A few trips out before my current hiatus from pubs, all depressingly local and none giving me a tick to improve my GBG completion.

91%. Right there.

Bury St Edmunds is decent for walks and has a great little record shop where I hoped to buy the new Soccer Mommy album. Why buy vinyl in Cambridge when you can go to Suffolk to do it ?


BSE, to give it its full name, used to resemble a retirement village surrounded by a brewery, abbey and sugar beet factory.

Busy street from brewery to brasseries

A decade ago it gained a cinema, shopping complex and Giggling Squid, and was promptly swamped by young professionals who realised it took less time to commute from Bury to Cambridge than from Cambridge to Cambridge.

Bijou cottages
Snowdrops imported from Stowmarket

There’s a NEW Travelodge and Starbucks at the entrance to town, joining a Premier Inn by the brewery, so American tourists no longer have to cough up a ton to stay in the ivy covered Angel which was the only option 30 years ago.

Americans love the smell of sugar beet and barley, wobbly, brightly coloured buildings,

Future micro
Future Sam Smiths

and the strange characters carved into 17th century walls, like this depiction of Simon and Tom Irvin debating cordial prices in the Nutshell.

Calm down lads

There’s not many Americans about, or gentlefolk from over the border; perhaps they’re all in Bury’s most famous pub ?

Your actual Spoons

Vinyl Hunter hadn’t got my Soccer Mommy, seven words I never thought I’d write, but the young guy and a bloke from Cambridge had an entertaining chat about local beer prices.

Apparently you can pay nearly a fiver a pint in Bury, though the Dove still charges £2.50 for Wherry and I’d literally just paid £3 in what I think youngsters call a Tap House.

Whappen to the Mild

Yes, I’d succumbed to the lure of the Greene King Tap, which has finally made the Guide after my groundbreaking visit in 2017.

Back then it was all “ladies who lunch with laptops“; now it was “Hi-Vis Harry“.

One of the brewery lads was pulling his own pint when I arrived; I like that. And I enjoyed a soundtrack of “Lay Lady Lay“, “So Long Marianne” and Kangaroo Air Force Ventilator.

I had an IPA; it MUST be good here.

Not even our No. 1 beer now

It was terrific in 2017, now it was cool and inviting but a bit sweet, even compared to the best Doom Bar. Do you even care ? No.

Not a great place to drink. Not when you’ve got the Nutshell and the Rose & Crown and probably others.

But they’re the Tap, so they’ve at least got the tat.


On the way out of town via the park a muntjac bounded towards me, chased unsuccessfully by a chubby dog. I cheered the muntjac, who I shall call Simon, to safety.

But even though I’ll be spending more time at home, I shan’t be adopting Simon.



  1. Glad we’ve got a last few pub visit write ups to enjoy before the corona-imposed break. As an American I will agree I love the wobbly buildings, the more slanted to one side the better, but I don’t like them brightly colored– give me those endless shades of brown and beige.

    I’ve been conditioned by now that the letters “IPA” are going to signify a super-hoppy/floral American West Coast sort of thing. Is that also the case in England? I could swear I had IPAs many years ago that weren’t anything like as hoppy as they are now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Greene King IPA is the exception to the super hoppy rule, as Roger Protz would eloquently tell you.

      “Nowhere near strong enough for an IPA” I hear.

      When I drank it in my early 20s in Cambridge and knew nothing about beer I was convinced it was called “Ipper” which it was everyone called it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. See this old blogpost: IPA as it used to be. And modern super-hoppy IPAs are nothing like their 19th century namesakes either.

      It’s a tradition in East Anglia to paint timbered buildings in bright colours – and often to plaster over the timberwork too.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think Fullers Bengal Lancer and Marstons Old Empire might be the closest to ‘proper’ IPAs we’re likely to find.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I expect that I’ll miss your football references for a bit, Martin, the Liverpool fans fondly remembering the great Mr. Brynner, who hated perfume – “Yul never wore cologne” – and all the rest.


    1. I haven’t got the heart to continue my anti-Liverpool rant on this blog, though I did laugh when a City fan suggested we drive the Premiership trophy over to Anfield in our team coach.


    2. As you know, I’m not an aficionado of the game, but I did smile to read some wag say that, irrespective of whether one followed football or not, Jürgen Klopp is about the only person whom we ever see on TV, who actually makes sense these days.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I liked the smell of the old sugar beet factory, its like that smell of brewing or maltings, it marked the change in seasons,connected you with your surroundings,never felt quite the same since they de-whiffed it.

    Im not sure about the Tap, it always feels like a coffee shop that happens to sell beer because GK realised actually they hadnt got a space to push their beer to visitors and probably thought well every pub in Bury sells our beer anyway they didnt need one…not so anymore, and the pub you ended up in the brewery tour was the employee pub that maybe in decades past saw alot more use, but tended to have to be opened up specially everytime on the tour, and wasnt open to the public,so the beer wasnt much good in there either as a result.

    so they turned the shop/part of the tour museum into a coffee shop that sells beer. and consequently how much beer do they get through in the tap ?, you dont visit it as a drinking destination as such, its hours match shop opening times and,unless you visit the shop or go for the tour, there are better pubs in Bury selling GK beer, so its probably prone to staying on a bit too long and yeah I thought the beer was borderline over chilled last time I went there and didnt much like it


    1. Stono,
      Any mention of sugar beat reminds me of

      That’s 35 years old now. I booked the Kipper Family as the entertainment for a national conference I chaired in Norfolk in 1992 and they went down very well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As per usual, Scott, the Scots have all the best ideas (ok, ok, Duncan’s shorts are inadvisable).

      A CAMRA guide to beer/plant matching will make an ideal present for my birthday if I make it.


  4. A couple of years ago a bloke in a ‘Spoons told me that Abbott Ale was made as a concentrate and diluted at the point of sale. “Have you seen the size of the brewery?” he asked, “it’s tiny; there’s no way they could brew enough for all the pubs in the country that sell it. My mate in Bury St Edmunds told me.” I couldn’t be bothered to argue.

    Liked by 1 person

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