Lacons Brewery returns next month with new range of beers
- Credit: Archant
The legendary Lacons Brewery is reopening after being closed for 45 years and a new range of craft ales will be available again from late May.
Lacons started in Great Yarmouth in 1760, and the firm's renowned ales were an integral part of life in the region and beyond until 1965, when the national brewer Whitbread bought it.
At its height, the brewery controlled 300 pubs and employed 150 workers and about 50,000 casks of ale were shipped weekly to pubs in the City of London.
But in 1968 Whitbread closed the brewery, ending a rich chapter in the region's brewing history. The man behind the return of Lacons to brewing, managing director Mick Carver, started to research its possible return in 2009. He said: 'There is 250 years of history and heritage attached to the name of Lacons. We are very conscious that we are the custodians of a piece of brewing history, which is still very close to the people in the Anglia region. We want to modernise the brand but are aware we need to be sympathetic to people's memories.
'We would love for Lacons to regain its place on the region's beer map as a coveted and respected ale that reflects the tastes of today. In five years' time we would love to have Lacons in pubs all over the country.'
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The return of the brand has the approval of members of the Lacons' family.
Mr Carver, who is also managing director of Lowestoft-based drinks distributor JV Trading, said: 'I have been working alongside William Lacon, son of the last Lacon family member to work at the brewery. And I am also in regular contact with David Lacon, an avid Lacons collector and nephew of Christopher Kevill Davis, the last head brewer at Lacons.'
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Within the next 12 months, the new Falcon Brewery, in Main Cross Road, Yarmouth, will produce more than 28,000 pints of beer weekly using a 20-barrel brewing plant. However, production will initially start at 100 casks per week.
And to celebrate the brewery's return, the iconic Lacons falcon has been revived and refreshed. The falcon has been the symbol of Lacons for hundreds of years and there are many pubs across East Anglia that still have its image embedded in their brickwork, including the Champion at the top of St Stephen's in Norwich. The Champion was once advertised as the nearest Lacons pub to the bus station.
The new brewery is being launched on May 21, with a ceremony including an original Lacons dray. Beer writer and editor of the Good Beer Guide, Roger Protz, has been asked to be the guest speaker at the event. Mr Protz said: 'The return of Lacons is exciting news. It means improved choice for beer drinkers in Norfolk and brings back a famous name in brewing.
'In my travels round East Anglia, I have seen the Lacons falcon etched in the tiles of many pubs, but I never had the chance to try the beer. Now Lacons beer is coming back and I look forward to the falcon flying again.'
Lacons is crafting three permanent ales, with names and details being announced next week.
These are being created by Lacons head brewer, Wil Wood, using original yeast strains which have been kept safe at the Norwich-based National Collection of Yeast Cultures for nearly half a century.
The ales will eventually be on offer at the new brewery that will house a brewery tap for tasting, plus a visitor centre housing a collection of Lacons' artefacts celebrating its long history. The new Lacons' emblem depicts the falcon with its wings outspread and ready to land, which symbolises the return of Lacons after a 45-year hiatus.
Mr Carver employed a creative agency to rework the iconic emblem and logo to capture how it would have evolved over the past 45 years if the brewery had not closed.
Lacons ales will be available to the public at the City of Ale launch party at St Gregory's in Norwich on May 23, and at the Great Yarmouth Beer and Cider Festival, which runs from May 23 to May 26, at St George's Theatre.
Lacons is sponsoring the third City of Ale, which runs until June 2.
Mr Carver said: 'Without a doubt Norwich is the City of Ale, and the festival embraces the city's passion for great beer, thus we are very proud that City of Ale selected us as sponsors for the launch night. This allows us to celebrate not only the festival, but also Lacons ales.'
Dawn Leeder, co-chairman of Norwich City of Ale, said: 'We're delighted that Lacons is sponsoring the launch party. Lacons was a much-loved local brand and its resurgence is bound to generate enormous interest.' The celebrations begin with the City of Ale bus parading through the city led by Morris Dancers, to St Gregory's, where speeches will be followed by an evening of entertainment.
Tickets costing £5 will include two pints, one of which will be a Lacons ale. These will soon be available via the UEA ticket office. Lacons ales will also be available at pubs in Norwich during the festival.
The Evening News has been urging people to return to pubs and support local brewers in our Love your Local campaign. To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal