County Stat Attack Week 11 - Devon

Stretching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel to the south, Cornwall to the west and Somerset / Dorset to the east. Devon was part of Celtic Britain, or Celtic Breton combined with Cornwall with links to Brittany in France, right through to the Middle Ages when it was assimilated into the Kingdom of Wessex then becoming a shire of England as Devonshire.
The boundary with Cornwall is the River Tamar, almost running from coast to coast. The coasts, north & south are famous for the sandy bays and high cliffs, with the high moors of Exmoor stretching to the north of the county. The bleaker moors of Dartmoor are centre to south of the county. The rivers Teign, Exe and Dart run through to the south coast. The economy is largely based on tourism along with agriculture, primarily with Dairy farming.
The county town of Devon is the city of Exeter whilst the largest city is the historic port of Plymouth. There are many large towns in the county including the tourist hotspots of Torbay and Illfracombe and market towns of Barnstaple, Bideford and Newton Abbott.

On Ratebeer we have 62 Active Breweries and 27 now closed breweries for a total of 89. Of these 6 are Client / Commissioner Breweries.
The oldest active brewers we have on here are Beer Engine of Exeter and Summerskills of Plymouth both established in 1988. There is a brewery that is now closed but opened previous to these, Blackawton Brewery Established 1977, closed 2012. Devon doesn’t seem to have too much of a history with breweries, maybe because it’s more known for cider, but there was a brewery called Heavitree in Exeter that was established in 1790 and appears to have brewed right through to 1970 when it ceased its brewing operations and concentrated on pub ownership. It still owns a considerable stable of pubs in the South West and continues as a successful business.

The brewery with the largest range on Ratebeer is Art Brew of Sutcombe, Est 2008. We have 68 beers attributed to them.

Still working from the 2019 awards, I can promise you the 2020 awards are getting close, all we have is a best Brewer which is Hanlons of Newton St Cyres. There was no award made for Best Beer or Best Newcomer.

The Top 10 Beers / Ciders / Meads for Devon are –

  1. O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale (2003 – 2008) R
  2. Edwin Tucker’s Empress Russian Porter
  3. Otter Mild (aka Dark)
  4. O’Hanlon’s Brewers Special Reserve
  5. Sandford Orchards Vintage Cider
  6. Sandford Orchards Ice Cider
  7. Moonchild Gipsy Queen R
  8. Otter Hoppy Otter IPA (Bottled)
  9. Lyme Bay Garden Mead
  10. Luscombe Farm Organic Devon Dry Cider

Did You Know Otter Mild is the highest rated proper Mild on Ratebeer for England, the 4 Milds above it in the list are all Strong Milds at 6% or over, the Otter Mild is 3.8% and averages 3.58 on here. Not bad for a County / Brewer not normally associated with the style. I have long campaigned for Regular and Strong Milds to be separated.

The Top 5 Pubs / Bars in Devon –

  1. Bridge Inn, Topsham – 86
  2. Teign Cellars, Newton Abbott – 85
  3. Taphouse & Bottle Shop at Tuckers Maltings, Newton Abbott – 84
  4. Beer Cellar, Exeter – 81
  5. Fat Pig, Exeter – 75

There are also a couple of highly rated Beer Shops –

  1. Darts Farm, Clyst St George – 87
  2. Hops & Crafts, Exeter – 80

The Top 5 Raters of Devonshire Beers are –

  1. @imdownthepub
  2. @fonefan
  3. @downender
  4. @ManVsBeer
  5. @leaparsons

You will require a moderate 49 beers to get a place in the Top 50.

The person who resides in Devon with the most ratings is –
@6bottlepack who is currently active on Ratebeer.

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Thanks for this love Devon and have been there for a load of Holidays.

I will pull together my stats after work. Just about to embark on my commute to work. It’s about 15 paces.

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My 16th highest county as far as rates at 34. My highest rated is the aforementioned O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale (2003 - 2008) tried in 2009. Funny story that goes with this rating is that it was the second bottle of 2007 I had purchased.

Originally, I had bought a bottle to drink on my wedding night in May ‘08. As the story goes we were staying at Disney Polynesian resort in Orlando two nights before the wedding. After the family dinner the guys took me out for a bachelor party/pub crawl. Needless to say that I was in bad shape the next morning and missed the special breakfast with family and friends from out of town. I’ll add that the wife was pissed! We also were moving hotels to Shades of Green (military resort at Disney) where the wedding was to be held. Still in horrible shape during pack out and transport to the vehicle by Disney baggage attendants, I had failed to notice their fatal packing flaw. As they pulled an end bag off the trolley a plastic bag full of beer fell, it was one of those moments when time seemed to slow (maybe because of the hangover). I dove to prevent the bag from crashing to the ground, but my efforts were futile as the contents bounced off the pavement. Unfortunately, one bottle did not survive the fall. That’s correct the Thomas Hardy’s Ale. Towards. I was lucky enough to find a replacement bottle one of the last nights before heading back home to Germany. Saved that bottle for a bottle share with @fata2683.

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Devon is nice, went there and Cornwall quite a few times on family holidays as a kid. I don’t remember visiting the county as an adult though, not since I’ve been drinking beer anyway.

A paltry 4 rates for me, and sadly no Thomas Hardy’s included in those. Breweries massively lean towards the traditional side of things here so unfortunately not much of interest to me.
One surprising brewery perhaps worthy of mention though is Utopian. One of those in this new wave of modern lager breweries popping up in recent years, along with the likes of Donzoko and Lost & Grounded and numerous others. I’m not big on lagers but I had their British Lager (Helles style apparently) last year and was very impressed, though it has mixed ratings on RB. I’m keen to try some of their other offerings, lagers are a nice break from my usual diet of hoppy IPAs/DIPAs and massive stouts, especially in the summer months.

Also I’ve developed an interest in mead recently and with Lyme Bay Winery being one of the most widely available in the UK there’s a good chance of me picking up some of their wares for sampling this year. With a (not serious) aim of getting my Devon ratings into double digits at least, hopefully with more beers as well as meads.

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Oh no, a classic beer hit the dust. Sorry for your loss! :cry:

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Beautiful Devon and it looks like I am number one for the county. It’s not an easy county for gathering ratings, we go there quite a lot I suppose and I love walking the coastal paths and Exmoor. I have always found Dartmoor quite wet, bleak, foggy but still have quite a few experiences on there, usually having to follow a river down to get off, adds to the excitement. I may be top of the pile there but I only achieved 1 rating for 2020 and a big fat zero for this year so far. I’ve been to Plymouth and Exeter a few times for beer days but I think my favourite town is Newton Abbot for beer, followed by Totnes.

I have 325 Ratings for Devon taking me to first place, making it the 20th highest in my English Counties list and having an average of 3.16 per rating.

I have had beers from 58 Breweries, 16 of which have now closed unfortunately. This put me on top of that particular list too. We have another trip to South Devon coming up this year, hopefully, so I’m perhaps in with a chance of improving on this number.
The Breweries I have with the most ratings are –

  1. Hanlon’s Brewery – 22
  2. Teignworthy Brewery – 22
  3. Otter Brewery – 20
  4. Art Brew – 19
  5. Summerskills – 16

I have 15 ratings of 4 or over for Devon, the best are –

  1. Teignworthy Amy’s Ale – 4.5
  2. Wizard Mother in Law – 4.5
  3. O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale (2003 – 2008) – 4.5
  4. Art Brew Hip Hop Centennial – 4.4
  5. O’Hanlon’s Goldblade – 4.3
  6. Otter Mild (aka Dark) – 4.3

The highest rated beer on Ratebeer is the Thomas Hardy Ale from O’Hanlon’s, glad I had it when it was around.

My Breweries with the highest average rating are (min 5 Ratings) –

  1. Wizard Ales – 3.738
  2. Teignworthy Brewery – 3.427
  3. Salcombe Brewery – 3.364
  4. Scattor Rock – 3.3
  5. Hanlon’s Brewery – 3.291

I have reviewed 59 places in Devon, making it my 7th best County. My Favourites are –

  1. Beer Cellar, Exeter – 86
  2. Pursuit of Hoppiness, Exeter (Now Closed) – 84
  3. Totnes brewing Company, Totnes – 82
  4. Beer Engine, Newton St. Cyres – 80
  5. Salcombe Brewery, Ledstone Cross – 78
  6. Teign Cellars, Newton Abbot - 78
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Devon was not a county I had much interest in, until one of my brothers settled there and my parents decided to retire close to him and his family (rather than by me or my other brother, but that’s a different story). Mum & Dad now live equal distance from the North and South coast and on the ‘Two Moors Way’, the path that joins Dartmoor and Exmoor, you’ve walked passed their bungalow if you’ve done the route, my brother resides two miles from ‘Black Dog’ (guess the name of the village Pub).

Visited the county many times before the moves with football at Plymouth, Torquay and Exeter; a couple of holidays too. Been a lot more often lately (apart from 2020, just the once), my rates and place reviews have grown considerably because of this.

Strange fact; I collect walking over bridges and Devon Clappers (Clapper bridge - Wikipedia) are some of my favourite to walk on and see. I don’t actually have a list of the bridges I’ve walked on or seen, but some great memories of the ones I’ve travelled to find around the world (Sydney, San Fran, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Ironbridge, Venice, etc, etc). Helps with beer/place rating too!

Back to Devon:

107 Beer rates, my 17th highest total from England; puts me 22nd in the pecking order.

Top beers are:
O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale (2003-2008)
Hunter’s Full Bore
Red Rock Darkness
Teignworthy Martha’s Mild.

Breweries:
O’Hanlon’s & Otter on 13
Hunter’s on 11

Highest scoring are O’Hanlon’s @ 3.39, Summerskills @ 3.38 and Hunter’s @ 3.37

8 Ciders, with 5 coming from Sandford Orchards; only started rating non-beers in 2020, so nowhere has many yet.

Places:
21 Different reviews, surprised by the top three as I’ve been to most of the ‘top venues’ according to Glen’s list.
Crafty Beer Store (Barnstaple)
Imperial (a Spoons in Exeter)
Fortescue (Plymouth)

Think I’ve rattled on enough, cheers Glen!

<*))))))><

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Yes, I have done the Two Moors Way, if only I had known. Mind you that was back in 2008 I did that.

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They moved to Witheridge after then. Dad was miffed, one of the two pubs in the village closed the week he moved in.

<*))))))><

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Devon is another dud county for me with zero rates - but there is light on the horizon for me with a bottle of Bays something or other awaiting my attention in the stash, so I will shortly reach the mighty milestone of 1!

The county’s location does not lend itself well for regular visits from either my roots in North Yorkshire of current abode in Shropshire, but there have been a handful of holidays (and a cricket tour) there over the years - and I recall one year trying to tick off the Country Life pubs around Bideford, based on a challenge map in the first pub visited: failed of course, but had fun trying, and likely had a bunch of Country Life beers.

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TL:DR version: I like Devon and have fond memories.

On Ratebeer, my stats are low: 33 beers (not enough to gain top 50 status) and no place rates. My top 5 include a cider and a mead:

Green Valley Rum Tiddly Tum (Draught): 4.3
Summerskills Indianas Bones: 3.8
Exeter Darkness: 3.8
Edwin Tucker’s Empress Russian Porter: 3.8
Lyme Bay Christmas Mead: 3.7

I’ve rated a total of 12 breweries and 5 cideries (one of whom also produced the mead). My most rated brewery is Otter with 6 beers.

If I has started rating a decade earlier than I did, I would imagine I’d be fairly high up the leaderboards. I lived in Devon from 1998 to 2005, it was only the second place I’d lived in the UK. I studied at Exeter, but we also lived in Dawlish and Kingsteignton (a commuter village a couple of miles away from Newton Abbot). I worked the Newton Abbot beer festival for a few years, and got to know many the breweries quite well.

When I was a younger and fitter man, I would do a lot of walking, mostly the Teign Valley but of course Dartmoor as well as mid- and north Devon. And there usually was a pub at the end, maybe a little place only doing one or two cask ales (this is before the craft beer revolution) but a pub worth visiting. I remember walking out to the hamlet of Luton to get a jug of Reddaways cider, drinking it on the way back in the summer sun and feeling the skin on my head shrink before I barely made it back. Man, I was a fuckin mess. But good times.

My first wife and I spent a lot of time in the Bridge in Topsham, a wonderful old-fashioned pub that deservedly takes top spot in the ratings here (I think this is where I proposed but memory is hazy). We also hung out at the Great Western Hotel, rated low on RB but in the halcyon days (its apex coincided with the 2003 Rugby World Cup when they had 20 ales on) they had great beer, including a dark beer from France a couple of times which was unheard of in this neck of the woods at that time. The Great Western was the best beer pub in Exeter and possibly the county until the manager left around 2005 and it slowly went back to being decidedly average.

I also remember the places that are probably either vastly changed or closed altogether now but were great fun. Folk night at the Brook Green, near the Exeter City football ground. The tiny Wolborough Arms in Newton Abbot, only one or two beers on but to an impeccable standard. The friendly GBG standard Bishop Lacy in Chudleigh and the Flowers IPA only but quirky enough to get away with it Duke of York in Ideford.

I’ve wanted to go back since leaving in 2005, but it’s always been too awkward or expensive to justify it. Considering it last year but COVID put paid to that.

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I’ve been to Devon once since joining Ratebeer (After Rate Beer or ARB). Pre-Ratebeer (PRB) I went every summer for about 8 years, as one of my friends organised a golf weekend. At first most of the people who went were up for beers and a laugh but I stopped going when he started attracting people who actually took golf seriously and they sucked the fun out of it. So have been on beery nights out in Dartmouth, Torquay, Okehampton, etc, but BRB

ARB I have managed 35 beers from 16 breweries. Plus 4 ciders and 1 mead from 4 cideries.

My top rated beer is actually a perry:

• Farmer Jim’s Farmyard Perry 4.0
• New Lion/Wild Weather Double Chestnut Stout 3.8
• Hanlon’s Brewers Special Reserve 3.7
• New Lion Dry Hopped Stout 3.7

Breweries/Cideries:
• New Lion @ 9
• Bridgetown @ 3
• Hanlon’s @ 3
• Otter @ 3
• Lyme Bay @ 2
• One each from Ashridge, Barnaby’s, Bays, Black Tor, Branscombe, Brimblecombe’s, Dartmoor, Exeter, Farmer Jim’s, Hunter’s, Powederkeg, Salcombe, Summerskills, Totnes and Utopian.

Two years ago my cousin got married near Totnes (her mother is from a farming family down there) so we stayed a week in a cottage. I really likes Totnes and I thought it was pretty decent for beer. On the first day I dropped in at New Lion brewery. Then on day my Dad dropped me off at the Albert Inn brewpub (Bridgetown Brewery) and I made my way up the hill to the Bay Horse Inn (New Lion) via Royal Seven Stars (last stayed here when I was 8 and a page boy for an other family wedding) and Totnes Brewing Co. Was pleased to tick off all four local breweries, thanks to the Bay Horse having a Barnaby’s beer on tap. My only issue that night was that I hadn’t booked a taxi and for some reason there weren’t any available so I ended up hanging around outside the station, as a couple more people joined me in wondering where all the taxis were. The one taxi that eventually turned up took pity and ended up taking 5 people to three different destinations. The biggest let down was the fact that the riverside pub near our cottage turned out to be Greene King.

We’re thinking of going down again next summer.

Just remembered that one of my colleagues is from Torquay and was a skinhead in the 70s. His favourite cider places are all long gone apparently. The one time he and his skinhead mates cornered an away fan they then didn’t know what to do so the guy was able to walk off.

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Devon is one of my favourite places for a holiday so have been a few times.

I have 105 rates for Devon which is my 24th highest county so around half way up or down my list. These beers are from 41 breweries.

Only 2 beers scored a 4 or over.

Beer Rate
O’Hanlon’s Thomas Hardy’s Ale (2003 - 2008) 4.5
Moonchild / Totnes Couleur Café Imperial Coffee Stout 4

It surprised me, but there is no brewery I have had more than 6 beers from. The ones with 6 rates are:

  • Hunter’s Brewery
  • Exeter Brewery

Devon has the 4th highest number of places rates for me with 14.

The top places are:

Place Rate
Taphouse & Bottle Shop at Tuckers Maltings 88
Reform Inn (Barum) 76
Grapevine (Crossed Anchors) 76
Beer Cellar 76

Also wanted to shout out to Darts Farm The shop has a decent selection of local Devon beers.

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Since I joined Ratebeer last May, Devon is the only region I have visited and tried local beers. Having said that we are just talking bottles from Ladram Bay’s caravan resort shop but at least its something!

Anyway the family holiday earned me 9 rates for Devon:
4 - Sandford Orchards
3 - Black Tor
2 - Otter

None of these stand out much with my highest rating being Black Tor’s Raven @ 3.3.

I’ve been on several holidays down the years in this region, mostly in the northern part such as Woolacombe and Ilfracombe but last year discovered some of the area around Exmouth.

As an aside does anyone else think that Westward Ho! is a cracking place name.

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The only place In Britain with an exclamation mark!

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A lowly 16 rates for me, although they are from 12 different brewers, all of which were gifts from a pal of mine (nicknamed Totnes), who holidays down there every year, and has done for decades.

I’ve visited just twice whilst of drinking age, but both times pre RB.

Really enjoyed it there and have fond memories of visiting Barnstaple Pannier market where we witnessed three old dears trying to flog a solitary pair of (very well worn) shoes, and also, during an outbreak of Mad Cow Disease, having some random farmer whisper to me, “psst, wanna buy some beef? I got Devon Red beef if you want it. It’s round the back…”.

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Oh, I do have a 1999 Thomas Hardy Ale in the cellar though. Bought as a pair from Chatsworth House Farm Shop in 99. One got split between me and the missus on top of a healthy booze session, which ended with the missus turning a spectacular shade of green.

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Have 171 rates for Devon, making it my 7th highest English county, the highest rated is Find & Fosters Snicket Pet Nat 2019 & their Petillant Naturel 2019 both at 4.2. My highest rated beer for Devon is way down in 17th place being Teignworthy Russian Imperial Porter (Whisky Barrel Aged) at 3.7

Devon has alot of cideries, 56 active (compared to the 62 breweries), the most prolific are Lyme Bay Winery located in Axminster with 47 entries, and Sandford Orchards in Crediton with 40. Am top of both the Devon cider ratings with 157 and cideries rated with 33.

In terms of quality, Find & Foster cidery is the standout, they are my top ranked ahead of all other English cideries & breweries, and my 7th highest “brewery” overall, with 11 ratings giving an average of 3.95. All their bottles are 750ml wired cork style. As suggested by their name, they find old orchards and foster them for cider production, using traditional methods. See link, well worth trying if you get the chance: http://www.findandfosterfineciders.com/
Cheers!

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I think 1999 was brewed in Dorset, I’ve had that one myself and it’s gorgeous.

Ah. Oh well, I’ll bet my Dorset numbers need a tickle, anyway!

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