It was way back in 1981 that Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales produced the first commercial brew of Wherry Bitter at the original brewery in Drayton, near Norwich. Just 15 years later in 1996 Wherry Bitter was awarded the ultimate prize in the brewing world - it became CAMRA Supreme Champion Beer of Britain.
Within that relatively short time Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales became a byword for consistency and excellence amongst brewers of cask conditioned ale and their customers. We have grown from tiny beginnings on the industrial estate at Drayton to become one of the most respected of the new wave of craft brewers who started up in the early 1980s.
It was a time when beer drinkers finally began to rebel against the relentless blandness of the larger brewers’ beers and started to seek out beer that had been lovingly crafted on a small scale using the finest ingredients.
The brewery was established by Ray Ashworth and Dr David Crease, both enthusiastic members of the Norwich Homebrewers’ Society, and named after Parson Woodforde - a noted eighteenth century Norfolk clergyman whose diaries reveal his passion for good food and good ale, which he often brewed himself.
Demand for our beers continued to grow through the years, attracting a steady flow of awards – 1990 Camra’s ‘New Breweries Champion Beer of Britain’ for Wherry Bitter, 1992/3 ‘Champion Beer of Britain’ for Norfolk Nog, 1993/4 ‘Champion Mild Ale of Britain’ for Mardler’s Mild and many more continuing right up to the present day. Even as recently as September 2012 we were delighted to be the recipients of the Eastern Daily Press Food & Drink Awards ‘Pride of Norfolk’ award for Food & Drink excellence.
The huge increase in popularity of our beers brought its demands for a brewery site which could cope with growth and offer the absolute consistency needed to ensure the very best ales reached our customers. A move to our existing site in Woodbastwick, with its own bore hole and room to expand brought about an increase in scale. A change of ownership with the retirement of Ray Ashworth, enabled the Woodforde’s name to continue unabated in its new location.
We continue to brew a range of balanced beers using only the finest ingredients just as the original owners set out to do. Please do come and see us and visit our shop and stock up on our beers as well as a selection of delicious food and drink products, sourced locally in Norfolk. Our Fur & Feather Inn, situated next to the Brewery, offers delicious food coupled with our award winning beers. Brewery Tours can be booked in advance via the Shop.