Shepherd Neame’s Visitor Centre has the best welcome in the South East, according to national tourism organisation VisitEngland.
The Faversham-based Visitor Centre has won the prestigious VisitEngland South East Welcome award in recognition of ‘high standards’ achieved, which the VisitEngland assessor felt ‘were truly deserving of recognition’.
The Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre is set in a beautifully-restored medieval hall house on the historic brewery site. From there, visitors are taken on an 80 minute guided tour where they learn the ancient art of brewing and the history of Britain’s oldest brewer.
The tour also includes a visit to the Old Brewery Store, housed in Shepherd Neame’s old wines and spirits store, where several historic vehicles are displayed alongside a recreated cooper’s workshop, vintage pub signs and a collection of hop picking memorabilia.
The tour ends back at the Visitor Centre itself with a tutored tasting of a range of Shepherd Neame beer, from cask ales and specialty lagers through to craft beer, before visitors have the chance to visit the Brewery Shop and pick up a souvenir, gift or some of their favourite beer.
VisitEngland’s Simon Numphud, Managing Director of their Assessment Services operation, said: “The accolade is testament to the high standards achieved, which the assessor felt were truly deserving of recognition.”
In recent months a number of improvements have been made to the Visitor Centre tour route. Visitors can now see the brewery’s restored Victorian malt kiln, and also see two rare surviving steam engines that date from 1910 and 1860 respectively.
New tasting boards and glasses have also been introduced as part of the tour enhancement, alongside a series of information boards which were praised by VisitEngland.
Giles Hilton, Shepherd Neame’s Head of Customer Relations, said: “We were delighted to receive a 100% rating from the assessor for the greeting visitors receive on arrival. We pride ourselves on offering visitors a fantastic experience, and have made significant investment in recent months to improve the content of the tour. This accolade is well-deserved recognition for our team’s hard work and dedication.”