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Male Pulling a pint from Barsham BreweryIt’s super simple. It’s powerfully positioned. And it’s notably Norfolk, England. It goes:-

We grow. We harvest. We brew.

That’s the introduction to Barsham Brewery on its website.

While the brewery wasn’t established until 2012, and didn’t become Barsham Brewery until 2018, it is so well rooted in its surroundings, that it might as well have been established back in the 19th century. It is housed in a renovated dairy, one of the estate buildings for 2,500 acres of working farmland owned and managed by the same family for many generations.

The tiny English village of Barsham, with its population of just 230 people, lies north of Fakenham, south of Wells-next-the-Sea, in the north of Norfolk. The light, chalky soils of the surrounding countryside are ideal for growing barley. Add to that the sunny climes and gentle sea breezes, and you have the perfect conditions for Maris Otter.

Tracing the Ingredients

Small wonder then that the family has for decades been growing this champion variety. And no great surprise that any brewery situated in the heart of this land would decide that Maris Otter would be the key ingredient in its range of beers.

We have full traceability, there can be few breweries able to identify the exact fields in which the barley for their beer is grown. We’re able to do that. The fields we use for Maris Otter are rotated with other crops, as is good farming practice. This year it’s in a field named ‘Golden Close’, just a stone’s throw away from the brewery. The West Barsham Estate is part of that notable group of farms that act as custodians of the variety.

Tom Trivedi, Barsham’s managing director

He says that, adding to the traceable ingredients, the brewery has its own borehole, from which it extracts the water for brewing.

Of course, that leaves the question about malting. Where could the barley grown on an estate in the heart of Norfolk’s prime barley-growing region possibly be malted…? It would have to be somewhere nearby. Somewhere using traditional floor malting methods. Somewhere that produces great malt.

Hmmm… There’s a puzzle.

Read on, and all may be revealed.

Names of beers written on blackboards

Does Provenance Really Matter?

And that’s another question. If a brewer can produce a great-tasting, handsome-looking, luscious-smelling beer, does it really matter where he, she, they brewed it? Do people really care about the ingredients and where they come from?

Hmmm… That’s something brewers have been debating for decades, if not centuries.

Well, Tom and those at Barsham Brewery are definitely in the ‘yes’ camp.

A male reaching for a glass of Norfolk Topper“The brewery is in Norfolk and Norfolk is in the beer. The village and the county are central to our positioning and marketing.  That’s pretty obvious in that the brewery is named after Barsham, the village in which it’s located.  And ‘Norfolk born and brewed’ proudly adorns our pump clips.

“One of our beers, a citrus ale, is called ‘Norfolk Topper’ – counter-intuitively named after a Suffolk Punch. He was a horse of that famous breed, who worked on the farm here until the 1980s: he was much loved, and his memory lives on.

“Oaks”, an elegant amber bitter, references the place where we store our Maris Otter. The barn that acts as temporary home to this special grain is surrounded by magnificent oak trees.

“Just coming back to the question as to whether provenance matters in beers, well, again, yes. Maris Otter is the best malting barley for craft brewers. And its natural home is Norfolk. So, of course provenance matters.

“Our own grown Maris Otter is the base malt for all our beers…”

Aha, malt. That brings us neatly back to malting.


You would be forgiven for thinking we have a vested interest in probing Barsham Brewery about the processing of its barley. That’s because we have.

We malt the barley from the West Barsham Estate. Here are the three reasons Tom gives for choosing Crisp.

1. Location

Crisp is just 5 miles away. Raw grain is extremely heavy, so it’s crucial to keep haulage to a minimum. Malt is lighter than raw grain because of the lower moisture content, so for any brewery looking to minimise carbon footprint, our advice would be to choose a maltster with local supplies of top notch barley.

2. Quality

Crisp is known among craft brewers for the quality and consistency of its malt. As one of the last maltsters in the UK to have floor malting facilities, we can embrace tradition and heritage with our Maris Otter, at the same time as producing beers that appeal to today’s palates. With Crisp, we’re safe in the knowledge that our barley is treated with respect and care, that it is processed with skill and expertise, and that the malt we get back is as good as it gets anywhere in the world.

3. Service

Crisp is incredibly accommodating: everyone we deal with is helpful and they are all extremely knowledgeable, so if ever we need advice, we can call on them.

Tom says that everyone at the brewery has had a go on Crisp’s floors, using the traditional hand tools and following the process through.

“We’ve taken loads of customers to Gt Ryburgh too, so they can see malting in action. It’s a crucial part of the whole process, but is often overlooked when the grain-to-glass story is told.

We partnered up with Crisp for their Open Day, which gave us the chance to showcase our beers – and get feedback from brewers. It was all incredibly positive – and very enjoyable.

Barsham Brewery serving beers at Crisp Open Day

Other Ingredients

Barsham uses other malts from Crisp for variety of colour, texture and flavour in the beers. It also uses hops (which are, of course, much lighter and easier to transport) from some of the best hop-growing regions of the world.

Norfolk Welcomes

Barsham Brewery serving beers from a stone buildingBarsham is part of a rural idyll of pretty villages, scenic landscapes, plenteous wildlife – and not too far from the beautiful coastline. As Tom says,

We invite trade customers to the brewery as well as opening it to members of the public – and always look forward to sharing the grain to glass story.  Witnessing with their own eyes the Maris Otter crops in the fields, then tasting the beer made from barley grown in that same field the previous year, etches into people’s minds the importance of traceable, quality raw materials – and the bounty of Norfolk.

People come from great distance to visit the brewery, and the team has worked hard to make Barsham into the centre of a community.  Any events are team efforts, working with local people and businesses to create memorable occasions.

Tom says it soon became clear how much people loved visiting the region and the estate – and that it could be perfect for holidaymakers looking to get away from it all. That’s why some of the estate buildings have been converted into superb holiday lets. He adds that they are very stylishly refurbished and are big enough to accommodate sizeable groups.

Visitors can enjoy the grounds; explore the surrounding countryside; head to the coast; visit the brewery; taste the beers; and relax with their favourite drink in the peace and quiet. It’s a proper Norfolk Welcome.

Man pulling a pintMatter of Taste

Tom’s favorite Barsham beer is Stackyard Hazy IPA. “It’s beautifully balanced – that’s something we’re starting to see more of in IPAs from the US: not too bitter and not too floral. With ours, the touch of sweetness from the malt hides its strength. Delicious.”

That’s from a lover of strong Belgian beers.


Back to Norfolk

All in all, Barsham Brewery is inextricably linked with its location. The village. The county. The land. The water. The barley. The Maltings. The people.

We grow. We harvest. Crisp malts. We brew. And we are intensely proud of what we do, and how rooted in Norfolk we are. Come and have a look sometime and judge for yourself. You’d be more than welcome. You’d be Norfolk welcome.

Tom Trivedi, Barsham’s managing director


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