Skip to main content

Goat Milks It as Tiger Fades Away....

A new Supreme Champion Beer is crowned, as a long-established beer moves to a new home....

This week the Great Beer Festival has been taking place at Olympia in London, and, as is the tradition, voting took place to decide the best beers, with one of them being chosen as overall Supreme Beer of Britain. And this year, following the success of Bingham's Vanilla Stout in 2016, it was another beer from the Midlands which scooped the prestigious title.

This time it was Goat's Milk, a well-balanced 3.8% pale bitter from the Church End Brewery which is situated between Nuneaton and Coleshill. Whilst it has been around for quite a while - the brewery dates back to 1994 when it was set up in an old coffin shop in the village of Shustoke - I think it is fair to say that Church End, whose beers often have church-related names such as Vicar's Ruin and Fallen Angel, has been somewhat under the radar compared to some more publicity-minded breweries, which makes the win all the more pleasing.

In the early days the brewery tap was the Griffin pub in Shustoke, about which I wrote about a year or two ago here, although the brewery is now based in the village of Ridge Lane where it brews a comprehensive range of beers including regular specials on a 20 barrel plant. The on-site Brewery Tap is open Thursday through to Sunday, and they have another pub, The George and Dragon in Stoke Golding, near Hinckley in Leicestershire, the village having the claim to fame that Henry VII was crowned as the first Tudor monarch here following his defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth field. Church End beers also appear from time to time in the free trade, and over the years Goat's Milk has often been found on the bar at the King's Head, Huddersfield.

Meanwhile, another Midlands brewery, Everards, has also been in the news of late following its decision to decommission its current brewery in Narborough, Leicestershire, so it can concentrate on running its pub estate. Whilst it plans to open a smaller brewery alongside new offices it is planning to build on a smaller site nearby, the fact is that this will not have the capacity to brew all its beer itself. And so Robinsons and Joules are stepping in to brew on their behalf, with Robbies picking up their flagship Tiger Bitter. Now Tiger is a beer I have always enjoyed, even though it doesn't match my normal preference for pale and hoppy beers. Unusually for my area it has been an almost permanent feature for the past few years on the bar of the Dusty Miller at Hove Edge, where landlord Rob has always kept this mid-brown 4.2% bitter sweet ale in tip top form, and with the Dusty being only a few minutes walk from home, I have enjoyed many a pint of it over the years. A few weeks ago Rob announced that Admiral Taverns were changing distribution partners to Kuehne + Nagel, and as Tiger was not on their list of beers, he would not be able to get it any more.

So Everards join a growing list of established brewers who have given up brewing to focus on their pubs, a list including Thwaites, Charles Wells, and before them Youngs. Most regular drinkers say that their beers never taste the same when they are brewed elsewhere, and anyone who remembers the Tetleys of 20 or 30 years ago when it was still brewed in Leeds will attest that the current Wolverhampton version is a mere shadow of the original. Everards say they have already been supplying Robinsons-brewed Tiger alongside their own brews with no comments from customers, but time will tell.

The other concern is of course the loss of another part of our brewing heritage, not to say the 27 jobs that Everards will be shedding as part of these changes. OK, there are well over 1,500 breweries now in the UK, so why should we bother? Well, increasingly a larger share of the brewing capacity is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and let's not forget there are vast swathes of the country that don't have the number of free houses and choice that some of us almost take for granted.

But for now, let's raise a glass of Goat's Milk and applaud Church End's success....

All smiles: Paul Hamblett of Church End
(Image courtesy of CAMRA)

The full list of winners from the GBBF 2017 is here


Popular posts from this blog

The Best Buffet Bar None....

One place I am definitely looking forward to visiting again when they re-open is the Buffet Bar in Stalybridge. And whilst it will be great to pay a visit as soon as it is possible, that first visit back to the famous bar on the Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield trans-Pennine route will no doubt stir up in me a huge dose of mixed emotions.... Stalybridge Buffet Bar is one of the few remaining Victorian railway station buffet bars left in the country, and is probably the best-known. I started visiting the bar regularly in 2006, when my job meant I was working about a mile and a half away in Hyde. Back in those days, the bar was owned by John Hesketh, who had spotted the potential of the rambling old Victorian station buffet as a real ale mecca. It had originally opened in 1885, and had meandered on over the years quietly serving customers on the trans-Pennine route, but back then it was not known for its beer. John's idea of a good selection of real ales in an atmospheric bar cr

The Town That Thinks It's A Village....

My time has been a bit limited recently for venturing too far afield, so last weekend I made the short journey to Elland to check out a few of the town's pubs and bars. Here's what I found.... Elland is a small market town in West Yorkshire, located between Halifax and Huddersfield beside the River Calder. It goes back a bit, being recorded as Elant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and over the centuries the town grew as a result of the woollen industry, with the town becoming home to several large mills. The coming of the Aire and Calder Navigation and the railways further helped the growth of the town. The subsequent decline of the woollen industry in the town meant that there were a number of empty mills left standing, and those that didn't burn down were put to other use, such as the home of Gannex, the now-defunct textile company whose raincoats were worn by the rich and famous, including former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. More recently, several mills have been converte

A Calder Valley Ale Trail - UPDATE August 2020

T he definitive guide to the pubs and bars that line the railways in the towns and villages of the beautiful Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, now with an update in light of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.... August 9th, 2020. The idea for a guide to the pubs along the railway line along the Calder Valley came about as I got fed up with people going on about the Ale Trail from Huddersfield to Stalybridge. I reckoned that the scenery along the Calder Valley was generally more attractive than its southerly rival, and whilst there were some excellent pubs along that route, there were equally some mighty fine pubs in Calderdale. And there was clearly a demand for such a guide: the number of page views I have had for this blog, which has been updated a few times over the years, is several times higher than my next most popular. I had been thinking for some time though that it needed a fresh look and a re-write; the inserted sentences and deleted entries means that it doesn't quite flow