Sunday, 11 September 2011
Black Country (part three)
Stop three (or was it stop four?) on the crawl was the Beacon Hotel in Sedgley. Another place I've longed to visit for yonks. Why? Because it's where Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild is brewed. A Mild second in strength only to Pretty Things XXXX. An old-fashioned Mild, at pre-WW I strength. Just my cup of tea. Or pint of Mild.
I know. I've just sung the praises of watery Mild and here I am going on about a strong one. Consistency isn't my strongest suit. (I think it's either clubs or diamonds.) Here's another crazy idea: a pub that only sells Mild. But, to make it more thrilling, there would be the fall gamut of Mild, from 2-and-a-bit % ABV to over 10%, from pale yellow to deepest coal black. And everywhere inbetween. I reckon I could come up with a set of Milds that covered a wider range of flavours,colours and strengths than you'll find in most pubs' offerings.
Wandering again. My initial pledge has been quickly broken. Back to the Beacon Hotel.
What makes it special (apart from the lovely unspoilt interior) is the thing stuck on the back of the pub. A miniature tower brewery. A couple of decades ago it was brought back into use, having lain idle for half a century. Not only did they refire the brewery, but they tried to brew the type of beer that had been brewed in it during its glory days. Mild. Full-strength Mild. It's exactly what I would have done.
My chauffeurs and guides, Mark and Sarah, know all the right people. They got me a peak inside the brewery itself. Not a tour. The barman just unlocked it and left us to ourselves.
Small, but perfectly formed is the best way to describe it. I'd show you photos, but the light was pretty bad. It's very much like many of the older breweries I've been around - Lees, for example. Just much, much smaller. Some of my homebrewing chums in the US have kit almost as big. When I get around to building my mansion, I'll include something similar. Just to keep me occupied during those long winter nights.
That's me done with Birmingham and the Black Country. Hope you enjoyed the short trip. Next up is London (yet again).
129 Bilston Street