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County Stat Attack Week 25 - Shropshire

We complete the Welsh border counties by visiting Shropshire this week with Wales on its Western border and surrounded by Cheshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The area was populated by the Cornovii people pre Roman with remains of hill forts still to be found on the Wrekin. Roman occupation was based around Viroconium Cornoviorum, modern day Wroxeter. After the Romans retreated the area came under the influence of Welsh Powys until the 8th century when it was annexed into the Angle Kingdom of Mercia. Under the Normans the county became centred on castles at Shrewsbury and Ludlow. The border with Wales wasn’t settled until the 16th Century.

Geographically the county is split into 2 halves, the North Shropshire plain stretching from the River Severn valley to the Cheshire border and the Southern Shropshire hills and the more rural South West. Much of the industrial part of the county was centred around Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and the towns that now make up the new town of Telford. While Shrewsbury remains the county town, the largest is now Telford. Other large settlements are Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Newport and Ludlow.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 37 breweries, 21 of which remain open and 16 sadly closed. Just 4 of these are Client / Commissioner breweries.

The oldest brewery we have a record for is the Three Tuns Brewery, Brewpub of Bishops Castle (Est 1642). Although the brewery probably hasn’t brewed for the whole of the time it has been in being it remains the oldest licensed brewery site in Britain. The main building we can see now is a Victorian tower built in 1888. In 2003 the brewery was sold to John Roberts Brewing Co. since which brewing capacity has been increased to supply a larger customer base.

The Brewery with the largest range in Shropshire is Salopian Brewery of Hadnall (Est 1995) with a total of 288 beers.

In the 2020 Ratebeer awards the Best Brewery was awarded to Salopian Brewery, also the Best Beer was given to Salopian / Polly’s Brew Marches. No new Brewery award was made.

The Top 10 beers for the county are –

  1. Salopian Polygraph
  2. Salopian Kashmir
  3. Salopian Boomerang
  4. Salopian Blindspot
  5. Salopian Bulletproof
  6. Salopian Nephilim
  7. Salopian Midnight Express
  8. Salopian Aphellon
  9. Salopian Dead Drop
  10. Salopian Automaton

The Top Pubs / Bars in Shropshire are –

  1. Chez Sophie, Shrewsbury – 91
  2. Railwaymans Arms, Bridgnorth – 81
  3. Crown, Telford Oakengates – 81
  4. Cock Hotel, Telford Wellington – 79
  5. Old Fighting Cocks, Telford Oakengates – 79
  6. Moonshine and Fuggles, Ironbridge – 79
  7. Bailey Head, Oswestry – 79
  8. Tap & Can, Shrewsbury – 79.

There are also 2 highly rated beer stores in the county.

  1. Rad Beer, Hadnall – 81
  2. Sophie’s Beer Store, Shrewsbury – 80

The Top 5 Raters of Shropshire beers are –

  1. @BlackHaddock
  2. @minutemat
  3. @imdownthepub
  4. @fonefan
  5. @harrisoni

You will require just 37 beers to get into the top 50 Raters for Shropshire.

The top Rater who resides in Shropshire is
@BlackHaddock whom we all know is very active on here.

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The market town of Wellington (eaten up within Telford) has an official Ale Taster, this is a picture of him and his wife in a CAMRA beer tent at a local event. He’s a good bloke!

<*))))))><

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Wonderful picture.

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Right, my adopted county, lived here all my Ratebeerian life.

It’s a lovely county with pleasant towns like Bishops Castle, Bridgnorth and Ludlow, smashing village pubs and the county town of Shrewsbury has many beery places worth exploring. Telford (like Rome, but built on 7 settlements rather than 7 hills) is a sprawling mess to some, but there are highlights if you know where to look, beer and touristy wise.

I am Top Dog on beer rating and breweries, although @minutemat is closing in fast. I may well be the only official ‘Ale Taster’ in Shropshire, but he is the only qualified ‘Beer Sommelier’ I know of in Shropshire (he likes Cider too).

474 beers rated (@ a score of 3.33), my highest rating total for an English County, 32 different breweries (13 of them sadly closed). Of the 21 still active I’ve had 19. Not too sure Swan Walters & Son are actually still brewing; no one has ever rated a beer of theirs on here and the last entry on Untappd was March 2020. Can’t find anything about them, but hope they surface again now pubs are opening up.

Cider is getting BIG in Shropshire, I’ve only had two so far though, but from different producers (plus Hobsons offerings).

Top Beers
Hobsons Shropshire Stout
Joules Slumbering Monk
Ironbridge Wenlock Stout Oak Aged
Rowton Jim’s Special Reserve Portly Stout

Looks like Stout is my thing for local beers!

Most Beers
Salopian 89
Rowton 43
Woods 39
Hobsons 33
Ironbridge & Wrekin 30 (closed)
Joules 25
Six Bells 24 (closed)
Dickensian 17 (closed)

Top Breweries score wise
Hop & Stagger
Hobsons
New Brew
Rowton

Surprised, would never have thought that two of those would be around the top.

I’ve reviewed 101 places, by far the largest total of places in England, the top four being:

Cock Hotel (currently being refurbished by the new owners, Joules Brewery)
Chez Sophie
Sophie’s Beer Store
Coracle Micropub

If you’ve never visited the county please do, and if you have, please return.

<*))))))><

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A measly 16. Because of Salopian, I expected it to be higher, and if that did not exist, I would be on 3!

Salopian Lullaby 3.8 3.59 3/21/2018
Salopian Kashmir 3.7 3.73 5/14/2017
Salopian Automaton 3.7 3.63 9/6/2017
Salopian Aubade 3.7 3.31 12/11/2019
Salopian Meraki 3.6 3.48 1/11/2018

It’s a brewery that likes an unusual name and I seem to rate its beers higher than my peers. In contrast the only Woods beer I tried (Ebony) was possibly on the turn. I will seek out some more Salopian.

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Lovely, but remote Shropshire, we have managed to get over there on quite a few occasions over the years. Probably the most memorable visit was cutting across the county on my Lands End to John O’Groats walk, working my way from Offa’s Dyke near Knighton, through the Shropshire Hills via Clun, The Long Mynd, Church Stretton, Wenlock Edge etc, crossing into Staffordshire at Penkridge. Another highlight was meeting up with @minutemat, @BlackHaddock and @Martinsh at Chez Sophies, we were certainly well looked after that day and a good time was had. I have visited Shrewsbury on several occasions and also Bridgnorth and Ironbridge pubs. Aiming to do Offa’s Dyke again soon.

Sports-wise very little other than the walk I suppose. I have been to Gay Meadow, great name for a Football Ground, can’t remember much about it, I think I got a lift there and back.

I currently have 218 beers from Shropshire placing me in 3rd position for the county, firmly behind the ‘homers’ that have overtaken me in recent years. Covid hasn’t been kind to my Shropshire rating count finding them really difficult to get hold of at present. Shropshire is my 30th highest County in beer counts. The beers for Shropshire average a moderate 3.27. I am 4th highest in the number of Breweries with just 22 of them, 8 of which are now closed.

The Breweries I have had most from are –

  1. Salopian Brewery – 91
  2. Woods brewery – 23
  3. Hobsons Brewery – 17
  4. Joules Brewery – 11
  5. Six Bells Brewery (Closed) – 9
  6. Wem Brewery (Closed) – 9

I have rated 7 beers with a score of 4 or over –

  1. Salopian Vertigo – 4.2
  2. Salopian Sienna – 4.1
  3. Blackwater Expressionist – 4.1
  4. Hobsons Town Crier – 4
  5. Ludlow The Boiling Well – 4
  6. Blackwater Rustler – 4
  7. Salopian Pecadillo – 4

My Shropshire Breweries with the highest Averages (5+ beers) –

  1. Ludlow Brewing – 3.533
  2. Salopian Brewing – 3.447
  3. Hobsons brewery – 3.361

I have only reviewed 18 places in Shropshire, could have sworn I had done more, my favourites being –

  1. Salopian Bar, Shrewsbury (Now Closed) – 82
  2. Tap & Can, Shrewsbury – 82
  3. RAD Beer, Hadnall – 78
  4. White Lion Inn (Hop & Stagger), Bridgnorth – 74
  5. White Horse Inn, Clun – 74
  6. Loggerheads, Shrewsbury – 74
  7. Old Fighting Cocks, Oakengates – 74

I didn’t review the wonderful Chez Sophies in Shrewsbury which would have had a great score.

I believe a quick re-visit to Bridgnorth is coming up soon, looking forward to that. I would re-iterate what Jeremy says, Shropshire is a lovely county and is well worth a visit.

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At the risk of making @BlackHaddock smug, I have to say that Shropshire is lovely, both for the scenery and the towns - one of the favourite counties I’ve had the pleasure to visit

Sadly I haven’t done too well beerwise there to date, having had just 17 Shropshire brews (in the bottom 10 for numbers of beers rated for me).

My highest rated beers are:

I’ve had beers from 8 different breweries (3 of which are now sadly closed). I’ve rated Salopian most often - 8 beers from them.

I’ve rated four places, of which Chez Sophie was my favourite - absolutely loved that place ( thanks @minutemat !).

Aside from beer, I’ve had long weekends in Shrewsbury two or three times, plus I’ve stopped in the county a number of times on the way through to north Wales.

Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth (with its cliff railway) are really lovely towns; I haven’t yet had a chance to visit the acclaimed town of Ludlow, but really must do that some time as it’s meant to be the “food capital” of England.

Tourist attraction-wise, I’m not normally into industrial heritage, but the Ironbridge Gorge and Blists Hill Victorian Town are really quite something and I’d recommend a visit to both.

However, for me the highlight is the hills of southern Shropshire. The highest point is Brown Clee Hill, rising 540m above the Severn floodplain and with stunning views (albeit with a top marred by radio masts). However, I preferred walking on the Long Mynd, with the gorgeous approach up the valleys out of Church Stretton, and the fine airy ridge at the top.

My avatar picture was actually taken on The Wrekin - an impressive standalone hill that is the highest point of the Breakaway Republic of Telford and Wrekin (now a separate unitary authority from the rest of Shropshire; I have visions of Wellington’s official Ale Taster leading the protests marches prior to gaining independence). Climbing the Wrekin was particularly memorable as there was a cloud inversion - from the top in brilliant sunshine we could see the summits of all the Shropshire Hills poking out above the sea of white cloud below - absolutely beautiful!

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Swan Walters is the house beer of the Blood Bay in Ludlow. I think they actually commission from other brewers. But since mobile phones are strictly banned in the pub, it’s difficult to find out more !

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Shropshire is of course Lone Pine Club country to those in the know. When I was a kid my Dad picked up most of that series of books for me in second-hand shops because they’d been his favourites when he was a youngster.

I’ve been to Shropshire a few times because one of my godfathers lives in the county. However the last time was when I was about 14.

13 beers – the only respectable score being 3.7 for Woods Christmas Cracker.

Breweries:

Evolution – 5
Hobsons – 3
Salopian – 2
Joules, Stonehouse, Woods - 1

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Mystery solved. All the beers on here specify brewed at Ludlow or Swan :grin:

https://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/swan-walters-son/36798/

Do you mean the RB brewery page ?

https://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/swan-walters-and-son/36798/

That says most beers are actually brewed at Swan Breewery in Leominster

Edited it slightly before you responded!

Salopian is a solid brewery.

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My tally is 31 rates from Shropshire, 15 of which are from Salopian, and top rated is shared by Salopian Kashmir, Salopian Polygraph and a cider Old Fekkars Wandering William all on 3.8.

The only place I’ve rated in Shropshire is Moonshine & Fuggles a beer shop at Ironbridge, from a family holiday around there afew years back in 2015 (my father-in-law was from Telford).

In terms of cider, there are 12 active cideries, with Mahorall Farm and Renshaw having the most ciders available with 7 each

For the top 5 lists for raters of Shropshire cideries and ciders it’s not a surprise to see that minutemat is at the top of both lists

ShropshireCider Ratings

ShropshireCideries

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Shropshire – one of my favourite counties. Rating wise I’m down in the doldrums with only 15 beers rated from just 4 breweries. Salopian 8, Joules 4, the rest nowhere.

Salopian also dominates ratingswise with all my top 3, including the divine Polygraph.

Salopian Polygraph 4.5
Salopian Meraki 4.2
Salopian Daylight Suspended 4

Not too keen on Salopian’s mainstream range – Lemon Dream is yuck ! But some gorgeous stuff in their “black” range. And also some downright rubbish I have to say

Looking at my own records, I have a total of 162 beers from Shropshire from 22 different breweries (including Swan Walters !). Again dominated by Salopian

Salopian 68
Wood 16
Joules 14
Three Tuns 10

As for places, I’ve only rated one place in Shropshire, and that’s somewhere hardly worth bothering about. Am looking forward to visiting Shrewsbury and getting a lot more place rates.

IMHO Shrewsbury has a lot of good pubs, but (apart from Sophies) no outstanding ones. Of other places I’ve heard good reports about Oakengates, and Ludlow has some delightfully strange pubs. I’ve already mentioned the Blood Bay (a timewarp back to the 1930s), but the Dog Hangs Well and Aritsan Ales are also well up there in the strangeness stakes…

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Shropshire is my adopted home county (I’ve adopted it, they’ve not adopted me though), I’ve lived here for approaching 30 years, and have pretty much all of the hallmark characteristics of a Shroppy Mon (except the accent) although will never be considered one. It’s my 3rd highest region (behind West Yorkshire & Greater London) with 19 rates, 8 of those coming from Salopian, from a total of 8 breweries (and 1 cidery). I’ve also rated 4 places, which for me is outstanding! Shropshire is a lovely county, if perhaps a little behind the times in certain parts - the landscape is breathtaking in places, and there are some lovely market towns with a variety of traditional and curious pubs. I think I must have had a premonition that it was coming up for its week in the limelight as I took the time at the weekend to check my UT records and see how much of a Salopian fanboy I am - and yes, I am, with 110 of their beers imbibed over the years. In total I’ve had 281 Shropshire beers, from 26 breweries (9 of them now closed) so if I had used this site properly over the years I’d be bang up the table. Really looking forward to the local pubs reopening properly, and in particular the Salopian Bar, which closed due to flooding in January 2020, but has had a refurb, with extra space being acquired from a neighbouring property - think a day off on Monday 17th May is in order, few pints in there and then a stroll over to Tap & Can to check on their reopening too. It’s the little things in life that get your through the days

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I do find it interesting in hindsight that I have managed to tick most English counties despite only having place ratings for six counties. (I’ve visited or been through a couple more pre-Ratebeer).

Of 7 ratings my main sources were bottles brought back to Canada by DuctTape, two sampled in Scotland. The last being a lovely pub lunch at Hare and Billet in Blackheath after visiting Greenwich Observatory.

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Shropshire is an odd one for me. With a lot of the counties we’ve done, I’ve been a bit surprised as to how high my rates are. With Shropshire it is the opposite; I really expected to have considerably more rates than the paltry 49 I have (although it is enough to put me at number 39 in the leaderboard).

I’ve had no beer from the county over the last 12 months except for the Salopian stout I had as my first pint in a pub after the partial easing in April. Coincidentally, the last pint I had in a pub before Lockdown 1 was a Salopian porter…

And this is another thing, Shropshire for me are about Salopian. They account for more than half of the county’s rates (26), with Joules in second place at 6 then followed by Hobsons, Hop & Stagger and Stonehouse at 3 each. And my top beers are:

Salopian Polygraph 4.4
Salopian / Celt Experience Sentinel 4.3
Salopian Oracle 3.9
Salopian Darwin’s Origin 3.9
Salopian Vertigo 3.9
Stonehouse Pollinator 3.8

I’ve racked up 14 place rates in Shropshire as well, from a trip to Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth trip in 2015 and a CAMRA trip just before lockdown. I even got one (the online Sophie’s Beer Store) during lockdown - one of four places rates in the last 12 months!

My top places are

Chez Sophie (Shrewsbury) 86
Bailey Head (Oswestry) 84
Sophie’s Beer Store (Shrewsbury but online) 84
Bastion Ale House (Oswestry) 76

Still a lot to discover in Shropshire I am sure.

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Just a footnote.

If coming from the North the little town of Whitchurch is worth a visit, if old pubs and Real Ale are your thing, the town hasn’t been mentioned by anyone yet.

<*))))))><

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Thanks for the tip. Whitchurch wasn’t really on my radar but it may be worth a gander, although I’m coming from the wrong direction.

1 Like




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