Solihull's Newest - and Smallest - Brewery |
After more than thirty years fermenting beer in his garden shed in Hockley Heath, winning the Solihull Beer Festival's home brew competition in 2010, Perry Clarke decided to go pro last year and set up The Shed Brewery with son Connor.
The pair now produce twenty gallons every week from that very same site, their selection of eight brands ranging from 3.4% to 5.6% ABV. Using a brewing process dating back two centuries, the Clarkes avoid chemical additives and use only high quality Maris Otter malts sourced from an independent maltster in Oxford. Little wonder customers have to book their orders in more than a month in advance.
[To become a friend of The Shed, phone Perry on 07910 004041]
10/12 Source: Steve Green
Beer Brewed in Solihull
In a small suburban street is an unassuming house with its garage at the end of the garden. A year ago it housed the usual junk and detritus found in most garages. Today it is a pristine, white-painted room with custom-built drainage, high-tech security and a shiny new set of brewing vessels, gleaming in the sunlight and currently creating one of the best new ales I've tasted in a long time.
Steve Whitworth first tried brewing many years ago, feeling certain he could do better than the home made wines his father made during his childhood. His first attempts were simple affairs, using pre-mixed tins of malt and hop extract, yielding a reasonable but unexciting result. But more importantly, it sowed the seeds of a future adventure. Later he built his own equipment using cut-off pressure kegs and a ferocious gas burner that would take your eyebrows in a flash, given half a chance. He inflicted his concoctions on friends and neighbours and was surprised to find that not only did he still have friends, but they were coming back for more.
Many moons passed, during which Steve patiently honed a number of recipes, tweaking malts here and hops there, with the unerring assistance of his friends, now dubbed the Tasting Technicians. He estimates that his main brew, Sobriety, has been brewed some 50 or 60 times before being released on an unsuspecting world. The result is a delightful blend of citrussy sweetness with a gentle but noticeable bitterness, plenty of malt taste and a remarkable length, allowing one to enjoy the taste a good while after swallowing. Somehow he manages to achieve this with only 4% ABV, a level at which many other beers can be bland and uninteresting. Other beers will follow in due course - the Tasting Technicians assure me that the porter and wheat beer are worth waiting for.
The marketing brains behind this new venture is Charlotte, Steve's wife. In a very short space of time she has raised awareness of Whitworth Brewery to the level of being recognised in the park by complete strangers while out walking her dog, Missy, a huge St Bernards but still apparently a puppy.
Despite having made only one brew, Sobriety is already available in Bernie's Real Ale Off-license, Rowington Club (both regular entries in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide) and the Warwickshire Lad. She has also managed to secure a place on the SIBA delivery list, which will allow their beers to gain recognition across a much wider area.
Solihull CAMRA was delighted to join Steve and Charlotte to celebrate the opening of Whitworth Brewery. We wish them well in their venture and look forward to celebrating many successes in the forthcoming months and years.
UPDATE: The Wellington in Birmingham, The Anchor in Digbeth, the Tom o'the Wood in Rowington and the Acres in Damsonwood all now stock Sobriety.
05/2012 Source: Gordon Clarke
On Wednesday 15th December 2010, we lost a loyal and enthusiastic member of Solihull CAMRA; more importantly we lost a good friend. Ian Edwards was one of our youngest members; tattooed, a heavy metal aficionado and Liverpool FC fan: first impressions were memorable. Given a few more minutes you soon realised he was a caring and sincere person with a passion for real ale matched by a genuine interest. Ian organised our first trip to Long Itchington, and this has become a regular feature in our social calendar.
Ian was diagnosed with cancer - a tumour on his spine - almost a year ago and we have followed his treatment and progress with hope. Between periods in hospital Ian was determined to join in with normal life as part of his fight back. Many would have met him as recently as our October beer festival either when he was helping or over a pint.
We send our sympathy to John and Carol, and will remember the good times we had with Ian.
During Ian's last months he and his family were able to go on a number of short breaks together. These trips, usually arranged at short notice to fit in with his treatments, were a huge help in difficult times. A trust fund has been set up in Ian's name to help others in a similar situation take breaks like this. Donations will be gratefully received - sort code 20-77-62, account number: 9327 2176. Remember to use Gift Aid if you can. Please email if you want any further help.
Purity's Third Ale Scores a First
Local brewery Purity have just launched the third beer in their range, which goes on sale in 200 Tesco stores this week. It will be the first alcoholic beverage to carry the prestigious Red Tractor logo.
Farmers Harvest (4.8%), described as an amber ale, is launched to celebrate the centenary of the National Farmers Union and is brewed from 100% UK Farm Assured ingredients. The Red Tractor mark guarantees use of high quality ingredients and assures the use of the best production standards - a philosophy that fits well with Purity's own vision.
02 Mar 08 Source: Gordon Clarke, Off Licence News, Purity Brewing Co
New Wetherspoon Opens in Solihull
Monday 4th February saw the opening of a new Wetherspoon's pub in Solihull's town centre. Based in Poplar Road, the Assembly Rooms was once used as the council offices and becomes the town centre's second Wetherspoon's establishment - this time a Lloyd's No.1 Bar. Solihull CAMRA members were invited along to staff training days during the weekend before the opening, to act as test customers and sample free food and drink. Needless to say we were only too willing to oblige.
The pub has a large 2-floor interior and is conveniently served by a bar on each floor. A large spiral staircase runs up the middle of the building. The ground floor has a number of different areas separated by pillars and half-height walls, including a library with sofas, low tables and no speakers. The rest of the pub has a number of speakers that provide low-volume sound for the sports channels shown on several large-screen TVs. The first floor has a dance floor for use on Friday and Saturday nights, and an enormous mirror-ball and light-cannons are suspended from the high ceiling.
The downstairs bar, to the left of the main entrance, has 10 handpumps with a further 5 on the upstairs bar. The intention is to serve 8 or more different ales and increase this number during festivals. The first of these festivals is scheduled to run from 27th March to 14th April. For the training days we were treated to Purity's Pure UBU and Tom Wood's Old Timber, both in fine form. A selection of food from the deli and burger areas of the standard Wetherspoon's menu was provided. These were well cooked and served by an enthusiastic and attentive staff.
We wish the manager, Jim, and his staff well for the opening and look forward to sampling a wide range of unusual ales there in the very near future. Good luck also to Dawn who takes over as manager of the White Swan.
4 Feb 08 Source: Gordon Clarke
Real Ale Gain with O’Neill’s in Solihull
The Barley Mow opened its doors again on 12th December, now calling itself O'Neill's - an Irish themed pub- one of an M&B owned chain. I wasn't sure what to expect by way of "Oirishness" and first impressions were of a well appointed but ordinary pub. Closer observation reveals more however, and Guinness and Irish Whiskey adverts, several sorts of draught Guinness and Irish folk muzak give the pub its credentials. Even the manager, Andy Thompson, is Irish.
He told me that since opening in December they'd done quite well generally and they would continue to have two cask beers on (at present Deuchars IPA £2.40, and Taylor's Landlord £2.90) perhaps replacing one of the beers with a changing guest. Both beers were in first class condition and Andy must know his stuff because his last pub, The Billet in Essex, had four real ales accounting for 50% of sales.
The food prices are about average - £4.95 for a chicken and bacon salad to £7.25 for the lamb shank - but the quality definitely above average.
Oh, and what about the Irish hospitality, well yes, we were asked the standard "Is every thing OK with your meals," but also "Can I get you any other drinks," which was very welcome as I had just finished my Deuchars and was about to progress to the Landlord.
Altogether a pleasing experience and my next visit might be to watch footie on the big screen from one of the booths.
12 Jan 08 Source: Bob Jackson
Return of the Reservoir
The Reservoir at Earlswood is planning a series of fun events to rebuild its reputation as a good pub to visit. The rural pub is popular with walkers and cyclists visiting the nearby lakes, but late last year received some bad press when a group of undesirables entered the premises and caused criminal damage as well as injuring several staff members and customers.
"Incidents like this are very rare indeed," commented manager Nigel Cook, "and we would like to reassure all of our loyal customers of this."
The programme of events begins with a mini beer festival running from the 25th to the 27th of January. This will include 10 real ales from around the UK, and attendees will also be offered a complementary sausage bap. On the Saturday night there will be a magician for the adults and children alike, and Solihull CAMRA's own singer and guitarist Roger Dipple will be performing.
Following the beer festival there will be a special Valentines Day menu with tables decorated with flowers for that extra special touch. Bookings for this are being taken on 01564 702220.
On Sunday 10th of February there will be a charity tug of war event in aid of. Starting at 10am, teams of eight will take one another on to win two gallons of beer. Each warrior will also get a bacon & sausage sandwich and a pint of beer at the end of the festivities. Entrance to the competition will be £5.00 per person, and all the money raised will go to Solihull disability care charity SOLO. Again, call 01564 702220 to book your team or call in at the Reservoir and speak to Nigel.
24 Jan 2008 Source: Kevin Clarke
Tunnel Brewery Launches New Ale
Local brewery Tunnel has created a new ale to commemorate the Battle of Bosworth. It was launched with an Ale & Pie night in the Tithe Barn restaurant at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. The new ale, which has been brewed specially for the Battlefield Heritage Centre, is called Let Battle Commence and is an easy-drinking session beer, made with traditional ingredients sourced in England and with an ABV of 3.8%.
Tunnel Brewery had been approached by the Battlefield Heritage Centre to brew a special ale for them. Bob Yates and Mike Walsh, the brewers at Tunnel were only too happy to oblige. They have produced Let Battle Commence in both draught and bottled form, with the bottled version being sold in the gift shop. The draught version was available at the launch from a nine-gallon cask, set up on a table and being dispensed by gravity. The bottled beer states on the label that it has been brewed by the Battlefield Brewery! However, the mystery surrounding the name was soon cleared up when Bob and Mike addressed the assembled guests, firstly to give a short talk about Tunnel Brewery and then explain about the new beer itself. The Battlefield Heritage Centre is in the process of building a pub, as part of the site’s medieval village. Bob and Mike pointed out that, as most towns and villages would have had a pub, they would also have had a brewery. Therefore, a piece of land has now been set aside for the construction of a brewery once the pub is completed. The Centre's web site indicates that the pub is to be called The Old Salt Road. The brewery, which will be run by Bob and Mike from Tunnel Brewery, will be known as the Battlefield Brewery.
Two more real ales are set to be produced by Tunnel next year, one in honour of King Richard III and one for Henry Tudor (later Henry VII). It has not yet been decided what the new ales are to be called; names being considered are King Richard and King Henry, or possibly White Rose and Red Rose. Details of the new ales have not been finalised yet but Bob stated that both will be stronger than Let Battle Commence.
The Tithe Barn restaurant itself has a small bar at the far end and is equipped with a handpump. My enquiries with the hostesses revealed that the handpump is not in use at present but they stated that it was a shame not to use it, and that plans are being considered to make real ale available in the Tithe Barn once the Battlefield Brewery is in production on site. I also learned that the Ale & Pie night on 14th November was the first such event to have been held there and that further such evenings are being planned to launch the new beers due to be produced next year. Keep an eye on the Centre's web site for further details.
In the meantime, Let Battle Commence should now be available. Look out for it at the December Farmers Markets - it is well worth a try!
3 Dec 2007 Source: Chris Lloyd
Most Improved Pubs are Blooming Winners
Two winners of Solihull & District CAMRA's Most Improved Pub award have also come out winners in this year's Solihull in Bloom competition.
Most Improved Pub 2005 joint winner, the Golden Acres in Damson Wood, was placed first in the Pub/Hotel/Restuarant Frontage category of the borough's prestigious floral contest. It was closely followed by the 2007 CAMRA award winner, the White Lion in Hampton in Arden, which took second place.
Solihull itself is a regular winner in its class in the annual Britain in Bloom competition.
22 Nov 07 Source: Malcolm Harry
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