Norfolk Network stories

Add sunshine, shake and serve…

Charlie Watson
Singular Publishing

On a glorious June evening, 50 lucky Norfolk Networkers discovered one of Norwich’s best-kept secrets: the roof terrace at St George’s Works. The newly refurbished space afforded a fabulous sunset-facing view that stretched from City Hall in the south to the tower of St Augustine’s church and beyond in the north.

Better yet, the sponsor for the evening was Adnams, the Southwold-based brewer and distiller, which provided cool cocktails to accompany canapés from caterer Devour Food.

It started with an ‘alewife’

As guests sipped the first cocktail of the evening, Bradley Adnams, a fifth-generation member of one of the region’s best-known family businesses, spoke about Adnams’s history in brewing and, more recently, distilling, and about his own decision to join the firm.

The story of brewing and distilling in Southwold began as early as 1345, when an ‘alewife’ called Johanna de Corby was charged with serving short measures. “Not the best beginning, but still!” said Bradley. “It became Adnams Brewery in 1872, when two brothers, Ernest and George Adnams, bought the brewery.”

The family went on to establish a successful beer-making business in Britain, while some family members who had emigrated to South Africa over the generations ended up working for South African Breweries, which was recently sold to ABInbev, one of the world’s largest brewing corporations. Bradley himself was brought up in South Africa, but knew from a young age that the family business was for him.

“I ended up studying chemistry,” he explained, “and I think the main reason for that was that we had a microbrewery in our chemistry department, so we got to make beer, eat pizza and play darts [during] most of our university career!”

Bradley went on to describe the process by which Adnams entered the spirits industry and was very soon winning prestigious awards. But the gin-making success has been about more than just awards: Adnams is also winning market share. Copper House Gin, for example, is in 21st position by value in the UK. That doesn’t sound super-high if you say it quickly, but more than 300 gins are available in the UK market, with almost all the leading brands owned by big multinationals, so for an independent distiller to rank 21st is a significant achievement.

From juniper to iris

Later in the evening, groups of guests were able to hear Bradley describe the gin-making process in detail and to sit in on a cocktail masterclass. Then came a serious challenge from one of the Adnams team: could Bradley name, from memory, on the spot, the thirteen botanicals in Adnams First Rate Gin?

He could, and just in case you need them one day to answer a pub quiz tie-breaker, here they are: juniper, lemon peel, orange peel, cardamom, coriander, cassia bark, caraway seed, fennel seed, liquorice root, thyme, vanilla, angelica root and iris root.

Cocktails aside for a moment, Lucy Marks, MD of Norfolk Network, thanked the St George’s Works team for hosting, Adnams for their sponsorship, Devour for the great food, and all of Norfolk Network’s directors, members, suppliers, supporters and friends for making the evening – and the first half of 2017 – such a success.

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Event photos: Joe Lenton Photography

First Rate Summer

Here’s the recipe for one of the cocktails served at the party. Simply mix, pour and enjoy. And have a great summer!

  • 6 measures of Adnams First Rate Dry Gin
  • 3 measures of Mr Fitzpatrick’s Apple and Elderflower Cordial
  • 1 litre of lemonade or soda water
  • The juice of a freshly squeezed lemon
  • Ice