Named in honour of Parson James Woodforde, an 18th Century clergyman who wrote lovingly in his diaries of a love for good food and great beer, our story starts in the 1960’s during the new-wave revolution of home brewers creating authentic flavours and crafting their own beers.
Great tasting beer, brewed with passion and pride since 1981.
We’ve always stayed true to our values by using the best locally grown malt, carefully selected fresh whole hop flowers and water from the ancient aquifer below us.
Woodforde’s is home to a wide range of beers and ales including two Supreme Champion Beers of Britain, and the FIFTYTWO° NORTH collection of craft beers.
Read about our rich, beer-filled history and how we are where we are today!
After many years of home-brewing, good friends Ray Ashworth and Dr David Crease founded the brewery in Drayton, to the east of Norwich.
Equipment was used from around the region including from the Bass Experimental Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, and lemon juice vessels from Colman’s of Norwich which were converted into fermenting tanks.
The first brew of 4 barrels took place on 5th April, and Wherry Bitter was born.
We soon outgrew our first home and moved to a converted stable block at “The Spread Eagle” public house in Erpingham.
Working with local coppersmiths F W Hall of Norwich, a new wort copper was installed.
After only a few months, fire struck, and production temporarily moved to Mauldon’s Brewery in Suffolk.
On returning to the site we launched a new beer, “Phoenix XXX”, to celebrate.
With increased demand came a need for even more space, as Wherry Bitter became the region’s most popular cask ale.
We moved to our forever home at the heart of the Norfolk Broads in a set of thatched farm buildings on the Woodbastwick Estate.
The very first brew at the newly named “Broadland Brewery” was Nelson’s Revenge in the October of 1989.
We won the highest accolade in British Beer from CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival, as Norfolk Nog won the “Champion Old Ale of Britain” and went on to be awarded “Supreme Champion Beer of Britain.
With our award-winning beers, we needed great pubs to sell it in and by 1993, we had 3 pubs of our own.
Joining the Freemason’s Arms in Norwich and The Fur & Feather Inn at the brewery in Woodbastwick was The Ingham Swan, near Stalham.
More awards came our way too, with Mardlers Mild winning “Champion Mild Ale of Britain” and Headcracker becoming “Champion Barley Wine of Britain”.
Wherry was awarded “Supreme Champion Beer of Britain”, and we entered a tiny super league of just four British breweries to have won the title twice.
This led to increased demand once again and annual production exceeded 5,000 barrels for the first time, as well as launching our own range of Home Brew Kits, with Wherry still being the best-selling beer kit in the UK today.
Only 2 years after Dr David Crease had returned to the brewery full time as Head Brewer, founder and very first head brewer Ray Ashworth retires with new owners Mike Betts and Dennis Nudd becoming joint MD’s and renewed our lease with the Woodbastwick Estate securing our future.
Reaching record sales, the brewery once again needed more space, and this time we didn’t need to move!
An expansion of the current site began with the steel framed extension you see today housing new fermentation and new racking tanks to support the growing demand for our award-winning cask ales.
Taking our ales to new audiences, we were awarded a five-year contract as the main cask ale supplier to Glastonbury Festival.
We started a tour of the Woodforde’s Bar over the coming years to places such as O2 Music Festival in Hyde Park, the GBBF at Olympia and other CAMRA beer festivals around the country.
We were the first brewery to host a bar at the Cambridge Beer Festival in 2005.
With sales now at over 13,000 barrels, Woodforde’s was selected to be the first supplier of bottle conditioned ales to Marks & Spencer where you will still find our beers today.
The last of our founders retired as David Crease hung up his brewer’s coat, but he’s still involved with the brewery today as part of our tour guide team.
As investment in the brewery site exceeded £2.5m and a new 60-barrel brewhouse from Briggs Engineering was installed.
We appointed Neil Bain as Head Brewer, a Master Brewer who has since gone on to become the most influential person in Woodforde’s modern history and is the custodian of our current range.
After production exceeded 20,000 barrels in the previous year and having won Champion Brewery of East Anglia by readers of The Morning Advertiser, we were honoured to win The Pride of Norfolk at the Eastern Daily Press Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2012; reflecting our commitment to be born and brewed in Norfolk.
As well as winning the Morning Advertiser readers award for Champion Brewery of East Anglia again in 2013, we went on to achieve one of the most coveted awards for a brewery in 2015.
The Good Pub Guide named us Brewery of the Year, which is an acknowledgement of the passion and pride that goes into every beer we brew.
We entered new territory with new owners investing in the brewery enabling us to start projects such as installing our own bottling and canning line, as well as launching our own keg range of lager and pale ales over the next few years.
Highlighting our commitment to our home county, we began a 5-year sponsorship of Norwich City Football club and the famous Barclay Stand, bringing our famous Wherry and our newest keg beer Norada to the clubs’ bars and kiosks.
In what turned out to be a good year, coming back where he belongs Neil Bain returned as Head Brewer after a couple of years away to steer the brewery through the next stage of growth.
Perhaps one of the most prestigious awards available in brewing around the world, our new IPA Volt, wins Gold at the International Brewing Awards in the Cask Conditioned Beer - Class 3 catagory.
As a result, Volt launched in bottles the following year becoming part of our core range.
With an incredible hard year for everyone, we worked hard to keep growing and not let COVID19 set us back.
There was an increased demand for our beers in supermarkets so we brought all packing in house meaning the quality is second to none and handled with the same care by the same people who brewed it.
Woodforde's Brewery turned 40!
We celebrated 40 years in style with special merchandise, 40th anniversary seasonal ales all year (including the return of old favourites) and we launched a new product - Albion.
Albion is our first stout and is named about the traditional Norfolk Wherry, known as the "black sailed trader".
We also helped reopen The Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe, along with the Holkham Estate, after a five-year closure.
We had our biennial ale trail where 100s of pubs across seven counties take part. We had an incredible turn out and it was great to get everyone out into pubs again.
We launched a new cyder to join Norfolk Adder called Black Adder, a dark fruits cyder.
STOCK OUR BEER
We supply our beer and cyder to pubs, bars and restaurants across the East of England including across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.