A taste of the country

Jessica Mason looks at the breweries typifying regional styles


With lockdown putting many of our most beloved regional breweries under the kosh, a desire to support local has dramatically accelerated the existing trend toward regionality. Jessica Mason identifies the rural breweries that epitomise what each county tastes like and shines a light on a selection of countryside locations and the beers that define them.

Bedfordshire | Wells & Co

Wells & Co, formerly Charles Wells, has been honing its skill set in Bedfordshire for centuries. But, more recently, the family brewer has spent the past three years on its Wandering Brewer project - travelling to breweries across the UK to brew beers collaboratively. Give its Charlie Wells Triple Hop IPA a go and keep an eye on its new location, Brewpoint, because there’s rather a lot of new beer experimentation set for the next chapter.

Berkshire | Siren Craft Brew

There’s so much to love about Siren. From Broken Dream to Soundwave, this brewery has never stood still. The team also loves to experiment with flavour combinations and doesn’t shy away from beers that are full bodied with layers of complexity. A brewery that has consistently shown drinkers that Berkshire knows a thing or two about barrel aged beer. Added to this, the way the brewery communicates is always with candid honesty and care. The team is unaffected, friendly and upholds an image that showcases remarkable talent.

PHOTO: Danilo D'Agostino

Cornwall | St Austell

Tribute and Proper Job are as synonymous to Cornwall as pasties, cream teas and surfing. This makes St Austell one of the few breweries to really echo in the hearts and minds of many a visiting grockle. Just a few sips can be transportative and if you close your eyes while drinking, you can almost see a sandy stretch of coastline, a fishing harbour and seaside bunting behind the lids of your eyes. You can hear gulls and feel the wind in your hair.

Leicestershire | Framework

Housed in a Victorian red brick building in Leicester’s industrial heartland lives a brewery that shows how progressive the Leicestershire beer scene has become. With permanent and seasonal lines to suit most palates, the beers range from zesty and refreshing right through to indulgent and memorable. Shout outs go to the Semper and Keep the Faith from their most recent ranges and are available in bottles and mini kegs. 

Derbyshire | Thornbridge

Ever since the mid-noughties and our first taste of Jaipur, Thornbridge has kept our heads turned. Known for its necessary expansion to meet demand as well as its penchant for collaborations with brewers from around the world, many a Derbyshire beer from this brewery has been treasured, savoured and heralded as well-crafted, the epitome of game-changing beer as well as a brewery that, despite expansion, has remained admired to this day. 

PHOTO: Colin Watts

Devon | Utopian

This independent craft lager brewery hidden in Devon blends British ingredients with decoction mashing and shows us what can be achieved when taking a modern approach in terms of sustainability along with the art revered from traditionalist brewing methods. The new taste of Devon. Devoted to the future of beer, while also doing things right. Doing things well. Also, simply making beers you want to drink again and again whether you’re picnicking on the moors or fossil hunting on the coastline. 

Gloucestershire | DEYA

There has always been a real thirst for the beers that Theo Freyne has created at DEYA. Heavily influenced by the craft movement across the pond in the US, DEYA brought us juice bombs that made Gloucestershire and, indeed, the rest of the UK sit up and pay attention. Hat tip to Steady Rolling Man - a beer that just keeps on giving and really shows the skill at play at DEYA. 

Kent | Gadd’s, The Ramsgate Brewery

Kentish style ales that not only often showcase the nuances of local hop varieties in its flagship range, but also shows how to deftly flex its brewing ability by dishing out the odd innovative beer each year. Gadd’s also has its Small Batch Project to create prototype beers and dabble with flavour. Look out for these - they’re rarely announced and sell out as quickly as they arrive. Gadd’s No 5 is, especially, a stroke of pure genius. An incredibly well-balanced and elegant beer that keeps you reaching for the next sip.

PHOTO: Chris Spalton

Norfolk | Duration

From the outset, the plan for Duration was to create beers that belonged to their location. This meant fresh, wild and blended farmhouse-style ales that felt suitable for their West Acre home within the Nar Valley Pilgrim Trail. Duration has always drawn inspiration from nature and what is all around to produce everyday, slow, agricultural and spontaneous beer. When you’re tasting a Duration beer, it’s the woodland, the chalk, the streams, the flora and fauna of rural Norfolk. Duration brews exciting and tasty beers that both refresh the palate as well as make you contemplative and thoughtful about your surroundings all at once. 

Oxfordshire | Hook Norton

An independent family-owned brewery in the Cotswolds that doesn’t just make award winning beers that are well balanced and moreish, but also runs a shop, a museum and a pub estate too. If you’ve never enjoyed a pint of Hooky, a gentle and eminently sessionable amber bitter, then you need to pop it onto your ‘to try’ list. Similarly, Old Hooky, which has a more voluptuous body and a fruitier backbone is also well worth your time. In Oxfordshire? Seek out a pint or two in the local hostelries. Incredible on cask.

Somerset | Wild Beer Co

It has often been noted that beers from Wild Beer Co have their own terroir. Or rather, the sense of place attached to the beers is interlinked into their identity. Wild Beer Co is known for brewing genuinely exciting, sometimes complex, wild beer. Lots of its beers reflect a love of flavour, fermentation and barrel-ageing experimentation. The house wild yeast was captured in a neighbouring cider orchard and the team often forages for seasonal, wild ingredients from around the local area. This is what gives you as the drinker, a true taste of Somerset.

PHOTO: Haydon Curteis-Lateo

Suffolk | Adnams

When you think of Adnams, you think of its coastal home of Southwold, the sea and the freshness of the sea air. You also think of Ghost Ship and Broadside, beachy scenes and then there are beauties like Triple Knot that show it knows a thing or two about maturation and creating honeyed notes - or its recent foray into the low and no alcohol scene where the vegan Ghost Ship has been recreated at 0.5% abv and tastes incredibly moreish and uncompromised. Adnams isn’t just a brewery to admire from afar though. It’s one of those breweries that takes you to the rural Suffolk coast glass by glass. 

Sussex | Burning Sky

Tucked away in the village of Firle in the South Downs is a farmhouse brewery consistently producing outstanding beers that are both playful and tasty. The interplay of balance and zestiness always keeps you transfixed. Expect barrel ageing, blending and spontaneously fermented coolship beers as well as a core range of biting and delicious straw coloured sessionable pales. Mark Tranter heads up Burning Sky and is yet to make a beer that isn’t delectable and characterful while also drawing you back to that rolling Sussex landscape and thoughts of hedgerows and countryside strolls.

Yorkshire | North Brew Co

Founded by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley, the chaps behind legendary Leeds beer venue North Bar, often cited as the first craft beer bar in Britain, the duo began brewing their own beer beginning North Brew Co back in 2015. Its core range is incredibly well-hopped, juicy and they have hands down a flavour-forward approach to making delicious beer in Yorkshire. Try Transmission if you haven’t. Also Full Fathom 5 - the coconut porter is also well worth your appraisal too. Want to taste Yorkshire, look no further.

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