Trips & Events
Sadler's Brewery Tour
On Thursday 25th April 2019 our CAMRA branch were invited to Sadler's Brewery. Here are some photos of the event hosted by Head Brewer Steve Robinson.
The Branch would like to thank Sadler's Brewing Co. and Sadlers Brewhouse & Bar - The Lye for hosting CAMRA members in Lye yesterday. What a fantastic evening! The key message to come across was that despite the impressive scale of the brewery, they were keen to demonstrate that the brewing processes are all controlled by humans, and not an automated or computer controlled process as would be found in larger 'industrial' breweries. The element of 'craft' is something that they work hard to retain. Sadler's growth is not something that has won friends universally, but a look behind the scenes was certainly an eye opener for us CAMRA members. Special thanks to Ian King for being present throughout the night and speaking to many of us, to Steve Robinson for an excellent tour, and Steve James for co-ordinating the visit. Sadler's definitely know how to lay on a great evening! If you haven't been to the Brewhouse (or the Windsor Castle) for a while it is well worth a second look!
Titanic Take Takeover
On Thursday 31st January publican Jo Cundale of the Queen’s Head, Enville Street, arranged a tap takeover with Stoke-on-Trent’s Titanic Brewery. Alliteration-wise possibly the best tap takeover of all.
Titanic’s West Midland’s sales executive George Hawbrook hosted the event which was attended by a packed pub including more Stourbridge & Halesowen CAMRA members than even seen together before in one pub.
Most of us had got stuck into their beers before George arrived, we had never seen such a collection of dark beers on a pubs bar, other than at beer festivals.
When George arrived he introduced himself and gave us the background on Titanic Brewery. John Pazio founded the brewery in 1985. He decided to call the brewery after the famous ship, whose captain, Edward Smith was a Stoke man. Unfortunately the business eventually went under, pardon the pun. It was taken over by Keith Bott and his brother Dave. Kieth had worked as a brewer for John in Titanic’s early days, They now employ about 150 staff but are still very much involved in day to day running of the business. Their most popular beer, winner of many awards, is Plum Porter. George explained this was made as an afterthought when they realised they had promised to produce a new beer but had overlooked the deadline. They had just brewed a porter so they added some plums to it and Plum Porter was born. It proved to be their most successful beer and is now 60% of their production. The talk went down very well, pardon the pun again. George concluded with a question & answer session and explained we would get a raffle ticket with our beer purchases, with the chance to win, bottle openers, bottles of beer, a t-shirt and a brewery tour. He drew raffle towards the end of the evening, Andy Kozary being the only winner from our group, now the proud owner of a Titanic bottle opener. My suggestion that all CAMRA members should get a free brewery tour fell on deaf ears.
Of the 8 Titanic beers on offer, 6 were dark. There was Iceberg, White Star, Black Ice, Cappuccino, Chocolate & Vanilla, Cherry Dark and Plum Porter. One of the best CAMRA socials we’ve had, a great night. Many thanks to Titanic, George and of course Jo and her staff.
Stourbridge & Halesowen Armistice Crawl – Saturday 10 November 2018
On Saturday 10 November some members of Stourbridge & Halesowen Branch spent an afternoon visiting some of our “WW1 pubs”. It was an act of Remembrance on the centenary of the 1918 Armistice. The selection was based on pubs on the No 9 bus route, being the connection between the two towns in the Branch. Out of over 50 of our real ale pubs that existed in 1918, we selected six where the existing building operated as a pub in 1914-18, which had some link to WW1. Thanks to Tony Hitchmough for some of the historical information that helped us plan the day.
We imagined these pubs as the locals which our servicemen frequented before the war; where their parents & friends drank whilst they served in the trenches and where those that survived, returned to celebrate their safe homecoming and to remember their comrades that did not.
We started at the Duke William in Coventry Street, Stourbridge at lunchtime. It’s a fine old building dating from 1903. The Licensees in WW1 were Henry Wake (1912 - 1917) and Edward Woodcock (1917 - 1920). We could not trace any direct WW1 link, but it had already been publicised as the start point. We all enjoyed a selection of Craddock’s beers. Unfortunately, we were too early to sample their famous pies, so we made our way to the nearby Wetherspoons for lunch.
The Chequers at the top of the High Street was previously known as the Checkers. The WW1 licensee was Alphonse Smets (1912 - 1930). In the days of the old Stourbridge to Halesowen turnpike route, the Birmingham mail coach left from here every morning at 7.30. It is also next to the original site of the Stourbridge war memorial, unveiled in 1923, which was moved to Stevens Park when the ring road was built in the 1969. The usual Wetherspoons menu with a good selection of food was available. It is a pub that, as a branch, we do not often visit but a good selection of beers was on offer. The Enville Ale was very good, but the Exmoor Gold just average. We then took the No 9 bus to Lye and walked to the Shovel on Pedmore Road. One of my favourite pubs with a great beer selection, served in top condition. It included a special edition beer “Flanders Fields”, a 3.7% fruity ale brewed by Greene King. The Licensee was William Hill from 1914 to 1920 and 11 of the 254 names on the Lye war memorial outside Christ Church on the High Street are “Hills”. We were joined here by some other members and after an enjoyable pint, some of us went to the War Memorial for a few moments of reflection & remembrance.
Our next stop was the Little Chop House in Colley Gate. The licensee was George Albert Roper from 1896 to1916 and a George Frederick Roper was killed in action in October 1918. He is commemorated on the Halesowen and Cradley war memorials. We were unable to trace a direct family link. He was not a son but may have been a nephew or cousin. A new barrel of Holden’s Golden Glow was on offer and enjoyed by all.
A short hop to the Waggon & Horses in Halesowen was next. Although we could not trace a direct link, the pub is the closest to the Halesowen war memorial erected in 1921 and there are six WW1 war graves in the nearby cemetery. Our current Pub of the Year, the Waggon had 9 beers and 4 ciders on offer including “Funk”, a 5.5% dry hopped IPA from our newcomer, Beat Brewery from Lye. The beer board also included “1918”, a commemoration beer from Mr Grundy’s Brewery
Back on the No 9, the final pub on our trip was the Black Horse on Manor Way, Halesowen. This was a canal-side pub until the old Lapal tunnel collapsed in 1917 after subsidence caused by the nearby Manor Colliery. It is close to the site of the last bomb in the war to be dropped in the Midlands from a Zeppelin. A bomb fell on Leasowes golf course on the night of 19/20 October 1917. It is believed the target was Coombs Wood or Hayward Forge. After the war the golfers turned the bomb crater into a bunker. Sadly, the pub closed just a week after our visit and is now up for sale.
Whilst some of the WW1 links were a little tenuous it was nevertheless a memorable and enjoyable trip.
They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.
Manchester October 2018.
A few of us decided to go to the Indyman Festival one day and do a city crawl the next.
Thursday 6th September 2018
The Queen's Head, Enville Street, Stourbridge a Black Country Ales Pub, had a tap takeover by Salopian Brewery which was well attended by our members. A great night out and bostin' beer.
Saturday 9th June 2018 was our Thank You Trip to Nottingham for all the volunteer helpers at Stourbridge Beer festival who wished to attend. Photos are from the following pubs - Vat & Fiddle, Canalhouse, crafty Crow and Kean's Head. Many more were visited but as the beer took hold the photographer forgot to take any more photos.
Saturday 15th July 2017 We had a pub crawl social in the Jewellery Quarter starting at the 1000 Trades, followed by the Pig & Tail, Burning Soul Brewery Tap, The Wolf, Indian Brewery and a last couple of drinks in Tilt in central Brum.
Manchester Thank You Trip June 3rd 2017
Sheffield Trip February 2017
Calling at Devonshire Cat, Brewdog, Old House, Station Tap, wellington, Kelham Island, Fat Cat, Riverside, Harlequin, Shakespeare, Rutland Arms, Banker's Draft, Red Deer, University Arms and Beer Engine
Stourbridge Marking Social Thursday 15th December 2016
Calling at the Waggon & Horses, Red House Boutique, Scary Canary and Barbridge.
We have held a Members’ Night for about 10 years, at first in local pubs and as it grew to present levels, in larger premises such as Sadler’s Brewhouse and Bar or Badelynge Bar, Green Duck Brewery. 670 invitations were sent out, mainly by email but 277 by post, which takes a lot of time to prepare! Green Duck had been informed of numbers attending, ordered food, and booked the staff, 90 members had accepted and replied to. It was at this eleventh hour that the Regional Director of CAMRA intervened and informed us we could not use profits from our beer festival to host this kind of event. We pointed out that we had even been praised in the past for our success encouraging members to become more active through this kind of event, but to no avail. The morale of the branch committee was shattered. Chair Phil Zjalic had the arduous task of informing Green Duck of the sad news. Intent on saving the day, he miraculously managed to negotiate a successful outcome. Many thanks to the generosity of Green Duck, Scott Povey and Slot Catering. The evening went ahead, although the evening start time was 8pm there were quite a few members waiting to come in when the doors were opened. As they arrived they were issued a token each for their free pint courtesy of Green Duck. At around 8:30pm Phil welcomed everybody and explained the format of the evening. This was followed by Head Brewer Alex Hill, who gave a short talk about the beers available that night and then Tony Skirving gave instruction on how to obtain a password for the CAMRA websites and how to enter beer scores on WhatPub.com. There were a few technical hitches with the equipment but he got the message across. This was followed by an excellent social, meeting new members, intermingling with old, eating a splendid buffet and drinking a selection of superb Green Duck real ales. A very successful and enjoyable night.