Adnams Brewery has a long and rich heritage. Beer has been brewed on the same site as the present brewery for at least 670 years. We are proud of our history and Adnams today looks towards the future and continues to innovate and evolve. Whilst there are gaps along the way, we’ve picked out a few of our highlights over the years.
Johanna de Corby and 17 other ‘ale wives’ of Southwold were charged by the manorial court with breaking the assize of ale. This is the earliest record of beer being brewed on the Adnams site.
A great fire started in East Street and destroyed much of Southwold, including The Swan Hotel. The Swan was rebuilt by John Rous in time to provide refreshment for bellringers, soldiers and bailiffs when the restoration of Charles II was proclaimed in 1660. In 2014, Adnams commemorated the great fire by producing a smoked Ruby Ale.
Southwold was the headquarters for the English fleet under the command of the Duke of York; a time of prosperity for the brewers and victuallers of the town.The Battle of Sole Bay took place when the Dutch fleet caught the English unawares – it took the bailiffs and a drummer boy four hours to clear the English sailors out of the taverns and back on to their ships to do battle. You can read more Adnams Broadside and the Battle of Sole Bay here.
John Kirby’s ‘Suffolk Traveller’ mentions “Southwold’s excellent springs of good water, which may be one reason why their beer is so much esteemed.”
The Swan was bought by Thomas Bokenham who made expensive alterations to the hotel and built a grand house next door for his second wife. Burdened by debt, Bokenham sold off the brewhouse at the back of The Swan. It was bought by a local maltster, William Crisp, for £350.
George and Ernest Adnams bought the Sole Bay Brewery with the help of their father.
George was not cut out for country life in Suffolk so departed for South Africa, where he was eventually eaten by a crocodile.
Ernest Adnams and head brewer Thomas Sargeant signed the Memorandum of Association establishing Adnams & Company Limited.
Jack and Pierse Loftus acquired a stake in the brewery.
The arrival of Adnams’ unique two-stand yeast. The yeast was acquired from Morgan’s Brewery in Norwich shortly before their brewery was destroyed in an air raid.
Steady growth and great acclaim for their beers, Adnams won the Star of Excellence in Brussels and the Challenge Cup for best beer at the Brewers’ Exhibition.
It was also in this year that a great surge tide flooded much of low-lying Eastern Britain and the Netherlands, claiming the hundreds of lives. The Harbour Inn was flooded to first floor level, and the pub still has the flood level marked on it today. Supplies of Adnams beer were rowed to the pub as the landlord insisted on remaining open for anyone who could reach the pub by boat.
Adnams won the Challenge Cup for the best beer at the Brewers’ Exhibition beating 755 other companies. These were the days when Britain was still thronged with local breweries.
The tragic death of Nico Loftus led to the third generation of the Adnams and Loftus families joining the business.
The Brewery was substantially enlarged and modernised. This process continues to this day with state-of-the-art brewing equipment regularly being installed.
Adams first Cellar & Kitchen Store opened at the back of The Crown Hotel combining top quality kitchenware with a full range of wine.
The Adnams Charitable Trust is established to mark its centenary as a public company. The Trust donates a percentage of pre-tax profits to groups and organisations within a 25-mile radius of Southwold.
1999 Adnams introduces its famous ‘ribbons’ logo and successfully relaunches SSB and Broadside in award-winning bespoke 500ml bottles.
To much acclaim, Adnams, Beer from the Coast advertising campaign is launched.
Adnams refreshes its brand with new-look pump clips and a stylish bespoke pint glass. The first Cellar & Kitchen store outside Southwold opens in Holkham, Norfolk. Adnams is awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development.
On the retirement of Simon Loftus, Jonathan Adnams becomes Chairman. The eco-distribution centre is built with its living roof, lime and hemp walls and rain harvesting facility. The Cellar & Kitchen store in Woodbridge opens and the Adnams dray horses retire.
With its commitment to the environment, Adnams reduces the weight of its 500ml bottles from 455g to 299g making them the lightest 500ml beer bottle on the market. The latest stage of the brewery development is completed with the installation of a state-of-the-art energy-efficient brew house. Innovation is not restricted to the infrastructure as Spindrift, a modern English beer is produced.
Adnams opens its new energy efficient brewery and produces East Green, the UK’s first Carbon Neutral beer.
The Adnams Copper House Distillery is built and opened.
We were delighted that after just four months of producing Adnams Copper House Spirits, they began winning awards at international competitions. The distillery sits in the room which used to house the old brewing coppers and we pride ourselves in being able to trace the distilling process from grain to glass.
Adnams opens two new stores in London – Bloomsbury and Spitalfields and we brew Royal Wedding Ale to celebrate the marriage of William & Kate.
For a second time Adnams wins the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development 2012.
Adnams Ghost Ship appears mysteriously as a projection on our brewery and we launch a new beer, Flame Runner, to celebrate the London Olympics. Adnams becomes a “Cool Brand” and we win the EDP Business Award for online Performance. It’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee so we brew a beer to commemorate this outstanding achievement – Adnams Diamond Ale.
Adnams Gin wins the Gin Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, giving us the opportunity to pronounce that it’s the world’s best gin!
Adnams receives ‘Investors in People’ Gold accreditation, placing our company in the top 5% of UK businesses for keeping our people at the heart of our success. We launch an exciting new range of beers under the Jack Brand label, including our first ever lager – Dry Hopped. A new summer beer, Adnams Fat Sprat is launched in support of the Marine Conservation Society, and Adnams Southwold Hotels achieve ‘Green Tourism’ Gold accreditation.
The Crown wins Suffolk Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2014, and we become the first UK brewery to carbon footprint our bottled beer range.
Adnams Vodka wins the Vodka Trophy at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, hot on the heels of the Gin Trophy last year. We open a new store in Aldeburgh and we re-home two hives of honey bees at our eco-friendly distribution centre in Reydon. Jack Brand Dry Hopped lager wins a Gold medal at the International Beer Challenge and we make a call to the community to collect their garden grown and hedgerow wild hops to help make our Wild Hop beer.
The Adnams Charity reaches an amazing £1 million since its launch in 1990.
After around 30 years, the Adnams wine department decide to no longer sell wines ‘en primeur’ due to changing markets.
Adnams brews a new Stout – Blackshore – named after the black-tarred fishing huts which line Southwold’s harbour.
We create our first 5L mini keg (bright beer that doesn’t need to settle) with Adnams Jack Brand Dry Hopped Lager.
Adnams distillery gets a little bit bigger with the additions of two more stills – one with an alembic head which is perfect for the production of Spirit of Broadside and our whiskies.
In March, we hired an enormous crane to lift in new equipment for the brewery, including our new refrigeration equipment and some waste tanks. This is the first stage of a larger project to bring in some extra tanks for our kegging line later in the year.