes. I collected my free bottle of beer (went for Ease Up, couldn't see a Crystal Rye but I was a little beer-buzzy so I could have been stood right next to it for all I know) and we all headed to the pier. We watched the water clock, as is traditional, and got our photos taken in the pirate cut-outs meant for children. As we drove home I ate some leftover picnic snacks and pondered where my new favourite snowglobe would go.