County Stat Attack Week 36 - Suffolk

Diving in a few hours early this week as tomorrow is chocabloc full.

We drop back into the Kingdom of East Anglia for week 36 and the coastal county of Suffolk. Meaning ‘Folk of the South’, settled by Angles in the 5th Century. The most important Anglo Saxon settlements were in Ipswich and Sudbury. Suffolk suffered severely from Danish incursions, only recently avenged :wink:. The county had a large fishing industry with Herring and Mackerel a major food source, it remains an agricultural county and was also important for linen and sail cloth. There are many archaeological finds within the county including the fantastic Sutton Hoo site with a complete ship burial containing a collection of treasures.

Much of the country is low lying with sand and clay soils. The North Sea coast is eroding rather rapidly here with many houses and even villages ending up in the briny. The east coast contains an area of heathland known as The Sandings, running almost the full length of the coast, there are marsh areas too. There is a clay plateau inland known as High Suffolk. The largest towns in the county are Ipswich, Lowestoft, Bury St. Edmonds, Haverhill, Felixstowe and Newmarket.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 67 Breweries, 42 currently active and 25 sadly closed. Just 6 of these are Client / Commissioner Breweries.

The oldest brewery we have for Suffolk is also the UK’s current largest, Greene King of Bury St. Edmonds (Est 1799). Founded by a 19 year old Benjamin Greene who became quite unpopular for his ownership of slave plantations and his views on slavery being critical of those who called for the abolition. GK bought Rayments brewery after WWII and grew quickly up to the 60’s but still remained a regional brewer. Faster growth was achieved by buying and closing other breweries towards the end of the 20th century including Morland of Abingdon, giving them Britain’s number 1 brand at the time but pitting them against many beer lovers. The pub chain part of the business was also grown by acquisitions. They are now the leading pub retailer in the country along with biggest brewer.

In the 2020 Ratebeer awards for Suffolk the Best Brewer award went to Burnt Mill Brewery of Badley (Est 2017), the Best Beer went to the same Brewery with Burnt Mill / Mikkeller The Weight of Brunch (Cognac BA)

The Top 10 Beers of Suffolk are –

  1. Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve
  2. Old Chimneys Good King Henry R
  3. Burnt Mill / Mikkeller The Weight of Brunch (Cognac BA)
  4. Burnt Mill / Finback Swimming Giants
  5. Old Chimneys Good King Henry (Brewed at Grain)
  6. Old Chimneys Red Admiral R
  7. Burnt Mill Great Bitter Lake
  8. Burnt Mill / Cloudwater Lying Low
  9. Green Jack Baltic Trader
  10. Burnt Mill / Other Half All On Green

The Top 5 Pubs & Bars in Suffolk are –

  1. Dove Street Inn, Ipswich – 81
  2. Fat Cat, Ipswich – 80
  3. Spread Eagle (Grain), Ipswich – 76
  4. Beerhouse (Brewshed), Bury St Edmunds – 75
  5. St Jude’s Brewery Tavern, Ipswich – 74

There is also a highly rated Bottle Shop in Suffolk

  1. Beautiful Beers, Bury St Edmunds – 93

The Top 5 Raters of beers from Suffolk are –

  1. @Grumbo
  2. @imdownthepub
  3. @fonefan
  4. @cgarvieuk
  5. @harrisoni

You will require 133 Suffolk beers to get into the top 50.

The Top Rater currently residing in Suffolk is –
@Grumbo who is a regular and welcome contributor to our weekly tour.


I’m getting my reply in early too.

For me Suffolk is a tucked away county, difficult to get to from where I live, but well worth it when you do put the effort in. It’s all about the coast though when we do visit, I have walked much of it having stayed there a few times. Kessingland is a particular favourite, being able to walk to Southwold and then on to Aldeburgh, with the odd ferry thrown in. Southwold is of course the home of Adnams, it’s a lovely little town, rather touristy though. Adnams do tend to dominate the pubs around this area along with Greene King.

We used to get to Portman Road for the football, it’s funny that they have taken on the term Tractor Boys as in our day it used to be something we used to sing to them and they weren’t keen. I was due to go to the East Anglian Beer Festival in St. Neots this August until I noticed how much it was going to cost. I have cancelled.
One of the camp sites we used to stay at in the county was next to the small zoo in Kessingland. It was really strange to wake up to monkeys screaming and a particularly loud lion roaring, the ground used to shake.

I used to be the top beer rater for the county but @Grumbo overtook me a while ago and is going strong. When Greed Kerching took over the Morrells and Morland Breweries in Oxfordshire half the pubs in the area fell into their sweaty palms, for a while the only chance of a new beer was their ever changing one off beers, virtually the same beer each time with just a hint of change in a single element. I ended up being top rater for the brewery by default, I actively avoid them now. I have 436 ratings currently across 33 breweries, equal 3rd in that list. Suffolk is 13th highest rated county for me but with a rather low average of just 3.01, I wonder why? I have had beers from 33 different Suffolk Breweries placing me in equal 3rd.

The Breweries I have had most beers from are –

  1. Greene King Brewery – 133
  2. Adnams – 87
  3. Nethergate Brewery – 50
  4. St. Peters Brewery – 31
  5. Mauldons – 20
  6. Green Jack Brewing Co. – 18

I have rated 13 beers with a mark of 4 or over, the best being –

  1. Greene King Strong Suffolk / Old Suffolk – 4.5 (you have to be fair in the end)
  2. Morland Hens Tooth – 4.3 (Before it went into the GK stable)
  3. Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve – 4.3
  4. Old Cannon Gunners Daughter – 4.2
  5. Mill Green Good Ship Arbella – 4.2
  6. Iceni Men of Norfolk – 4.1
  7. Adnams / Stone Supremely Self Conscious Black Ale – 4.1
  8. Greene King Suffolk Porter – 4.1
  9. Little Earth Project Big Smoke Stale Porter – 4.1

The Suffolk Breweries with my highest average score are –

  1. Burnt Mill Brewery – 3.544
  2. Little Earth Project – 3.48

Unfortunately these were the only 2 worth noting, all others were below 3.3

I have reviewed just 3 places in Suffolk, one of my poorest returns, possibly due to the domination by the big 2 breweries. The only one worth a mention is –

  1. Triangle Tavern (Green Jack) – 74

No current plans to get back there now, after cancelling the Beer Festival trip, I do however want to get to St. Neots just to see how easy it is to avoid you know who. Having said that, they are capable of brewing good beer, but it does seem to be a rare occurrence.


Suffolk is all about Greene King, the grey squirrel of East Anglia breweries. Even in Cambridge there were waaaaay too many Greene King pubs, same with Bedford (that may have been leftover from when they had the brewery in Biggleswade). They aren’t that bad a brewery, although they have lots of really bland seasonal golden beers (all too often revolving around sports themes). You can’t find GK in any pub in Leicester, and that’s refreshing really.

However I got there, Suffolk is my 4th most rated county with 185 beers. This gets me a respectable 32nd in the leaderboard, although it is slipping all the time after moving out of the area (I’ve only had 2 Suffolk beers in the last two years).

Quite a few beers above the 4 mark. The best of the lot:

Most-rated breweries? No surprise that Greene King is top (55), followed by Adnams (41), St Peter’s (15), Nethergate (15) and Mauldons (11). I’ve tried 20 breweries in all, 17 of which are still going.

Despite living in a neighbouring county for a few years, I’ve only visited Suffolk a few times: Newmarket, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds twice. I order fairly frequently from Bury St Edmunds - they have a good selection of East Anglian breweries as well as a great Belgian range - and it’s a great store to visit. The top places are

It’ a bit out of the way now but I’d love to go back & try more Suffolk places. Ipswich sounds like it borders on a destination and I’d love to go to the Little Earth Project.

First rate: Nethergate’s Old Growler in cask in a Wetherspoons on 29 May 2013.

Last rate: Burnt Mill / Dugges Skärsgård at the Two-Tailed Lion on 22 May. An absolutely top rate IPA.


Know parts of Suffolk fairly well, the Waveney Coast really; my parents had a permanent caravan in Southwold and we’d take the kids there for holidays every year. Sadly they sold it in 2010, before I joined RB. Re-visited in 2015 for a weekend and that accounts for my three place reviews from the county, can’t believe I haven’t written about the St Peter’s brewery and it’s hall, love the place!

Been to see the Mighty Mariners at Ipswich a few times and I had a mate who lived in Woodbridge and have stayed with him (he’s moved now though). Framlingham Castle is a lovely day out and Southwold on Thames (as we now call it) used to be smashing before the London lot and their money turned up.

Like most of us Green King dominates my beery totals with me trying 74 of their beers, Adnams on 51 and St Peter’s on 19 make up my top three, with Old Chimneys @ 3.71 being the highest rated quality wise. It’s also my highest positioned UK brewery.

My grand total of 203 beers rated gets me to equal 25th on the RB leader board and 8th in my English county list.

7 Ciders, all from Aspall Cyder, no Mead or Sake as yet.

Top Beer List (a strange selection)

Adnams Broadside is also my wife’s favourite UK cask ale.



Quick ditty on Suffolk before I get buried in work.

My 8th highest rated county with 332 rates.

Average score is 3.32 which puts it in a fairly respectable 14th overall place in terms of my highest scoring county … however if you take away it’s scoring saviour for me (Burnt Mill) I expect it would plummet somewhat in this respect !

Happy to say GK not leading the way … Burnt Mill who I do like and seek out are on 83 rates then Adnams 61 and GK pushed to third spot on 54.

Special mention to Old Chimneys of whose GKH and reserve share top rated beer spot with some Burnt Mill hops on 4.2.

Place wise just the two … spoons and the Triangle Tavern (Green Jack) both in Lowestoft on a recent(ish) visit in late 2016.

Have sank pints in Ipswich before on football trips but nowhere stands out and way before RB days…

Visited Portman Road to see Leicester twice … lost 4-2 in March 1996 … we were on a bad streak … Steve Claridge made his debut for us and IT club legend (and star of the silver screen !!!) John Wark bagged a goal … his last ever for the club I’ve just read.

Revenge was taken the following season as we beat IT at Portman Road on our way to League Cup glory beating them 0-1 in the QF thanks to a solitary Mark Robbins goal.

My final trip to Portman Road was to see England play Croatia under the guidance of Sven when Wembley was being rebuilt … IIRC England won this friendly.


Brilliant intro as always @imdownthepub to my county - a county which now has no less than 3 very active RB raters following the arrival of @shig and my introduction to @ITFCfan of the delights (obsession) of rating.

I’m delighted to say that for me Suffolk is not all about Grrrrr (them lot) they make up much less than 10% of my Suffolk rates (46 out of 535) which puts them 3rd. Adnams (who were my transition brewer from lagers to ale around 25 years ago) are top on 60 with Burnt Mill on 50 though I expect them to be top soon. Briarbank, Ipswich’s worthy though slightly hit and miss brewpub (at least according to the Danes), are on 44. But then what do those Danish boys know?? (Briarbank is opposite The Nelson which if you happen to be passing is worth pointing out if they’re getting cocky about what the Vikings did to us back in the day).

It was only really the arrival of @shig that finally encouraged me to get into volume rating of my home county, prior to that I’d been much more interested in my out of county/country beer travels and had been happy to get one per brewery but that’s all changed now (coinciding also with not being able to travel plus the quality/volume/availability of the counties breweries ramping up).

Besides the obvious heavyweight relative newcomer in Burnt Mill, the last few years has seen a significant increase in new breweries in the county including 6 in 2020. Some stand-outs newbies for me from recent years are Star Wing, Weird Sisters, Humber Doucy, Stow Fen, De Vossen and Artefact, plus I’m expecting big things from Biochemist who I recently bought a set from though have yet to try them (they do beers and ciders).

Ipswich, the county town, isn’t quite my town. That’s Kesgrave. But Kesgrave is home only to a Hungry Horse (ping food before the pingdemic) and a locals pub (The Bell) with it’s stock Southwold bitter, GrrrrrIPA and if you’re really lucky London Pride. So Ipswich is generally where I will drink local though Woodbridge is close too so if we want to go somewhere prettier but with less beer choice we go there.

Suffolk is my 3rd most rated region place wise (beaten by London and Tyne & Wear) on 52 places. Beautiful Beers in Bury St Edmunds and the Fat Cat and Dove (Ipswich) are my top 3 open places. Ipswich has enough decent pubs to make a day (or two) trip worthwhile (if anyone would like a tour let me know) with those I’ve mentioned (Fat Cat, Dove, Briarbank and Nelson) joined by others such as Arcade St Tavern, Duke of York, St. Judes, Spread Eagle, Hopsters, Steamer and Three Wise Monkeys.

Outside of Ipswich there are worthy places in Stowmarket (Gladstone Arms, Walnut Tree, Kings Head and Royal William) and Bury St Edmunds (where you can get something other than GrrrrrIPA if you search it out eg Brewshed Beerhouse, Dove, Old Cannon and Oakes Barn) plus many a worthy countryside pub (which the local CAMRA Real Ale Runabout used to be a great way to get to).

As for the football, well the Tractor Boys (so named from our days of ploughing up the Premiership) have of course been in decline ever since - it’s been a tough 20 years with some very poor managerial choices - but with new owners, management structure, and a new team being put together (how bad/sad that we got to a point where apart from an injury prone left-back we told pretty much the entire squad to f-off!!!) we’re hopeful of better days ahead. Maybe we won’t ever win the FA Cup, UEFA cup or League again (yes we did all those things once upon a time - our fanzine isn’t called Those Were The Days for no reason) but there are at least real prospects of local derbies against the budgies in 22/23.


Will be heading to Suffolk in a few weeks and the #1 priority for me is a return to Little Earth Project’s White Horse. One of my favourite UK breweries. Will probably swing by for lunch - although I will have to predominantly stick to takeaway bottles as I will be on driving duty (Edit - they’re not open on the day we’re driving up and kitchen is currently closed so will need to rethink that one).

I have had a few trips to Suffolk in recent years thanks to my wife having Uni friends who live in Woodbridge and over the border in Thetford. Only really got to make the most of it when the Mrs was a bridesmaid so I had a free evening and went to the White Horse before staying a few hours in the Calvors pub in NM - I seem to remember that the 7 beers that night made me their #1 rater for a while. Stayed a week at Thetford Centre Parc as well but the ticking options that week reflected poorly on both Suffolk and Norfolk. Did at least swing by Beautiful Beers. Nine place ratings in total:


97 ticks in total which does put Suffolk in 7th, the top rated being:


16 breweries and then 2 ciders from Aspells - the Top 5 being:

It occurs to me that at least GK are happy to allow their landlords to bring in guest beers… and also set up brewpubs… i.e. the Big Smoke pubs, Felday in Surrey, at least on bewpub in Bridlington and Queen Inn in Wichester. I guess they know that their own beers are not much of an attraction.


Not sure if it is your thing but you can camp at the White Horse (Little Earth Project) we camped there, many years ago but I follow them on Twitter and they are often talking about their camping, in fact I think that it might have expanded a bit since the time we went.

It was Mill Green brewery when we camped there.


I was considering staying in one of their cabins.

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93 Suffolk rates for me, my highest is Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve with 4.2

Have only been to Suffolk the once which was to Ipswich in 2018 for @Grumbo’s “not the only rater in Suffolk tasting” along with @shig. Three Suffolk place ratings from that visit: the Dove Street Inn, the Fat Cat and Briarbank Brewing Company.

In terms of cider, there are 6 active cideries, with Aspall’s (bought up by Molson Coors in 2018) having the most entries with 33

The top 5 raters for Suffolk Ciders and Cideries are:

SuffolkCider Ratings


Interesting to see afew no longer rating still in those lists



I weigh in with 10 Suffolk rates, which puts it in 8th place in my England regions - with 4 Suffolk beers in the cellar, it will likely jump up a place in the near future (although maybe not as my backlog is long, so there is the potential for a few ups and downs). From a brewery point of view, it’s Adnams, with 4, that is my biggest contributor, with Burnt Mill (who seem to make good beer) and Greene King (who, well, you know) both at 2. It’s not a county that I’ve visited too often, mostly due to its remoteness relative to where I’ve lived - I think there must be some kind of space/time continuum thing going on, because public transport from Shropshire to Suffolk is basically a day! Southwold is a lovely place (or was 15 years ago) but I don’t really know anywhere else much at all (Lowestoft was not lovely).


Suffolk’s one of my better-performing counties, due both to two large regionals being based there and several family holidays with the in-laws. My figures might be a bit higher if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve generally chosen other beers over Suffolk ones since I reached the “darkest blue” of 100 rates.

So… I’ve had 139 Suffolk brews, which makes it my second most-rated county and (unusually) gets me into the top 50, albeit at a lowly 46th position.

My top-rated Suffolk beers are dominated by the two big regionals:

I’ve always been quite a fan of Adnams - to my mind they’re one of the best (if not the best) of the old family brewers. On the other hand I’m not so fond of Greene King - with the exception of some of their stronger beers which can be quite decent.

I’ve tried brews from 17 breweries and one cidery. The “big two” dominate on numbers again - I’ve had 54 rates from Adnams and 43 from Greene King, making them the 2nd and 4th most rated breweries anywhere for me.

I’ve only rated 2 places (both farm shops). I’ve certainly been to more than that in the past (particularly the Adnams venues in Southwold), but obviously in my pre-rating days.

Beery places aside, I’ve always found Suffolk to be quite an attractive county in a low-key kind of way. Things I particularly remember (for various reasons) include:

  • The Under the Pier Show on Southwold Pier. Some local inventor has made a collection of weird and wacky arcade machines you can go on here. They’re impressive & hilarious, especially the “walking the dog” one (seriously, go here, I’ve never seen anything like it!). Southwold is a lovely town in its own right, full of Adnams’ history, and well worth a visit.
  • The museum at Dunwich, telling the story of a lost village below the sea.
  • The gruesome mummified cat at (I think) Lavenham Museum.
  • If you like ruined castles, Framlingham is a cracker, and has an unusually good audio tour.
  • The easternmost point of the UK is at Lowestoft (didn’t think much of Lowestoft itself, but I do like a geographical extreme!).

A less extreme bit of geography is the highest natural point of the county, which is at Great Wood south of Chedburgh, a little way south-west of Bury St Edmunds. Yes @Fin , the nearby radio mast and farmhouse are higher… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Suffolk is comfortably a top level county for me in 14th place with 172 beers. 10 beers I have rated 4 or over…

Beer Rate
Little Earth Project Blackcurrant & Rye Sour 4.5
Little Earth Project Organic Harvest Saison 2019 (White Wine BA) 4.4
Burnt Mill Great Bitter Falls 4.4
Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve 4.3
Burnt Mill Gardens Of Green Double IPA 4.2
Little Earth Project Organic Harvest Saison 2019 (Whisky Butt BA) 4.1
Burnt Mill Double Strata Fog 4.1
Adnams Both Barrels 4
Burnt Mill High Hopes 4
Burnt Mill Rosetta Cone West Coast IPA 4

Little Earth and Burnt Mill very different but both have some of my highest rated beers, and I still have 1 bottle of the 2012 Good King Henry at the back of the cupboard.

My top rated brewery, of the 21 I have tried, and with 5 or more beers is Burnt Mill with a respectable 3.77, with Little Earth having an average now 3.65.

Unsurprisingly I have had the most beers from Green King 42 followed by Adnams 39 (who also have one beer in my top 10).

I have only been to one place in Suffolk and it was only a day trip while on holiday in Wells-Next-The-Sea Norfolk, just to tick there county.

I think it was the closest BrewPub to where we were staying in Norfolk.

I did go on a stag night in Ipswich once, I think we went to see the stock car racing or something equally random.


Stock car itself is not so random. Nor is Ipswich (mostly). But going to either on a stag do, or especially both, well that’s another matter!

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It is becoming obvious reading this thread that I have lead a sheltered life (especially of late!). My East Anglian travels have been dominated by Norfolk and Cambridge with only an occasional and brief visit to Southwold. I have never visited Ipswich, for instance–well, at least not the English county town since other Ipswichs are available around the world. It seems a strange thing to add to one’s bucket list but Ipswich has joined mine.
Turning to the beer, my top scores are dominated by Burnt Mill, whom others have rightly praised with Nethergate Old Growler the first among other brews.

In most cases, I seem to be more generous than the average rater.
I would also like to praise Big Drop who seem to me to excel in the contentious field of low alcohol beer. Their collab with Brewdog Cambridge “The Nutty Professor” appealed to me for some reason. I have rated only 6 Greene King beers, which is something I suppose.
In Nottingham, they own both the Trip to Jerusalem and The Bell; the former is proverbially the oldest pub in England and the latter has more archaeological proof of brewing activity before 1189. I will guided by the experts when I visit Ipswich.


My third most rated county despite not having visited. Suffolk actually beats out some counties that I have actually visited! This definitely benefited from the fact that Canada was importing a decent amount of rotating bottles from breweries like Greene King, Adnams, and St. Peter’s for a while in the mid 2000s.

For some reason it tickles me that one of my top ratings for Suffolk came from “Can from Discount Supermarket, Cardiff.” (Highest rated being Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve courtesy of tdtm82


Getting into Fin territory here – but thought I really ought to say something about Suffolk.

I’ve rated 17 beers from Suffolk involving 7 different breweries. Most rated are

St Peters 4
Green Jack 3
Nethergate 3

Sy Peters position being almost entirely due to a recent Christmas present !

Highest rated beers are

Green King Suffolk Dark Strong Ale 4.1
St Peters Ruby Red Ale 3.9
Nethergate Old Growler 3.8
Adnams Sloe Storm 3.7
St Peters Gatekeeper Golden Ale 3.7
Nethergate Marys Ruby Mild 3.6

Godd to see Old Growler up there, as it was the beer that converted me to the delights of Porter.

Looking at my own records now, I’ve drunk 96 Suffolk beers, but from only 11 breweries. This ratio of 8.73 beers per brewery is my highest for any English county.
Highest numbers are

Greene King 29
Adnams 22
Nethergate 11
Mauldons 10
Sr Peters 10

Suffolk is a county that I have very rarely been to. Certainly never been to any sporting events or gigs there. Just a couple of bus-spotting trips to Ipswich in the early 1980s to catch up with their AEC Regents. Plus once crept over the border from Essex for a Sunday lunch in Long Melford.


Suffolk is my second best English county (after Greater London) with 121 ratings. My Top 3 are St. Peter’s Winter Ale, Cox & Holbrook Stowmarket Porter and
Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve.


The catch up continues. At least I’ve visited Suffolk and have some fairly vivid memories! In 2002, well before my Ratebeer day, but still well within my beer drinking days, I attended a wedding at Bury St Edmonds. It was the same year I got married but I’m not sure if I was already married or getting married later that year, but I’m going to guess the former. We stayed with my wife’s godparents in a twee little hamlet called Preston St Mary near Sudbury. In the surrounding area we visited a beautiful village with architecturally stunning medieval church, Lavenham, I think it was.
The beer connection we did make that weekend was to my first ever tour of a UK brewery (or rather a clinical version thereof) at Greene King. I didn’t really take it all in but remembered hops being important - who would’ve guessed if you tasted their ‘‘bland seasonal golden ales’’. (Eh, @jjsint !)

So, Suffolk beers are relatively easy to come by and I have rated 201, making it my 10th most rated county. My average is 3.41, which is comfortably above average for an English beer, considering the wide range of styles and with Greene King (generally speaking) propping up the bottom.

Like previous commentators, I think Adnams are one of the few good sized, traditional family owned breweries who have managed to move forward with the evolution of beer. Already mentioned are the other big hitters of Burnt Mill and Little Earth, which are also available all over the UK. Finally the other important brewery to name is Old Chimneys - most of my samples of this I owe to @cgarvieuk who has been ambassadorial in his representation of them in the many sampling sessions over the years. Anyway, below is a list of all beers that I rated at 4 or more!

Old Chimneys Good King Henry Special Reserve 4.4
Old Chimneys Good King Henry III 4.2
Artefact / Old Chimneys Barley Wine 4.1
Adnams Sloe Porter 4.0
Little Earth Project Big Smoke Stale Porter 4.0
St. Peter’s Winter Ale 4.0
Weird Sisters Dark Morris Oak Aged Old Ale 4.0
Little Earth Project Folly Road 4.0

I am intrigued that at least 2 commentators have put a Greene King Strong Ale at a very high score, so will have to seek it out! And of course, return to Suffolk again at some point! Cheers!


There are a couple of decent Greene King beers but they are indeed few and far between. So many buttery golden beers!