Founded 1799, Greene King is by far the county's largest brewery.
In recent years, they have taken over several other breweries such as Morland (including Ruddles), Rayments, Hardy & Hanson (closed 2006) and Ridley's (closed 2005). They also acquired Belhaven (in 2005) giving them a route into the Scottish market. Today a significant amount of the company's business and advertising is concentrated on major brands such as "Old Speckled Hen" and "Ruddles County".
The brewery has also acquired many pubs in recent years mostly outside East Anglia. Today the have a significant presence in London, Southern England, East Midlands, Central England and Southern Scotland. They also own many pubs further westwards. A total of over 2100 pubs are currently owned by the company with many trading under alternate brand names such as "Hungry Horse" and "Old English Inns". A large presence in the Free trade (over 3000 outlets) also helps to ensure a massive market for their beers although their presence in Suffolk is diminishing.
Reported by the first edition of the Good Beer Guide (published in 1974) as offering 'First rate beers too often spoilt by pressurisation.' Since then all of their outlets have removed the "top pressure" dispense taps and today most offer hand pumped real ale.
See separate website for more details of historic brewery
Local licensing authority for Bury St Edmunds is St Edmundsbury