Monday, 30 December 2013

Beers from other Newark breweries

I promised you details of some beers from other Newark breweries and here they are. Two very different types of operation.

First there's Westcrown, a very early new brewery. I think it operated between 1977 and 1980. It seems to have left almost no trace on the internet. I can remember their beer. The standard Bitter was pretty good when looked after properly. There was just one problem: where to find it. At the time, there was only one place that could have stocked it, the only non-tied pub in town, the Old Kings Arms. But for some reason they chose not to serve it. Strange that the town's specialist cask pub didn't want to sell beer from the town's only cask brewery.

Maybe I should give you a few more details. It was located on George Street in what I believe was a former maltings. The building certainly looks like a maltings. I went round it once. Not a particularly long tour, as it wasn't a huge operation. The beer I tasted there was really outstanding. Way above the general standard of microbrewery beer of the time.

I never got to try Conqueror. I doubt many pubs would have wanted to stock a beer that strong.

I think it was lack of potential outlets that eventually did for Westcrown. It wasn't just in Newark, but also in the region around it that virtually all the pubs were tied. Newark may have had a brewing tradition, but it wasn't the greatest place to start a brewery in the 1970's.

This is how the building looks today. Not much different from back in the 1970's

The second brewery is the Maple Leaf on Winthorpe Road. It was a malt-extract brewpub run by Allied. They had got the pub from Courage in a pub swap and installed a little brewery, I think around 1982. To be honest, it was a weird place to put a brewpub. The Maple Leaf was a fairly tatty modern pub on a council estate. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.

The brewery operated until 1986. The pub has since been demolished and replaced by housing. I've never been very impressed by a professional brewery using malt extract rather than mashing. Hell, I wouldn't even homebrew with malt extract. And their beer was easy to spot as malt extract. It had that twang all extract beers seem to have, unless you load them up with roasted grain.

Here are the beer details:

Westcrown and Maple Leaf beers 1977 - 1986
Year Brewer Beer Style package OG
1977 Westcrown Regal Bitter Pale Ale draught 1037.5
1979 Westcrown Regal Bitter Pale Ale draught 1037.5
1979 Westcrown Regal Conqueror Strong Ale draught 1072.5
1982 Maple Leaf Maple Leaf Bitter Pale Ale draught 1037
1986 Maple Leaf Maple Leaf Bitter Pale Ale draught 1037
Good Beer Guide 1978, 1980, 1983 and 1987.


Anonymous said...

I remember the Westcrown Regal, I had some at the Peacock Inn at Redmile. It was served from a wooden contraption rather than from a cask or pump but it had gone over so was undrinkable!
Regarding pubs selling strong ale, I remember the head brewer at Shipstone's saying that he'd love to brew a stronger beer but he simply wouldn't sell as much of it.At 1038 the customers would stay all night, raise the strength and they would have had enough sooner and go home.

Julian Grocock said...

Two corrections:
1) The Old Kings Arms was not the only non-tied pub in Newark in 1977. Kirrages opened in 1976 selling Ruddles County, then adding Ruddles Ordinary and Draught Bass as real ale sales took off.
2) The Old Kings Arms did stock Westcrown Regal Bitter - right from its launch. It was my pint of choice there for at least a year, probably two, and possibly until the brewery changed its name to Priory and the brand was discontinued.
You'd expect a Newark native to know this!