Stourbridge & Halesowen

Campaign for Real Ale

Pub News

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Real Ale & Pub Census July 2022

Members of Stourbridge & Halesowen Branch held their Real Ale & Pub Census over a 24-hour period on 22/23 July.

According to CAMRA’s WhatPub website, the Branch had 85 pubs listed as serving real ale and 16 members of the Branch visited 83 of these on the day. The Branch had held its first Census in 2017 but, with lock-down, this was our first since 2019, and so we expected to see several changes.

The weather forecast was favourable, and the Census got underway on the Friday evening.
When the results were analysed, it was apparent that both the number of pubs serving cask ale and also the number of different ales available, had reduced.

Since 2019 we have had 8 pubs close their doors. Some of these are temporary closures but unfortunately, many are gone for good. These include BarBridge in Stourbridge and Wheelie Thirsty in Lye. In addition, we found that 11 of our pubs were not serving real ale on the day.
On the plus side, 3 pubs have reopened after temporary closures, the Seven Stars in Oldswinford, the Birch Tree in Amblecote and the Old Cat in Wordsley.

4 new pubs opened their doors for the first time; the Dog House micro, the Old Wharf and Hop Vault in Stourbridge and the Kingsbridge in Wollaston.

Members recorded all the cask ales on sale during the Census and 137 different beers were being served, though this compares with 150 different ales on sale in 2019. Whilst this reduction is concerning, it is understandable, given the difficulties that the licensed trade has faced since Covid.

The total of 137 is however a measure of the success of CAMRA, that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021. Back when it was founded in 1971 drinkers in our area would have been lucky to sample much more than a dozen different beers at any one time.

The cheapest ale was found to be just £1.49 for a pint of Ruddles Best but the average price of a pint in our pubs is now £3.55, which is an increase from £3.08 in the three years since our last Census. The most popular cask ale was Wye Valley’s HPA, which was on sale at 19 pubs. This was followed by their Butty Bach at 15 and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord being served at 11 establishments.

In another sign of changing tastes and times, Banks’s Mild, once a common beer on the bars of many of our pubs, was only being served by two of them on the day of the Census. It is still a permanent beer on at the Whitley in Halesowen and the Hadcroft in Lye. Pubs like the Cobham Arms in Halesowen that have served Banks’s Mild since it was built in the early 1960’s now only offers a keg version.>br>
On the Saturday evening, members of the Branch all congregated at the Red House in Stourbridge, enjoyed a well-deserved pint, and started planning next year’s event!

Andy Koszary

Click on the link to see the survey
Stourbridge & Halesowen Branch Survey July 2022


Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, CAMRA instigated various initiatives to encourage customers to start visiting their local pubs again. As a result of this, we visited various areas of our Branch where there were clusters of pubs serving a variety of cask conditioned beers. Here are the results. Obviously this information is out of date as soon as it is published but it does give people a flavour of what is likely to be available. If there is nothing that floats your boat in one pub, there might well be something you fancy in the next one. Please be advised that earlier in the week, pubs might have fewer guest beers on (assuming they are open at all!) Most of these surveys were undertaken during Saturday lunchtimes.

The following survey results were compiled by Secretary/Treasurer Tony Morgan and are the beers that were available in Stourbridge one Saturday in July 2021.

Around Stourbridge in 50 Different Beers
Red House: Ossett White Rat, Pekko, Enville Ale, Elland American Pale Ale, 1872 Porter & Abbeydale Explorer’s Sweets. (6)
Doghouse: Kinver Light Railway & Brakspear Oxford Gold (2)

Duke William: . Craddock’s Troll, River Steam, Monarch’s Way, Crazy Sheep, Riptide & Saxon Gold (6)
Mitre: Bank’s Wainwright, Bombardier and Wye Valley HPA (3)

Queen’s Head: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside, Chain Ale, Dhillons Bright Eyes Sour Pale, BHB Cosmic, Newbridge Solaris, Printworks Geneva, Hop Back Summer Lightning and Facers North Star (10). (Some of the guest ales have since been replaced by Three Tuns Cleric’s Cure, North Cotswold Hung, Drawn ‘n’ Portered, Maypole Mayfair and Beowulf Swordsman.)

Chequers: Greene King Abbot Ale, Sharp’s Doom Bar, Wychwood Hobgoblin and Ruddles Best (4)

Waggon & Horses: Enville Ale, Ginger, Ludlow Gold, Mallinsons Caught Out, Thornbridge Crackendale and Dancing Duck Duckberry (5)

Barbridge: Hartlebury Off The Rails, Green Duck American Pale, Fixed Wheel Chain Reaction and Kinver Over The Edge. (4)
Plough & Harrow: Wye Valley HPA, Hobsons Best Bitter, Craddocks Troll, Saxon Gold & Crazy Sheep (5)
Shrubbery Cottage: Holdens Black Country Bitter & Golden Glow (2)
Seven Stars: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside,
Chain Ale, Summer Ale, AJ’s Dukey’s Delight, Sharp’s Doom Bar, Oakham Citra, Brentwood Summer Virgin, Burton Bridge Damn Dog, Fownes UGA & Maypole Platinum Blonde (7)

Royal Exchange/ Bird in Hand: Bathams Bitter, Bathams Mild (if on) (2)

Around Amblecote in 20 Different Beers

Starving Rascal: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside, Chain Ale, English Summer, Swan Lemon Ore, Slaters 1 Hop, Beat Cosmic Pop, Salopian Golden Thread & Bewdley Worcester Sway (10)

Robin Hood (Table Service Only) Bathams Bitter, Enville Ginger, Wye Valley HPA, St. Austell Proper Job, Hobsons Town Crier & Hop Back Summer Lightning (6)

Red Lion: Enville Ale, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Holdens Golden Glow, Salopian Lemon Dream & Oracle (5)

Maverick:Hobson’s Town Crier & Banks’s Wainwright (2)

Around Lye in 20 Different Beers
Beat Brewery Tap: Skaburst, Funk, Raver, Cosmic Pop, Jungle Drum Machine & Metal Head (6)

Windsor Castle: Printworks Bumblebee, Aloha, Geneva, Black Jack & Lobster (5)

Shovels: Enville Ale & Ginger, Holdens Golden Glow, Ambridge Bath’ums, & Ludlow Gold (5)
Hadcroft: Banks’s Mild & Amber, Ringwood Boondoggle (3)

Fox: Banks’s Amber & Marstons Wainwright (1
In addition, the Green Duck Brewery Tap is only a few stops away on the fabled No. 9 bus followed by a 5 minute walk

Green Duck Brewery Tap: Eton Trifles, American Pale, Mild & Blonde (4)

Around Shell Corner in 20 Different Beers

Swan Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside, Bank’s Sunbeam, Beowulf Swordsman, Slaters Premium, Salopian Mind Bomb, Sharp’s Atlantic, Three Tuns Cleric’s Cure, Oakham Bishop’s Farewell & Inferno (11)

Snooks Snooker Club: Enville Ale, Enville Ginger, Marston’s Pedigree, Wye Valley HPA & Butty Bach (5)

Shel-ter Bar: Adnams Ghost Ship & St. Austell Cornish Bitter (2)

Fixed Wheel Brewery Tap: Blackheath Stout, Chain Reaction, Single Speed Citra, The Cannibal & Through & Off (5)

(In addition, the Royal Oak, Lapal, sold Timothy Taylor Landlord, Purity Mad Goose and Black Sheep Twilight [3])

Around Short Cross in 25 Different Beers

Whitley: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside, English Summer & Chain Ale Banks’s Mild, Jennings Cumberland & Sharps Atlantic (8)

Hawne Tavern: Abbeydale Deception, Oakham Citra, White Rose Honey Blond & Saltaire Amarillo (4)

Edward VII: Enville Ale & Ginger, Holdens Golden Glow, Wye Valley Butty Bach, Castle Rock Elsie Mo, Nailmaker Cardinal Sin & Oakham Inferno (7)

Waggon & Horses: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall, Bradley’s Finest Golden, Fireside & English Summer, Castle Rock Elsie Mo, Woods Take 5, Salopian Golden Thread & Lemon Dream, Evan Evans WPA, Coach House Strawberry Blonde, Quantock Sunraker, North Cotswold Jumping Jack Flash & Beowulf Finns Hall Porter (8)

Around Wollaston in 15 Different Beers

Kingsbridge: Wye Valley HPA & Butty Bach, St. Austell Proper Job and Brew 61 Grazing Girls (4)

Princess: Sharps Doom Bar, Timothy Taylor Landlord (2)

Unicorn: Bathams Mild & Bitter (2)

Gate Hangs Well: Wye Valley HPA 

Plough: Wye Valley HPA & Butty Bach, Green Duck American Pale Ale, Three Tuns XXX, St. Austell Tribute, Enville Ale & Marstons 61 Deep (5)

Foresters: Wye Valley HPA, Enville Ale, Holdens Golden Glow & Ludlow Gold (2)


Stourbridge & Halesowen - 2019 Real Ale & Pub Census

Our annual real ale & pub census took place at the end of July. This was the third year we have run the event and the most successful so far. The idea was originally pinched from an article in “What’s Brewing”, the monthly newspaper available to all CAMRA members with their annual subscription.

The idea of the Census is to take a snapshot of the real ales being served in our Branch area. Members volunteer to visit one or more pubs to record which beers are being served and to make a note of the prices charged. It’s also an opportunity to check that the details on WhatPub are correct. This is the official CAMRA website, listing all the pubs in the country and giving details of opening times, features and facilities.

The census followed a similar plan to previous years except this time we extended the survey to run from the Friday evening to the Saturday evening. There were five ale-trails that all finished with a Stourbridge pub. Each trail was timed to finish around the same time before a final gathering in the Red House Boutique on Saturday evening. In addition, individual members were encouraged to visit our other real ale pubs during the 24-hour period. Thanks to the help of 22 volunteers, we managed to visit all 91, which is the first year that we have succeeded in covering every single real ale pub in the Branch.

The 91 pubs in the Branch this year is a reduction of two from 2018. The pubs that have closed included the Black Horse, Halesowen, the Birch Tree Inn, Amblecote and the Old Bank in Stourbridge town centre. Hopefully these will be temporary closures, however the Labour in Vain in Stourbridge appears to be lost for good with plans for it to be turned into apartments. On the plus side we gained the Wheelie Thirsty and the Beat Brewery Tap House in Lye, two very welcome additions to our Branch.

The main purpose of the census was to record the different beers being served but members also recorded some information on prices. The cheapest pint of real ale available was just £1.89 and the most expensive was £3.90; both very similar to last year. The average price of a pint was £3.08, compared with £3.11 last year. The reason for this apparent reduction is likely to be that all our pubs were surveyed this year whereas in 2018 we didn’t cover some of our local “estate” pubs, where prices are understandably lower than town centre locations. Even so, this compares well with a recent national survey where the average pint was £3.50. The average strength of the beers being served also remained about the same at 4.3%.

We also took the opportunity to mark various beers on the WhatPub website. The scoring system ranges from 0 for No Real Ale to 5 for Perfect. 105 beers were scored on the day, with marks ranging from 1 (Poor) to 4.5 (Very Good/Perfect). The average score was 3.0, just slightly lower than the 3.2 from last year.

An incredible 150 different cask beers were available over the weekend. Long gone are the days when the local pub just served a mild & bitter from their own brewery. Whilst this wide variety of beers and beer types is a very welcome development, as a campaign we are always mindful that the quality of the product is the overriding factor, rather than the quantity of beers on offer.

Local breweries were well represented including the four in the Branch area; Beat & Sadler’s from Lye, Green Duck from Stourbridge and Fixed Wheel from Halesowen. However, the most popular beers (or at least the ones that were in the highest number of pubs) were Holden’s Golden Glow (16 pubs) Enville Ale (14) and Wye Valley HPA (13).

The Branch reviewed all of the results at their recent August meeting. Tim Cadwell won the prize for correctly guessing the total number of different beers available on the day. The general view was that as well as collecting some very useful information, it was an enjoyable, sociable event. What better way can you think of spending a summer afternoon than going around visiting local pubs? The Branch agreed to now make this an annual event and plans for July 2020 are already in hand.

Clink on link below to see pub survey.

Stourbridge & Halesowen CAMRA Real Ale & Pub Census 2019