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Bury St Edmunds Vespers bar opens in expansion for Beautiful Beers



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A family-run Belgian beer bar has opened in Bury St Edmunds – fulfilling a long-held expansion ambition of the owner of a popular beer shop.

René van den Oort, owner of Beautiful Beers in the town's St John's Street, has launched Vespers with his son Max after transforming the former RSPCA charity shop in St Andrew's Street South.

It boasts about 50 different bottled beers as well as 15 draught offerings, 10 of which are Belgian with the rest continental, local and from the US.

René van den Oort and his son Max (pictured) have launched Vespers in St Andrew's Street South, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Paul Derrick
René van den Oort and his son Max (pictured) have launched Vespers in St Andrew's Street South, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Paul Derrick

The bar also specialises in beers from the 12 Trappist breweries at monasteries including in Belgium, Holland, England and Austria.

The name Vespers, a service of early evening prayer, is inspired by the Trappist connection and Bury St Edmunds' history as an Abbey town.

René said: "We've always looked at expanding and after Covid the opportunity arose to do something like this.

The former RSPCA charity shop has been transformed. Picture: Paul Derrick
The former RSPCA charity shop has been transformed. Picture: Paul Derrick

"Beautiful Beers has been going since 2011 so rather than starting another shop in another town we thought it would be better to actually sell the beers where people can try them.

"We had a long hard look at different buildings available."

The building is an 18th century stable house and, following a revamp which leans into its historical roots, the venue is set across two floors with the bar downstairs and seating upstairs.

"We've transformed it into a nice relaxed setting with nice background music and a Belgian feel," said René.

Vespers has 15 draught offerings, 10 of which are Belgian. Picture: Paul Derrick
Vespers has 15 draught offerings, 10 of which are Belgian. Picture: Paul Derrick

With two full time and three to four part time staff, the bar operates a table service and customers are allowed to order food from local delivery services.

Following a soft launch yesterday, they plan to serve sliced meat and cheese platters in the near future.

With the Trappist and Belgian beers, René said the bar offers something different in the town with fewer venues offering such a speciality due to Brexit red tape creating import difficulties.

"You have to plan almost two months in advance," he said. "In the old days it used to take about four to five days to get the beers and now it takes three to four weeks.

"People were put off by the sheer volume of paperwork that needed doing."

Already they have received praise for the venture.

"We've had very good feedback," he said.

"Yesterday there was a real buzz in the place with lots of people chatting, enjoying the bar and talking about the beers and the environment and how it reminded them of Belgian bars."