Tuesday 2 April 2024

More Black Country

We get back to our hotel just before 16:00. And check into our rooms. Which are down a gloomy corridor. Doesn’t look that great.

Inside, the room is lovely. With a really good, modern bathroom. The approach really doesn’t sell the rooms. Not that I stay in mine very long. As I’m meeting Mike downstairs for a drink. Maybe a beer.

They have five cask beers: Lump Hammer Ruby Mild (3.7%), Bitter (3.6%) and Gold (4.2%); Sledge Hammer Pale Ale (5.2%) and Vumpy $.3%). A fairly decent range. And quite similar to what Holden’s offer. Heartening to see cask Mild again.

Who brews them? They seem to have started at Broughs Brewery in Wolverhampton. But they appear closed. Next, they were made by Dig Brew in Birmingham. Only for them also to close in 2023. It’s very confusing.

Chris Quinn, owner of the Beer Temple in Chicago, has flown in to join us. He’s looking remarkably chipper, considering he’s flown across the Atlantic and taken three trains to get here.

We have a few beers. Suddenly, we’re all hungry. Weird, that. What could we possibly eat in a pie factory?

“Pasta, everyone?” I ask, sarcastically.

It’s pies all around. Lamb and mint sauce for me. On the recommendation of the barmaid.

When the pies arrive, I see that Chris’s steak and kidney is a pudding. A proper suet pudding. Shit. I would have had that, if I’d known it was a suet pudding. Not even my pie-Nazi son Andrew could complain about that.

[“Not that stupid lid thing.” Is Andrew’s verdict on my pie.]

My pie is pretty nice. Maybe a little heavy on the mint sauce, even for me. Decent chips. Could have done with some mushy peas.

Food eaten, and another pint or two drunk, adventure time begins. When we journey to Brierley Hill. And the Batham’s brewery tap, the Vine. Which has a similar feel to the Beacon Hotel. With several small, discrete rooms.

Mild for me, obviously. I really like it. Too sweet for Mike. For me: a bit on the sweet side, but depth of flavour. Very drinkable, too.

Mike isn’t any happier with the Bitter, which he also finds too sweet. Which is a shame, as the Mild is going down a treat. He’d be happier with Holden’s.

“What about the Park Inn?” I suggest.

“Sounds good.”

It’s Holden’s brewery tap. And where it started. As I suspected, as a brewery attached to the pub. In a really weird year: 1915. That’s when pub breweries were closing, not opening.

It’s very brightly lit. A full range of their cask beers, though. Mild, Bitter, Golden Glow and Special. All well under four quid a pint. Mild in every pub, so far, in the Black Country.

An oldish crowd again. Some youngsters, though. Footy on the telly. And a bloke standing at the bar that looks like Noddy Holder. As he is now, not a young Noddy Holder.

Things are starting to catch up with Chris. Lack of sleep, long drinking session. Little things like that.

We leave at throwing out time.

Just time for a quick hotel whisky back in my room.

Mad O'Rourke's Pie Factory
Hurst Lane, Tipton,
West Midlands DY4 9AB

The Vine Inn
10 Delph Rd.,
Brierley Hill DY5 2TN.

The Park Inn
George St,
Dudley DY1 4LW. 

Disclosure: my travel and all expenses were paid by Goose Island.


Anonymous said...

I would always go for mild ale or dry stout over pale ale.


Christoph Riedel said...

Just now deciding where to go next for holidays and your post really makes me consider the Black Country. Have never been there, but the beer sounds great. Especially the Cask Mild.