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Greene King Brewery, Bury St Edmunds

Hey guys!

This weekend we were back to trying a number of bottled beers, from various breweries. I happened upon a well know supermarket gift voucher, so what better way to use it than raid the beer isle. So Jon, Dan, and Myself took it upon us to try a number of these beers.  In particular we had a few from Greene King so thought that it would be appropriate to taste them all and see what we thought!

Now more than likely, if you have ever been in a pub, especially around Suffolk, you will have heard of Greene King. Their IPA is served almost everywhere, and their Ruddles is always on in a Wetherspoons.

This is due to the fact that Greene King is now one of the biggest breweries around. At least one of the biggest British owned breweries. Between 1999 and 2006 Greene king acquired Ruddles, Moorlands, Ridleys, Bellhaven and Hardeys and Hansons.  Now each of these breweries were closed, and are now brewed at the Westgate brewery. All with the exception of Bellhaven who still brew from their brewery n Dunbar, Scotland (which was the oldest independent brewery in Scotland until 2005, and is also contracted to brew and bottle Innis and Gun beers!)

So Greene King gets mixed opinions from the Real Ale scene, as there is the view that they are starting to try to monopolise the market on real ale. As mentioned its hard to go to any bar/pub or shop without seeing a beer that’s brewed or owned by Greene King! Saying that, there are many lovers of Greene King, and they do have a large variety of different ales. When Greene King acquire another brewery they are not required to continue the beers originally produced there, the worry is that this would lead to a lack of choice for real ale drinkers, with smaller breweries beers being discontinued. Although, at least around Suffolk, there are a number of micro/small breweries that have opened in the last few years, and so far we havent had our choices too limited when we’ve visited pubs.

Anyway, business politics aside, Greene King is a huge brand! Originally starting in 1799, opened by  Benjamin Greene, he took over the Wrights Brewery on the same site as the brewery stands now, which was built in 1700. The first major expansion to the brewery came in 1836 when running the company was given to the son Edmund Greene. By 1877 the brewery had continued to expand, take on malting partners, and had 148 public houses around the region. In 1931 the take over two more breweries, again increasing its hold on the public houses in the region. A new brewhouse was built in 1938 in view of more demand in the coming years. Over the next few years it developed into the brewery we know today.

Greene King now has over 2000 managed and leased pubs. They also own the Loch Fyne restaurant chain with over 35 restaurants, and the Hungry Horse venues. they also have around 130 Old English Inns, which are bars/hotels so with rooms available. All in all, Greene King as a whole is huge, which makes our tasting of six of their bottled beers seem meagre, so we will definitely be looking out to pick up some more until we have tried the entire product line.

Again, that’s the long part of me rambling out the way, now onto the beers we tried!

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Greene King – Gold IPA 4.1%

A distinctively gold colour, aptly named! A lot of fizz to it, great carbonation. It did give a slightly harsh almost acidic taste, and we personally thought it was mildly bland. It wasnt hopped well, and certainly wasn’t a flowery beer. Overall better than expected.

Greene  King – IPA 3.6% 

A darker gold colour, more of a copper ale. Again had great carbonation however was smoother that the Gold. Was a very drinkable  beer, as proved by the fact it’s served in most pubs! All in all, a standard IPA.

Greene King – Abbot Reserve 6.5%

This beer had a much deeper flavour than the IPAs. You could definitely taste the higher strength. It was a dark copper colour, and gave quite a robust flavour. We could pick out a fruit cake smell, however it didn’t follow-up in the taste. We did enjoy this beer mainly due to the fact it had some complexity to it.

Greene King – Suffolk Springer 6.0%

A dark ruby coloured ale. It was very malty, and in fact tasted slightly to sweet to us. It was even slightly sickly!

Tolly Cobbald (Greene King) – Tolly English Ale 2.8%

This started off as not the most fragrant beer, with a strange aroma to it. It turned out to not improve with taste, it was very bland. You can pick a slight sense of bitterness and flavour as it reaches the back of the mouth, but that soon vanishes. We were rather disappointed.

So we tried mainly beers from the Greene King main name, and still then only had a small snapshot of the beers they produce. they have numerous pther beers that are cask-conditions and bottled. Like I mentioned you will not have to try very hard to find a Greene King beer in a pub, so try one! It certainly is drinkable. We came to the conclusion that it is certainly good beer, however there was nothing that wowed us, but as its a beer marketed to a mass audience I imagine it has to be a standard, drinkable beer. A beer that, if all else failed and the landlord had somehow ordered in casks or terrible local ales, you could order a Greene King and know you will have a semi-decent pint.

They have a great website with a load of information on, and also a good list of all the many beers the produce so have a look here.

We look forward to trying more Greene King ales, and also look out for out next blog on the rest of the beers I managed to acquire with a lucky supermarket gift voucher!


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This entry was posted on November 1, 2012 by in Beers and tagged , .
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