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Norfolk brewery Buffy's closes as beer boom leaves market saturated

PUBLISHED: 07:58 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 07:58 14 June 2019

Prior to closing Buffy's had produced seven regular beers that had been a familiar sight at Norfolk pubs. Picture: Bill Smith

Prior to closing Buffy's had produced seven regular beers that had been a familiar sight at Norfolk pubs. Picture: Bill Smith

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An award-winning Norfolk brewery has closed blaming a boom in the number of microbreweries that has left the market saturated.

Roger Abrahams set up Buffy's Brewery at Tivetshall after leaving his job at Norwich Union. He is pictured at the height of its success in 2008. Picture: Bill SmithRoger Abrahams set up Buffy's Brewery at Tivetshall after leaving his job at Norwich Union. He is pictured at the height of its success in 2008. Picture: Bill Smith

Buffy's Brewery, founded by Roger Abrahams and Julie Savory and based at Tivetshall St Mary, had been producing ales in South Norfolk for 25 years but has now brewed its final barrels.

Mr Abrahams, 67, said when Buffy's produced its first beer in 1993 they had been trailblazers as one of the first small micro-brewers in Norfolk. A recent boom has seen the number rise to more than 40 making it difficult to remain competitive.

"From our point of view it was just getting too difficult because there are just so many small brewers all playing the game. There are new ones opening all the time, hobby brewers, who sell the beer for very little," he said.

Buffy's Brewery had been based at the 15th century Mardle Hall at Tivetshall St Mary since 1993. Picture: Bill SmithBuffy's Brewery had been based at the 15th century Mardle Hall at Tivetshall St Mary since 1993. Picture: Bill Smith

"The microbrewing sector everywhere has exploded but it is close to saturation point. The strongest will survive but it has got very aggressive between the brewers. Also the pubs that are left tend to want something different every time, and the big chains have everything else tied up.

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"We got to the point where we couldn't remain competitive and earn a living. Also my brewer was quite ill and it had been just the two of us doing it finally. I could not do the brewing myself and still step out to try increase profitability, which is what we would have needed."

Julie Savory who co-founded Buffy's brewery in Tivetshall. Picture: Sonya DuncanJulie Savory who co-founded Buffy's brewery in Tivetshall. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Buffy's at one time employed several people including a dedicated brewer, sales rep and drayman. It brewed seven regular ales using Norfolk hops grown on The Branthill Estate at Wells-next-the-Sea, including bestsellers Norfolk Terrier and Norwegian Blue.

It also produced special beers linked to local history including the Burston Strike Ale and the R34 Airship Ale and won numerous awards, including a bronze medal earlier this year in the Campaign for Real Ale's Champion Beers of East Anglia for its 'Festival 9X' creation.

Their beers could be found in several pubs across Norfolk as well as at their own pub, The Cherry Tree at Wicklewood, near Wymondham, which they will continue to run.

The Cherry Tree pub at Wicklewood, near Wymondham, that Buffy's founders Roger Abrahams and Julie Savory  will continue to run. Picture: Denise BradleyThe Cherry Tree pub at Wicklewood, near Wymondham, that Buffy's founders Roger Abrahams and Julie Savory will continue to run. Picture: Denise Bradley

Mr Abrahams, who worked at Norwich Union before realising a long held a dream of brewing commercially, said: "We had been just jogging along keeping our pubs satisfied but so many that we have dealt with over the years, probably two thirds of them, have gone. They just don't exist any more.

"I don't have any regrets. You can talk to any of my friends who are still running breweries and they are deeply stressed all the time."

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