Thomas Cobbold opened his first brewery in Harwich in 1723. The water there was rather salty, which didn’t make for a good ale. So he shipped it in from Ipswich – just up ther river. In 1746 he left Harwich and built a brewery in Ipswich.
In 1894 he (well, his descendants) rebuilt the brewery to meet increased demands – there were over 300 public houses in Ipswich at the time.
After a few name changes/mergers, it closed in 1989, only to re-open in 1990 after a successful management buyout. The brewery started brewing again, and in 1996 celebrated it’s 250th anniversary – quite an acheivement! After the buyout, it was also opened up as a working museum to try and improve it’s profitability. In 2002 it finally closed (again) and the wonderful machinery inside has succumbed to pigeon droppings. There are rumours of re-opening it though…
This neo-Gothic building looks amazing. It was built by Cobbold’s own people rather than local builders – he trusted them more.
This was the first area we saw – our trip was, seemingly, the brewing process in reverse.
In the basement of the brewery lurks a massive steam engine.
“The horizontal steam engine that was used to pump water from the adjacent well up to the top of the building and also to work all the brewery’s machinery was built by the Ipswich firm of E.R.& F. Turner, well known as milling engineers.“
This will be where they filled barrels up with ale. I’m not quite sure what the nautical-style wheels were for.
Offices & Laboratory
The Head Brewer’s office, and some laboratories used for testing the produce.
This room was really unusual – you can probably see why in the pics below – it was blue! There were around nine fermentation vats in here. The blue tint is there because it is believed direct sunlight can effect the brewing process – this is also why ale can usually be found in brown or green bottles.
I don’t even know what this is, but they’re called “coppers” and are instrumental in the brewing process. I think hops are put into them for some reason.
The short fat one on stilts is “an original boiling copper from the Harwich brewery of 1723, used as a sugar dissolving vessel at the Cliff Brewery“.
I’m beginning to love control rooms – everywhere I go they seem different.
The mash tun, in which the starch and the ground malt or grist was broken down into sugars.
This room was like a mini museum in itself. All about hops; how they’re grown; what they do; what viruses they get; what they look like etc. Quite interesting stuff.
The malt mill at the Cliff Brewery in which the carefully selected malts were ground for the next day’s brew.
Splendid views of Ipswich docks were to be had from up here. There was also a rather nice windvane dating back to when the building was built – 1894.
Being an old brewery, there must’ve been some sort of old beer lying around – right? Right!
These bits don’t quite fit in anywhere…