Saturday, January 14, 2012

Greene King and A Brief History of British Beer: Part 2

The view from the roof at Greene King

The top of the Greene King brewery tower provides a vantage point from which one can survey all of the town and a great deal of West Suffolk itself. Rolling farmland surrounds the town and on the near horizon the towering structure of the local maltery dominates the landscape. It also serves to remind that this is prime beer making territory for both barley and hops are grown locally (the legendary hop fields of Kent are a short drive south).

The brewery has become a symbol of modern British brewing. Greene King has grown to become the largest of the British heritage brewers and inhabits a market that commands a very small but growing share of the overall beer market in Britain. Its sales are growing which is quite an achievement as the overall beer market is Britain is shrinking fairly rapidly.

Greene King brews ‘real’ ale – beer that has been brewed with top fermenting yeast and served via a cask that contains active yeast, which adds a subtle amount of carbonation without the addition of injected CO2. Real ale has been the subject of a concerted effort to bring back this traditional style of beer – a style that was almost completely lost as the large international lager brewers came to dominate the British beer market. How this happened is a story in itself.

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