Adnams Brewery Tour: Become a Suffolk Beer Explorer

by | Oct 3, 2016

Adnams Brewery, Southwold, Suffolk

Adnams brewery tour gives you a peek inside one of Britain’s most historic breweries. Delve into its past on your visit to Southwold and enjoy beer tasting by the sea.

Sole Bay Inn owned by Adnams Brewery in Southwold Suffolk
Tour Adnams brewery in Southwold and afterwards enjoy a pint in one of Adnams pubs in this lovely seaside town

I absolutely love the Suffolk seaside town of Southwold. Meandering along its lanes and alleyways, it’s impossible not to smell the biscuity aroma wafting from Adams brewery, tucked away behind the Swan Hotel.

In fact the Adnams name is everywhere – on pub signs, behind the bar, in shops and in their superb Cellar and Kitchen store. Take the Adnams Brewery tour, as I did, and you will find out how Southwold and the brewery are inextricably linked.

To finish your beer day out, have a pint of Ghost Ship in the Lord Nelson pub or the Sole Bay Inn.

The Foodie Travel Guide

Adnams Brewery –  a Taste of British Brewing History

Like Shepherd Neame Brewery in Kent, Adnams brewery in Southwold has impeccable brewing heritage.

It dates back to 1345 when the ale wives of the town were brewing beer and selling illegal measures.

By the 1600s, the Sole Bay Brewery Company was providing refreshment for the sailors of the English fleet, headquartered in the town, to fight off the threat from the Dutch navy.

Visit the Adnams Museum

It was in Victorian times that the brewery was purchased by the Adnams brothers who came from a successful brewing family.

The start of the brewery tour will take you to a small museum where you can see the diligently kept ledgers, books on malt and commemorative beer bottles including Rail Ale.

The beer celebrated the arrival, in 1879, of the railways which brought Victorian tourists to the seaside, benefiting both Southwold and the brewery.

Adnams Rail ale bottle
Adnams commerative Rail Ale

Jar of Mosaic hops
Pellets of dried hops including Mosaic

Watch the Brewing Process in Action

Adnams use grains grown in Suffolk and Norfolk which are then malted by Simpsons in Norwich. Hops come from England but also as far afield as New Zealand and Australia.

They brew in small batches and, even with 19 fermentation vessels, are struggling to keep up with demand.

On the brewery tour, you can peer into the mash tun which is like a giant bowl of Weetabix; walk around the Fermentation Room – it can cope with 19 different brews at the same time; and see the kegs, with their distinctive orange stripes, being filled in the Racking Room.

It’s hot, smelly and wet work.

Lauter tun at Adnams brewery southwold
The Lauter tun

Adnams beer-barrel
Watch the racking process on the Adnams brewery tour

Enjoy a Drink in the Tasting Room

At the end of the tour, you’re led to the Adnams Tasting Room. It has a giant recipe board detailing the hops and malts used in each brew.

You can sample whatever you like at the bar.

Try Ghost Ship, the brewery’s biggest selling summer beer. It’s a ghostly pale ale which takes its inspiration from Adnams 600-year-old haunted pub, The Bell in Walberswick. Brewed with a selection of malts – Pale Ale, Rye and Cara, it has citrus flavours from Citra and a blend of other American hop varieties.

Mosaic is a single hop beer with a golden colour. Its bold mango, peach, lemon and pine flavours go well with a lamb tagine.

Bottle Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale
Adnams Mosaic Pale Ale

Adnams Brewery Bar Beer Tasting Board
Adnams beer tasting board

Have a Pint in the Lord Nelson Pub

Carry on tasting afterwards by having a relaxing pint in one of Adnams historic pubs – The Lord Nelson or The Sole Bay Inn.

There are also free tastings in Adnams excellent Cellar and Kitchen Store. You could easily spend an hour in there just browsing.

The smart café, with its seating inspired by the brewery and distillery, is a handy spot afterwards for lunch or tea and cake.

Exterior Lord Nelson Pub Southwold
The Lord Nelson Pub in Southwold

Adnams cafe
The interior of Adnams Café is inspired by the brewery and distillery

  • The brewery building has lots of steps and floors that can be slippy, so make sure you wear flat, non-slip footwear
  • To see how Adnams distill vodka, gin and whisky, do the Adnams distillery tour
  • Pop into Adnams Southwold shop, it’s full of fantastic products for foodies
  • Stay at The Swan, Adnams Hotel in Southwold. It’s recently undergone a major refurbishment
  • Visit the Aldeburgh Food Festival in September, held at Snape Maltings, and have a beer at Adnams Boat Bar


Dog Policy Mr Hendricks says, “They tell me that they love dogs, but they are not allowed in the brewery. If you have a Guide Dog please contact them and they’ll do their best to accommodate you”.

How to Find Adnams Brewery in Southwold

The Meeting Point for Adnams Brewery Tour is at East Green, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6JW

Adnams Brewery


The Foodie Travel Guide

The Foodie Travel Guide

Sally is the founder and editor of The Foodie Travel Guide. She travels around the UK and beyond in search of the best foodie days out, tasting experiences and delicious places to stay. She loves a glass of English sparkling wine, afternoon tea with friends and escaping London for gastronomic adventures. 

Adnams Brewery Tour

  • See Adnams memorabilia in the museum
  • Smell the hops and malted barley
  • See the Fermentation Room
  • Watch the racking process
  • Enjoy a tutored beer tasting

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Bedroom The Swan Hotel Southwold Suffolk

Find the Best Places to Stay in Suffolk

Take the guesswork out of where to stay in Suffolk with our hotel recommendations. Check out the newly refurbished Swan hotel in Southwold which is owned by Adnams brewery.