Bullard’s is back! Popular Norwich beer brand is revived - with new brews on sale in pubs today
PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 April 2015
Archant Norfolk 2015
A Norwich beer brand that was a much-loved household name for more than a century has been brought back to life after a 30-year absence.
Bullard & Sons was founded in 1837, with its Anchor Brewery in Coslany Street producing popular beers including Bullard’s Mild, and its towering chimney a city landmark.
Its beers have not been brewed since 1985, but a man whose first job was to promote Bullard’s beers has teamed up with Norwich’s Redwell Brewery to revive the historic brand.
Russell Evans worked for Bullard’s after graduating from university in the early 1980s, and said he had always had a fondness for it.
He leapt at the opportunity to acquire rights for the brands when he saw they were available earlier this year, and things have moved rapidly since then.
The first two Bullard’s cask beers, created to new recipes by Redwell head brewer Dave Jones, are available to buy in pubs across the Fine City from today.
And sipping a pint, Mr Evans smiled: “It feels fantastic.”
The two new beers, which are both vegan-friendly, are a 4.2% East Coast Pale Ale called Bullard’s #1 and a 6% IPA called Bullard’s #2.
Patrick Fisher, co-owner of Redwell Brewery, said they had never planned to brew cask beers, but the opportunity to revive a city institution was too good to resist.
Where you can buy Bullard’s beer:
The X Bells
The Mash Tun & Gin Palace
The Buck Inn
Maddermarket Theatre Bar
Ribs of Beef
Coach & Horses (Bethel Street)
Red Lion (Cromer)
Arcade Street Tavern (Ipswich)
The first run of 5,500 pints sold out on the strength of the reputation of Bullard’s and Redwell, and the new recipes have proved a hit already.
“We’ve taken a craft beer approach and thrown all our expertise and hops into these products,” said Mr Fisher. “It was important to us that we didn’t use old recipes.
“We wanted to do it justice by creating new, modern recipes that cask beer drinkers would be excited about and would buy.”
The Bullard’s Anchor Brewery in Coslany Street ceased brewing in 1966, with production moving to King Street - less than half a mile from the Redwell Brewery in Bracondale.
“We’re incredibly passionate about Norwich,” said Mr Fisher. “We’re hoping to drive this as a long-term rebirth of Bullard’s, close to its original home.
“I’m just thrilled that Bullard’s is back being brewed in Norwich and we really want to put Norwich back on the map.”
He hoped to spark conversations between people who remember drinking Bullard’s beers, or worked for the company, and pledged to listen closely to feedback as they look to develop more Bullard’s beers.
For more about Bullard’s, see facebook.com/bullardsbeers, twitter @bullardsbeers or log onto www.bullardsbeers.co.uk
What do you think of the new brews? Tweet using #bullardsisback
The first two Bullard’s beers to be brewed by Redwell are today on tap in pubs across Norwich for your enjoyment.
No.1 East Coast Pale is a bright golden colour with the zingy aroma of New World hops.
The flavour is a citrusy punch with a lasting bitterness.
Explaining how the 4.2% beer came about, head brewer Dave Jones said: “The idea for this was a very modern cask beer.
“We’ve taken the elements we like and put that back into traditional brewing.”
He said it was slightly malty and had “fantastic, luscious hop flavours” that were very aromatic, and it worked well as a session beer.
No.2 India Pale Ale, which at 6% is the stronger of the two, pours copper with a frothy white head.
The aroma is bitter orange with burnt brown sugar.
Its flavour brings caramel sweetness and some pithiness on the end.
Mr Jones said this almost had the feel of a strong English ale, it was unusual to produce a cask beer of this strength - but was “extremely drinkable”.
Bullard & Sons established the Anchor Brewery in Norwich in 1837.
It was founded by Richard Bullard, who was born in the parish of St John Maddermarket, in partnership with manufacturer James Watts - who left the business a decade later.
There were more 17 breweries in the city at the time, according to White’s Directory of 1854, but Mr Bullard was able to handle the competition and supply beer to pubs across Norwich.
He had 10 children including son Harry, who was born at the Anchor Brewery in Coslany Street.
Harry Bullard and two of his brothers took over the running of the brewery when Mr Bullard senior died in 1864, aged 56.
In addition to being a partner in the family business, Harry built a political career and held the office of mayor in 1878 - the year of the great flood.
Water poured through the windows and doors of the Anchor Brewery for hours, inundating the offices, stores and yards, and hundreds of people across the city were left homeless.
Mr Bullard was praised for his calming influence as mayor, helping organise services to smooth the recovery effort.
The brewery expanded over the years in line with demand, occupying seven acres by the turn of the 19th century.
Water for the beer was drawn from a well dug deep into chalk beneath the brewery.
Its product range was extensive - including Light Pale Ale, East India Pale Ale, Imperial Ale and London Stout.
They also produced wine and spirits, and imported drinks.
Eventually Bullard’s became one of the “big four” Norwich breweries - which have all since closed.
They were Steward & Patteson, Bullard’s, Morgans and Youngs, Crawshay & Youngs.
During the Second World War the maltings in St Swithin’s Terrace were bombed, but they were patched up and the brewery continued to trade.
By the 1960s, Bullard’s owned more than 1,000 pubs.
But ultimately the firm struggled to compete with the big national brewers, and the business was sold - with brewing at the Anchor Brewery ceasing in 1966.
Instead, production was relocated to the Watney Mann brewery in King Street.
The landmark Bullard’s chimney at the Anchor Brewery was demolished in 1982, and the buildings are now flats.
Bullard’s continued to be brewed until 1985.