Ales and Tales

Our branch magazine, Ales and Tales, is distributed to 200 pubs within the branch areas of Stourbridge & Halesowen and Dudley branches. If you would like to contribute an article or pub and brewery news please contact Lizzie on moc.liamtoh@700hplarhtebazile

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Raising a glass in Stourbridge

Stourbridge is a large town on the south-western fringe of the “Black Country” in the West Midlands. The town gives its name to local glass production, which originated with the immigration of Hugenot miners in the 1600’s. Stourbridge glass was recognised as being amongst the finest in the world, but sadly, most of the large glassmakers have closed or moved elsewhere. However, glasses and beer go together, so we decided to pay a visit to this historic town to see what it could offer.

Arriving by train at Stourbridge Junction railway station, we took the unique Parry People-Mover flywheel-powered lightweight railcar down the shortest branch line in Europe to Stourbridge Town. Passing through the modern bus station into a subway, we emerged into Foster Street for our first port of call at the Red House Boutique. Formerly a sports-bar, it now offers a great range of cask and craft beers from local breweries and further afield. We sampled Salopian’s Shropshire Gold and Triumph’s Pictish Ale.

Turning left along the High Street, a quick visit to The Chequers Inn revealed an excellent Wetherspoons pub with a good range of real ales. Walking along the High Street in the opposite direction, we found Victoria Passage where, at the end, we found the Barbridge, a tiny micro-pub on the corner of Talbot Street. Here, welcoming staff serve a good range of cask and craft beer and we sampled Kelham Island’s Full Nutty Jacket and Burning Soul Simcoe Pale Ale.

Barbridge, Stourbridge

Returning to the High Street, and turning left, we spied The Old Bank, on the corner of Coventry Street. As the name suggests, this is a recently refurbished former bank, and offers a good range of real ales, including Pardoes Bumblehole. Turning right along Coventry Street, on the corner with Duke Street, we found the Duke William, one of two outlets for Craddocks Brewery. The beer was originally brewed behind the pub, but is now mostly brewed behind another pub in Bridgnorth. Famous for its beer and pies, we sampled Saxon Gold and Honey Ewe.

Duke William, Stourbridge

Now for a longer stroll, through the Crown Shopping Centre, across the ring road (Bath Road) on to Enville Street. Two pubs to visit here; firstly, the Queens Head, a recently reopened and refurbished pub taken over by Black Country Ales, where we sampled their own beers, BFG, Fireside and Pig on the Wall. Returning along Enville Street, we couldn’t miss the Royal Exchange, a long-standing pub serving the local beer from Bathams, not far away in Brierley Hill.

Returning to Stourbridge town centre for a longer walk along Bath Road, we turned right along Worcester Street towards Mary Stevens Park. On the corner of Chapel Street, we found the Waggon & Horses, recently taken over by Enville Ales, where we were able to sample Enville Ginger, and American Pale Ale from the associated Stourton Brewery. Further along Worcester Street, we reached the historic Plough & Harrow, now operated by Craddocks Brewery. A cosy and friendly pub, full of interesting locals, where we sampled Goat Herder Stout and Crazy Sheep. Then back to Stourbridge Town, by railcar to Stourbridge Junction for our final three bars. Walking through the car park, we soon reached Rufford Road and continued to the Green Duck Brewery, a simple brewery tap (Badelynge Bar) with a friendly family atmosphere. Here, most their current range of beers can be sampled (at £10 for 4 pints), including Duck & Dive, Duck Under and seasonal brews, along with some guest beers (only open Friday and Saturday afternoons).

Windsor Castle, Lye

Continuing along Rufford Road and Hungary Hill, we caught the No.9 bus along the Stourbridge Road to Lye. Here, at the cross-roads with Pedmore Road, our first port of call was the Windsor Castle, the original tap house for Sadlers brewery, where we sampled some excellent Worcester Sorceror and Boris Citrov. Walking north along the Dudley Road, we turned right into the station car park to find our final brewery tap, the new Sadlers Brewery (opens Wednesday-Saturday). A modern building with the bar on the first floor, with a viewing gallery to see the new brewery below. We had an excellent meal, washed down with the inevitable glass of Mud City Stout and Peaky Blinder.

Sadlers Brewhouse, Lye

Stourbridge is certainly to be recommended for a good variety of cask and craft beers within a short distance, and we rejoined our train at Lye station for our return journey home.

Steve James

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

– Seville and Malaga- Steve James (with thanks to Dick James for the photos)

In the past, many beer enthusiasts have thought of Spain as something of a beer desert – the best you could get was a good glass of San Miguel. But when you’re lying on a hot, sunny beach on the Costa del Sol, an ice-cold glass of lager certainly hits the spot. However, like other southern European countries, Spain has recently seen a virtual explosion of micro-breweries and craft beer, with a wide range of light and dark beers now available in many towns and cities.
We decided to check what is on offer on a recent New Year trip to Seville and Malaga. Seville is one of Spain’s most historic cities, with its tourist attractions of the Giralda Cathedral, Alcazar Royal Palace and Torre de Oro, along with the River Guadalquivir and the cobbled streets of the old town. But now you can add micro-breweries, craft beer and beer cafés to the list.
Seville Oranges We started our exploration at the unprepossessing Lupulopolis beer shop, up a side street in Calle Jose Gestoso. Named after the Spanish word for hops, it has a wide selection of locally brewed bottled beers, with artisan beers from all over Spain, along with the odd beer on draught. You can sit on a tiny stool to sample the beers, including some fine Spanish dark beers. One of the most memorable beers was a 18O whisky oatmeal stout, but probably the most unusual beer was Cervezas Domus Crème Cerveza, a Baileys-type sweet cream beer with hops and beer in the ingredients. Expensive, but lovely!
We then went around the corner to the Red House Art & Food bar in Calle Amor de Dios. This is a contemporary beer café, in the “deconstructed art” style, complete with tables made out of wooden doors, exposed pipes and cracked concrete. It offers a good range of bottled Spanish craft beers and a rotating selection of local brews on draught. We sampled Cantabrian brewer DouGall’s finely balanced Pale Ale and a foamy Cartujana APA. A short distance away is one of the best beer cafés in town, the Maquila bar, on Calle Delgado. This is the only true brew-pub in town, where they brew a range of Son beers, most of which are available on draught. Other draught beers are available from regional Spanish brewers, and the impressive food menu offers tasty food with a distinctly Andalusian touch. We certainly enjoyed the Son Black Catrina.

Taberna Maquila brew-pub, Seville
Oranges in Seville New Year’s Eve saw many of the local bars closed, but we found the Cerverceria Internacional open in Calle Gamazo. Standing room only in this crowded bar, focusing on imported beers, with about 15 beers on tap and over 250 bottled beers to wash down the traditional Andalusian tapas snacks. We sampled a glass of Leffe Brun and Delirium Tremens Christmas Ale. Next day, after a cruise on the river and a tour on the open-top bus (an excellent way to see the city and orientate yourself), we continued our beer exploration. First on the list was the Guevara & Lynch bar on Calle Viriato (watch the sat-nav, because it’s actually on Calle Madre de la Purisma which seems to have been renamed!) This a modern bar, with friendly staff and a great variety of tapas and larger meals. But we were here for the beer, with a good range on draught, and the DouGall Imperial Stout and Guervera & Lynch Saison IPA were particularly enjoyable.

Cerverceria Internacional, Seville
Seville Oranges There are several other craft beer bars in Seville, but due to the erratic opening hours (many do not open until the afternoon and some don’t open at all during public holidays), we weren’t able to visit them. However, we did find the Al Andalus bar open, on the eastern side of the river in Vicente Flors Navarro. This friendly bar offers some of the best regional beers from Cordoba, Cadiz, Seville and Granada, along with a range of imported bottled beers. We also had a day out to Cadiz, an historic port town, famous for its links to Christopher Columbus. Here, close to the railway station, we found the Beer Cabin, the outlet for the locally brewed Maier beers. A food menu of American, Mexican, Peruvian and French favourites is offered to go down well with more than 40 local, regional and international beers, with most of the full range of Maier beers on draught. We spent a happy hour or so talking with one of the brewers, sampling the range of locally brewed beers, including Cream Ale, Especial Brown Ale, Imperial IPA, Lola and American Pale Ale.

As most of us live in the West Midlands, we reached Seville via a flight from Birmingham to Malaga. This gave a short time to sample the local beers and bars on offer in this coastal town. We started off by following the long road around the northern edge of the old town (Calle de la Carreteria) between the River Guadalmedina and the castle. First, we visited La Madriguera craft beer bar (roughly translated as “rabbit warren” in Spanish) to sample their five locally-brewed draught beers, including La Madriguera Cream Ale and Cerveza Malaqa. One of the lady partners of the brewery is so committed to brewing beer that she has tattoos on her fingers; on one hand the word “BEER” and on the other symbols for water, hops, malt and yeast! A short distance away is Central Beers, a modern beer café, with a wide selection (15) of local and imported draught beers and a 100 or so bottled beers. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable about the range of beers on offer, and there is a good basic food menu, with hamburgers etc. We enjoyed glasses of Barnett & Son Oatmeal Stout and Destraperlo Negra. In the Plaza de la Merced is the Cerveceria Arte & Sante, a rather contemporary and “minimalist” beer café, which offers locally brewed La Malaqa draught beers and imports from other European breweries such as Mikeller and Scottish Brewdog. A very cosmopolitan bar, with folks from as far as field as the 2017 City of Culture (Hull), Colombia and Australia. We enjoyed the company, and the beers, including Cerveza Malaqa Kernel Panic, Brown Ale, Bootlegger and Mk Ultra 128482. The following day we had a day-out along the Costa del Sol to Fuengirola. Even here there is a craft beer bar at the far end of the town. Woods Bar, on Calle Churruca, offers a range of bottled beers from Cerveza Malaqa, and we spent a pleasant hour sitting outside in the sunshine sampling some of them. Back in Malaga, we found the Cerveceria Het Beste Biertje in Calle Trinidad Grund. As the name might suggest, this beer café focuses on imported Belgian beers, and I can certainly recommend the bitterballen (crispy beef and potato croquettes). We washed these down with glasses of Malasombre Porter and Tongerlo Christmas Winter Ale. Our final bar was a fairly new brew-pub, El Rincon del Cervecero in the heart of Malaga’s Soho district. We spent some time talking to the brewer, David, who is passionate about craft beer, and offers brewing courses for both beginners and advanced home-brewers. We were spoilt for choice, but managed to sample glasses of La Reine del Soho (APA) ad Buen Karma (IPA).

Het Beste Biertje, Malaga
Steve James And what about the oranges? Well, Seville is famous for its bitter-sweet oranges, a key ingredient in the well-known marmalade. While we were having an “emergency” ice-cold Cruzcampo beer and a cremated burger in a small square in the sunshine, we noticed that we were sitting under a group of orange trees. One of the taller members of our party was keen to make a closer inspection, and soon afterwards, back at home, a handful of these oranges was eventually transformed into delicious jars of home-made genuine Seville orange marmalade!
Cervezas y aplausos! (Beers and cheers)