St Peter's Brewery, Ruby Red Ale
Make no mistake. It isn't all pretty bottles and hype that has got them this far. St Peter's make consistently decent beer too.
John Murphy is one of the UK's most influential branding gurus of the last two decades. This is the chap who named HobNobs biscuits, Prozac and the Metro Mini (quite a diverse portfolio that). In 1996, after selling his marketing consultancy empire, Interbrand, he launched St. Peter's Brewery next door to the moated, medieval St Peter's Hall near Bungay in the picturesque, unspoilt North Suffolk countryside.
He knew that in order to make an impact on the UK brewing scene, he'd have to do something special. Before even working on the beer to go in it, he decided that the bottles would be their statement piece.
The green, oval shaped vessels, reminiscent of vintage medicine bottles, are inspired by a similar beer container produced for Thomas Gerrard, an innkeeper with a tidewater inn on the Delaware River in Gibbstown, near Philadelphia, way back in 1770.
In less than 20 years St Peter's have become one of the leading producers of bottled beer in the UK. They export to 30 countries, sell to Sainsburys and Waitrose and also run one award-winning pub, the Jerusalem Tavern in London's Clerkenwell.
Make no mistake. It isn't all pretty bottles and hype that has got them this far. St Peter's make consistently decent beer too. Water from the brewery's own well, combined with locally-grown malted barley, hops and a talented, traditional head brewer in Mark Slater see to that.
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Their Best Bitter, Organic Ale and Old Style Porter are all solid core beers, which are then complimented by some more outlandish brews that recreate centuries old recipes… Lemon & Ginger Spiced Ale and the Grapefruit beer are worth hunting down.
For us, the Ruby Red Ale is the pick of the bunch. First brewed for Autumn, but now available all year round it pours exactly as you'd expect; a rich ruby hue with St Peter's trademark low carbonation resulting in a fleeting creamy head. Malts lead the way offering up a waft of nuts and blackcurrant before local Styrian Goldings hops give us more hedgerow fruit and a hint of clove spice, leaving behind an oily, bitter, grassy aftertaste. It's a balanced, smooth, rich English bitter.
The brewery was put up for sale in 2005 and again in 2013, but a buyer failed to come forward on both occasions. Rumour has it £12-£15 million will seal the deal. Makes £3 for this week's beer seem pretty good value.