The Old Cannon Brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, England.

The Old Cannon Brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, England. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

BURY ST. EDMUNDS — Sometimes it makes sense to drift off the beaten path

That’s certainly the case for the Old Cannon Brewery, a unique Suffolk watering hole that’s just far enough off the main pub-and-club circuit to attract a steady word-of-mouth crowd looking for something other than the traditional pint of Stella and lobby of cigarette smoke.

Americans, who tend to make up a minority of the patrons, normally come equipped with a knowledge of the home brews that prompts a similar request: a pint of the Gunner’s Daughter.

Brewed on site by the owner, the Gunner’s Daughter has a reputation that precedes it as a brew with 5.2 percent alcohol. Basically, two pints of this stuff and you’re well on your way to a night of diminished inhibitions and rambling stories.

I had the Blonde Bombshell, another home-brew with 4.2 percent alcohol that went down smoothly and left none of the aftertaste of many home-brews. The final home-brew is the Best Bitter, which packs a more familiar 3.8 percent wallop.

The Brewery is managed by Carole Eyton-Jones and her husband, Richard, who have run the pub since 1999. It’s a simple formula. He brews the beer and she manages the menu, which includes some unique specialties that beg for a sampling.

“We have a joke that we are the second biggest brewery in Bury,” Carole Eyton-Jones said, referring to the Greene King brewery on the other end of town, which exports beer worldwide.

The most popular menu item is the Gunner’s Daughter Sausage, which is soaked in the home-brew, and served with onion gravy and goes for 11.45 pounds. A quick glance at the menu showed a few other possible entrées worth tasting.

The poached smoked haddock served on a bed of tomatoes with welsh rarebit is priced at 12.45 pounds while the home-cured gravadlax (salmon) and a honey, wholegrain mustard and dill dressing appetizer will set you back a mere 5.45 pounds.

All told, the Old Cannon is well worth a trip into a hidden corner of Bury.

“We’re not obvious at all, and that’s the way we like it,” Carole Eyton-Jones said.

Directions are key as the Old Cannon, as mentioned, is a few minutes walk from Bury’s bustling central district. From the Bury train station take a right up to Station Hill. At the roundabout take the second left onto Ipswich Street and follow it onto St. John’s Street and turn left immediately after St. John’s Church, then turn right onto Orchard Street. Take the next left and the Old Cannon is at the bottom of the hill.

Old Cannon Brewery

Location: 86 Cannon St.

Ambience: Hard wood and steel kettles. Chic, but subtle.

Food and drink: Homemade and home-brewed. What more can you ask?

Service: A step above the British norm.

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