The Moon Under Water

Today is the 70th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell’s essay on the perfect pub “The Moon Under Water” in the London Evening Standard (9 February 1946). Here’s a link to the full text, which is short and ell worth a read. http://theorwellprize.co.uk/…/essays-…/the-moon-under-water/

The briefest possible summary of Orwell’s prescription is good ale, good conversation, friendly staff and different areas for different purposes. As pubs continue to close at the rate of 27 per week, how many of them are closing because they lack one or more of these key characteristics?

Orwell admits his perfect pub didn’t exist even then. What’s your recipe for the perfect pub, and which Shropshire pub comes closest to it?

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Pub of the Year Presentation 2015

Bank Holiday Saturday, the start of the Prince Of Wales, Shrewsbury, Spring and Summer Beer Festival, and the presentation of the certificates for Branch Pub of the Year and Shrewsbury Pub of the Year to licensees Ian Payne and Vicki Price and the team (unfortunately Vicki was unwell and unable to join us).

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit this wonderful pub soon if you haven’t done so already.  It’s a great place, particularly in the summer when it’s rear terrace Overlooking the bowling green) comes into its own.

Ian Payne receiving the certificates, with staff, regulars and CAMRA volunteers

Ian Payne receiving the certificates, with staff, regulars and CAMRA volunteers

Ian Payne with the certificates

Ian Payne with the certificates

Ian and Kerry Williams, of Tanners (Tanners helped the Prince of Wales buy out their tie).

Ian and Kerry Williams, of Tanners (Tanners helped the Prince of Wales buy out their tie).

Well I would, WOODn’t you? 2015

Friday 15 May, and the intrepid CAMRA bus headed off to Wood Brewery in Wistanstow to celebrate 35 years of brewing, and for the first tour of the brewery for some time.

James Owens, Ed Wood, and Sam Hale from Wood Brewery

James Owens, Ed Wood, and Sam Hale from Wood Brewery

After a warm welcome by James Owens, Ed Wood (head brewer) and Same Hale (Assistant Brewer) we inspected first the equipment, and then the product!

The equipment has been assembled and extended in several stages, as is normal with smaller artisan breweries.  The boil uses stem heating.  The brewery produces a stable range of traditional beers which are well known in Shropshire and occasionally beyond as they sometimes supply Wetherspoons, and have a full offering of seasonal beers.  They are keen to use British hops including newer and even experimental hops as in their latest offering, Sheer Folly.

The product inspected in the brewery consisted f two new beers, Chestnut Mild (the official 35 years brew) and the aforementioned Sheer Folly (named after and providing funds to nearby Flounders Folly).  The Branch were more than happy to raise a glass to our hosts.

Members of Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA raising a glass to Wood Brewery in thanks for a great tour

Members of Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA raising a glass to Wood Brewery in thanks for a great tour

We then adjourned to the adjacent Plough Inn, where we were served a further selection of Wood beers and some wonderful (no pun intended) food.  Well worth a visit on its own, even if Ed and co. are too busy to show you round.

Wood beers can be bought direct from the brewery or through their website http://www.woodbrewery.co.uk/

Pub of the Year 2015

Shrewsbury and West Shropshire’s Pub of The Year to Receive Certificates as Beer Festival Opens

Prince of Wales (1 of 3)

The Prince of Wales in Bynner Street

The Prince of Wales, in Bynner Street, Shrewsbury will be presented with its certificates for Shrewsbury and West Shropshire Pub of the Year and Shrewsbury Pub of the Year on Saturday 23 May.

The presentation will take place at 1pm, and will mark the start of the Prince of Wales’ Spring into Summer beer festival.

Prince of Wales (3 of 3)

All involved are looking forward to popular landlady Vicki joining partner Ian, David and all the team as she has been poorly recently and is currently in hospital.  Vicki is pictured here with former Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA Branch Chair, Keith Davies, at an earlier festival in the pub.

The Spring into Summer Festival will continue on Sunday and Monday of the late Spring Bank Holiday Weekend.  There will be more than 20 real ales (all on handpull) and ciders from Shropshire and across the country, including some of the pub’s favourites and some surprises.

If you haven’t been to the Prince of Wales before, you will be astounded at the warm welcome, good ale, community spirit, and the stupendous outdoor area including terrace and crown bowling green.  It will certainly repay your visit many times over.  More details of the pub can be found on WhatPub, CAMRA’s national database of pubs, hotels and clubs.  Link to WhatPub – Prince of  Wales  The pub’s website is here and will shortly have details of the festival beer list.

The Haughmond, Upton Magna 2015

The Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA Beer Bus visited the Haughmond, along with other real ale pubs east and north-east of Shrewsbury, on 24 April.  For more information on the Beer Bus and other beer quality monitoring trips, visit Pub Trip Treats.

HaughmondExternal1

In the article you can get to following this link One Year On…. the new(ish) licensees describe their experiences in the first year since they opened and their plans for the future.  As well as restoring a shop to the village, they’ve just about finished a very pleasant beer garden (although the view from the beer garden is of the Wrekin rather than Haughmond Hill, which can be seen from the front of the pub).

HaughmondExternal

Market Town Pub of The Year Presentation 2015

The Black Bear in Whitchurch has a double reason to celebrate, having won both Market Town Pub of the Year and Runner-up in the overall competition.  Here at Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA, we hope these awards bring even more dedicated fans for this superb pub.

Thanks to Mark, Ellie, Phil and the rest of the team for a superb welcome on Tuesday, and congratulations on your richly deserved success.

Mark, Phil and Ellie receive the certificates for Market Town PoTY and Runner-up in the overall competition

Mark, Phil and Ellie receive the certificates for Market Town PoTY and Runner-up in the overall competition

The Black Bear sits in Whitchurch’s High Street, just across from the eponymous white church (St Alkmund’s – white not longer, alas…)  The WhatPub entry is Black Bear, Whtchurch

Bill Bainbridge Trophy Presentation 2015

We’re pleased to announce that AtWill Pubs are the first recipients of the Bill Bainbridge Trophy for the preservation of real ale in Shrewsbury and West Shropshire.  The trophy was awarded in recognition of AtWill’s rescue and refurbishment of the Cock and Greyhound in Bargates, Whitchurch, which had been empty for some time and was heading for dereliction, a fate which has sadly befallen the Horse and Jockey on the other side of St Alkmund’s church.

AtWill not only rescued the building, they have installed a new and enthusiastic team, and keep a good range of ales.

Ed Atkinson (Manging Director) and Sophie Bartley (Manager, Cock & Greyhound) receiving the Bill Bainbridge Trophy certificate with CAMRA members

Ed Atkinson (Manging Director) and Sophie Bartley (Manager, Cock & Greyhound) receiving the Bill Bainbridge Trophy certificate with CAMRA members

The refurbishment includes one of the most quirky pub ceilings in Shropshire, composed entirely of old doors, and a wonderful new rear patio.

A ceiling of doors!

A ceiling of doors!

The Cock and Greyhound from its new patio

The Cock and Greyhound from its new patio

Bill Bainbridge was a semi retired lawyer who rescued the Three Tuns Brewery in Bishops Castle.  When Bill died last year, Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA and Three Tuns Brewery created the Bill Bainbridge Trophy to celebrate organisations and individuals who, like Bill, are committed to saving traditional British ales for the nation.

Shrewsbury Beer Festival Poppy Appeal Presentation 2015

During the 2014 Shrewsbury Beer Festival, we raffled beer donated by Wood Brewery for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. On Wednesday past we handed over the cheque in The Square in Shrewsbury.  Thanks to Ed and James for donating the beer, Digby, Judith and Becky for selling tickets (and Becky for making the arrangements for the presentation), and the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal for all the wonderful work they do.

Oswestry’s Black Lion wins Runner Up in Market Towns Pub of The Year 2015

Members of the branch visited The Black Lion in Oswestry to present licensee Terry with the certificate for achieving Runner Up in the Shrewsbury and West Shropshire CAMRA Market Town Pub of The Year Competition.

CAMRA members nominate their favourite pubs in three categories, Shrewsbury Pub, Rural Pub and Market Town Pub, selecting only nine in total from amongst the 280+ in our half of the county.  The top three in each category are then judged by independent judges according to CAMRA national judging criteria, with awards being made for each category and for overall winner.

The pub came under new management in May 2013.  It’s great to see a relatively new team rewarded for their enthusiasm and commitment in such a short time, and reflects Terry’s dedication to service and to real ale.  The pub not only serves great beer, it serves as a community hub.  Look out for their Brewery of the Month promotion.

The WhatPub entry for The Black Lion is http://whatpub.com/pubs/SHR/4563/black-lion-oswestry and if you’re planning a visit to Oswestry you can look at some of the nearby pubs from the same page.

Stonehouse Brewery Visit 2015

Thanks to Shane and Alison Parr, who invited us, Becky Ransley, who organised the bus and sorted names and finance, and Ollie and Kyle who looked after us on the night, Shrewsbury and West Shropshire Branch  visited Stonehouse Brewery on Friday, 17 April.

As always, we were made very welcome and had a great time.  It’s particularly nice to see the outside areas developing, with the new orchard trees becoming more established.  Speaking of which, it was the first visit with new ciders were on the bar.  They are well worth seeking out. Available in medium and dry, although to my palette I would have said medium sweet and medium dry, they are both 6.2% ABV with good condition.  This batch was produced with apples bought in from commercial producers and pressed on site.  The first batch from home produced apples will be available in three years from now, or possibly two with luck.

Both ciders have a clean refreshing taste, neither as challenging nor as complicated as some other local producers.  I think they would make a great introduction to real cider for those currently limited to fizzy keg muck.  Which is also true of Stonehouse’s other keystone product, Station Bitter – great for weaning drinkers off nitro-keg and onto the good stuff.

Stonehouse Brewery hospitality suite is open to the public most Fridays until 7pm, and products can be purchased direct from the brewery almost every day.  Best to check by phone  first, though.