St Peter’s Brewery was founded by John Murphy back in 1996. John is one of the UK's most influential branding gurus of the last quarter of a century. This is the chap who named HobNobs biscuits, Prozac and the Mini Metro whilst at the helm of his marketing consultancy empire.
He could have taken a lot of holidays when he sold Interbrand but decided to turn his sights on beer instead, establishing St. Peter's Brewery next door to the moated, medieval St Peter's Hall near Bungay in the picturesque North Suffolk countryside. The black raven and key on the bottle cap represent the protection of St Peter's inhabitants from the onslaught of Vikings.
It isn't all pretty bottles and hype that has enabled them to be in business for the last two decades. St Peter's make consistently decent beer too. The water is drawn from the brewery's own well and there’s a focus on locally-grown malted barley and hops. Their core range of beers gravitates towards the traditional end of the craft beer spectrum along with frequent seasonal nods towards centuries-old recipes.
This week’s beer is their award-winning Cream Stout. It was voted one of the Top 50 beers in the world in 2006 and has won the International Beer Competition, Porters and Stouts category, in 2006, 2004 and 2003.
Weighing in at a punchy 6.5% ABV, this strong, dark, and aromatic cream stout is rich black velvet in colour, with chocolate, coffee and vanilla notes coming from the blend of four local barley malts. Cream stout (also known as milk or sweet) contains lactose, a sugar derived from milk. Because lactose cannot be fermented by beer yeast, it adds sweetness and body and in this case, it adds a beautifully delicate creamy chocolate flavour. It’s not sickly sweet tough. There is a satisfying bittersweet aftertaste from two distinctly British hops; Fuggles and Challenger.
The best place to drink this beer? St Peter’s Brewery’s one and only pub; the cosy Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell, London. Bizarrely, it’s closed at weekends, but if you can squeeze in on a weeknight (it’s tiny), it’s a drinking establishment like few others. For everyone else, just enjoy this beer at home, perhaps in front of the fire.