Stourbridge & Halesowen

Campaign for Real Ale

Stourbridge & Halesowen - 2019 Real Ale & Pub Census

Friday 20 September 2019

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.

Pub Survey Results