County Stat Attack Week 33 - Staffordshire

This week takes us back into the West Midlands and a county that includes the spiritual home of British brewing. At one point one quarter of all beer sold in Britain was produced in Burton on Trent. Landlocked and centrally located it is a county much reduced in size after the annexation of the Black Country to the West Midlands. The largest haul of Anglo Saxon Gold was discovered in Staffordshire showing its importance at the centre of Mercia. The moorland areas of Cannock chase are within its borders also the Peak District is to the North of the county. Staffordshire is home to the highest village in Britain with Flash.
The principal towns and cities in the county are Stoke on Trent (the largest) then Lichfield, Stafford, Burton on Trent, Cannock and Newcastle under Lyme.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 58 Breweries, 45 currently active and 13 closed. Of these 7 are Client / Commissioner Breweries.

The oldest still active Brewery we have on Ratebeer is Marston’s of Burton on Trent (Est 1834), which was actually taken over by Wolverhampton & Dudley Brewery but the name Marston’s was taken on, the company has recently merged with Carlsberg UK. The brewery had a relatively slow growth until it was moved to the Albion Brewery in 1898. It was one of the many breweries taking advantage of the particular water type where the gypsum gives a deep flavour and crisp bitterness. Of the many Burton Breweries that traded on the Burton location the more famous would be Bass and Ind Coope. Bass (Est 1777), now owned by Molson Coors, was by 1877 the largest Brewery in the world, supplying much of the British Empire. They have the oldest British trademark, which is still in use. Ind Coope can be traced back to 1799 when Edward Ind bought the Star Brewery in Romford, later to be moved to Burton and amalgamated with Coope Brewery. Both breweries lost their identities with the many mergers and buy outs to hit the brewing industry.

In the Ratebeer awards for 2020 the Best Brewery was awarded to Titanic Brewery of Stoke on Trent (Est 1985). The Best beer was Marston’s Owd Roger, no award for new Brewery was made.

The Top 10 Beers in Staffordshire are –

  1. Bass P2 / Czars Imperial Stout R
  2. Bass No 1 / Kings Ale R
  3. Lymestone Stone Dead
  4. Titanic Iron Curtain Russian Stout
  5. Beowulf Killer Stout
  6. Titanic Plum Porter Grand Reserve
  7. Museum Bullion
  8. Titanic Cappuccino Stout
  9. Burton Bridge Empire Pale Ale
  10. Beowulf Dragon Smoke Stout

The Top Bars / Pubs in Staffordshire are –

  1. Coopers Tavern, Burton on Trent – 89
  2. Burton Bridge Inn, Burton on Trent – 84
  3. Den Engel, Leek - 77
  4. Fountain Inn, Leek – 76
  5. White Star (Titanic), Stoke on Trent – 76
  6. Hop Inn, Newcastle under Lyme – 76
  7. Beerbohm, Lichfield – 76

There are also highly rated Bottle Shops in the county –

  1. Simply Local, Burtonwood – 91
  2. Otter’s Tears, Stoke on Trent – Burslem – 83
  3. Bottle Craft, Stoke on Trent – Hanley – 80

The Top 5 Raters of Staffordshire Beers are –

  1. @imdownthepub
  2. @leaparsons
  3. @fonefan
  4. @DJMonarch
  5. @BlackHaddock

The Rater who resides in Staffordshire with the most overall Ratings is –
@Towey1989 who we unfortunately haven’t seen rating since Feb 2020.

The highest currently rating is @jrh2254

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Sadly Otters Tears will close in the next couple of weeks, Phil (owner) is moving to Herefordshire, however, there is some good news, he will continue with Otters Tears albeit with an online presence only.

Also not sure if many of you are aware but the name Otters Tears actually came from a Ratebeer guy and legend Simon Johnson @haddonsman ako Reluctant Scooper who sadly passed away a number of years ago now. Phil owner of Otters Tears was inspired by Simons Craft Beer Manifesto, which although written 9 years ago is still as funny and accurate now as it was then. Link to Otters Tears and background and link to the Craft Beer Manifesto below.

http://reluctantscooper.blogspot.com/2012/02/craft-beer-manifesto.htmlmns

That link is playing up so here is the Craft Beer Manifesto

# The Craft Beer Manifesto

For the record.

If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks and shags and scaups like a duck, then it’s a duck.

Craft beer is where you find it. Where you find it depends on how you define it.

How you define it? That’s your call.

There will never - never - be agreement in the UK as to what ‘craft beer’ really means.

So let’s just drink good beer and have some fun.

The Craft Beer Manifesto started on Twitter one bored morning when I was achingly tired by the excess PR of certain mediocre brewers. You may interpret this manifesto as having a pop at particular organisations and individuals. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Because if it sounds like a dick, acts like a dick, tweets and blogs and brews like a dick, then it’s a dick.

THE CRAFT BEER MANIFESTO.

1: Only use distilled otter’s tears

2: Use only barley that’s been warmed by the breath of kindly owls

3: Craft beer cares, so only use hops that have been flown halfway around the world

4: You can have it any colour you like, as long as it’s not brown. Unless its an Indian Brown Ale

5: Beards allowed only if they’re ironic

6: It’s not “inconsistent”, it’s “experimental”

7: It’s not “hiding faults”, it’s “barrel-ageing”

8: It’s not “gone off”, it’s “challenging preconceptions of sour beer”

9: Ensure that the branding costs more than the brewhouse

10: Collaborate every month with an international brewer, a blogger, a celebrity & a musician

11: There are only seven ingredients in Craft Beer: hops, malt, water, yeast, YouTube, Twitter & Facebook

12: Our over-riding mantra - Craft Beer Is AWESOME !!! \m/\m/ !!!

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@Haddonsman was also a big Thornbridge fan and Thornbridge have a beer called Otters Tears, which I am sure many of you are aware of and may have tried.

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Genius.

The spiritual home of British Brewing, doesn’t really feel like that now with even the National Brewing Centre in Burton in foreign hands. Burton is a very good day out but there are obviously better not too far away. We have a lot to be thankful for though with some truly great beers and breweries over the years, even if it has been consigned to the pages of history rather than still being at the sharp end of the current revolution. Most of my drinking in the county has been centred around the towns of Burton and Leek, never having done a drinking day out in Stoke.
I am, somewhat surprisingly, the number 1 rater for the county, I can’t see that continuing. I have tried beers from 37 different breweries, 2nd in that particular list. Staffordshire is my 12th highest county for beer ratings with an average of just 3.00 unfortunately, so a high proportion of below average beers.

The Breweries I have had most beers from are –

  1. Marston’s (Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Co.) – 89
  2. Titanic Brewery (UK) – 63
  3. Burton Bridge Brewery – 48
  4. Slater’s Ales – 34
  5. Beowulf Brewing – 20
  6. Kinver Brewery – 20

Of the 442 beers I have rated from the County I have rated just 12 with a score of 4 or over, the best being –

  1. Worthington’s White Shield – 4.4
  2. Beowulf Finns Hall Porter – 4.3
  3. Museum Bullion – 4.2
  4. Lymestone Stone Cold – 4.2
  5. Titanic Black Ice – 4.1
  6. Lymestone Pounamu – 4.1

The Staffordshire Breweries with my highest average are –

  1. Weal Ales – 3.48
  2. Kinver Brewery – 3.455
  3. Beowulf Brewing – 3.4
  4. Lymestone Brewery – 3.38
  5. White Shield (prev Museum) – 3.367

I have reviewed 20 places in Staffordshire, making it my 22nd highest county in that regard. I always get the feel that it is a county stuck a little in its past and the pubs tend to mirror that for me, with a couple of decent exceptions, I do intend to get some days out in the south of the county at some point. My best places are –

  1. Den Engel, Leek – 86
  2. Coopers Tavern, Burton on Trent – 84
  3. Dog Inn (Black Country Ales), Burton on Trent – 76
  4. Wilkes Head (Whim), Leek – 74
  5. Fuggle & Nugget (Closed), Burton on Trent – 74

I have done quite a lot of walking through the county, Cannock Chase is excellent and also the Staffs part of the Peak District is very challenging at times. I would recommend The Staffordshire Way as it crosses the whole county and I used it to get from Shropshire to Derbyshire, even if it did meander through the farmyards a little. Sports wise, I used to hate the old Victoria Ground in Stoke and the dash back to the station, we did get to Port Vale once, can’t remember why, I have a vague memory of my Dad driving me and Granddad there in the mid 60’s and us meeting Sir Stanley Matthews after the game. Never been to the Burton Albion ground.

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The border to Staffordshire from my house in Shropshire is about 15 miles, so very ‘next door’ I suppose. My father came from the hamlet of Elford (between Lichfield and Tamworth) and I have relations near Rugeley, who I rarely visit. There is a new direct bus route from Telford to Cannock that started on 1st June, but I haven’t used it yet.

I am the 5th highest rater on 264 @ 3.13. It’s my 4th highest county by volume.

TOP BEERS

Titanic Route 10 IPA 4.1 3.31 7/14/2015
Lymestone Stone Faced 4 3.15 4/24/2012
Titanic Stout 4 3.43 5/18/2012
Morton Irish George 4 3.32 5/25/2012
Marston’s Pedro 4 2.83 11/5/2012
Slater’s Colombia Coffee Stout 4 3.28 12/3/2012
Beowulf Milk Stout 4 3.19 11/22/2019

Lowest scoring beer is Carling Original Lager!

29 Different breweries sampled with Marston’s leading the way on 44 rates, Titanic and Slater’s following behind. I also note Staffordshire (previously Leek) and Cottage Delight are in double figures, all bottled crap from Garden Centres I assume, because I don’t recall seeing any of their beers on tap anywhere.

I’ve seen Grimsby Town at both Stoke grounds (Victoria and Britannia) and at Port Vale, the locals are a bit ‘territorial and aggressive’ to away supporters at times, we always seem to have trouble when we go. I’ve watched us a Tamworth as well, a lot friendlier town all round. Lichfield is a nice place with some old style inns and Stafford it’s self is pleasant enough, again with a few decent old town pubs.

My place reviews number 15 with 3 of my top 5 coming from the small village of Codsall, which is a short train journey from me. The other two being The Sun Inn, a Titanic Pub in Stafford and The National Brewery Centre in Burton-on-Trent.

Currently trying to sort out a meet with @Martinsh in Stafford (direct bus route from Telford), so my Staffordshire rates may rise a little in the near future?

Fun Fact: When I joined the RAF back in 1970 there were 48 of us on my course (24 of us finished it). We came from all corners of the UK (Channel Islands, Scotland, etc, etc) and from all sorts of different backgrounds. The only bloke no one could understand (including the Instructors) was a lad from Stoke. He lasted a week.

<*))))))><

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65 Staffordshire beers for me. 17 of them 3.0 or lower so it’s a county with a long tail. Before I belatedly joined Ratebeer and started to take the beer revolution to heart, I was partial to Titanic Plum Porter which explains why it still enjoys an exalted status in my ratings. Someone once told me that the brewery workers hated it since when it is in process they go home with a strong smell of rotten eggs about their person. Fortunately it doesn’t linger on the finished product. I have had 16 Titanic brews and they not only account for 6 of my top 10 but 2 of the aforementioned 17 low scores. In contrast I have tried just the one Beowulf ale but since it was the Dragon Smoke Stout it was a stand-out, so I will add that to volume 5 of my list of beers to try when I am back in England. Burton Bridge is another brewery that seems to have come my way (12) partly because they seem to offer something to the Stout and Porter and Mild trails that were a feature of my year in happier times. I have been unlucky with Lymestone with the exception of its Stone Dead Stout; too many uninteresting golden ales. It’s a similar tale with Slater’s. I spent a couple years as a campus resident of Keele University so I know Stoke. The Five Towns are a singular place and I recall a few entertaining nights in Hanley, which some would see as a remarkable achievement. But it speaks volumes that the abiding memory is a bonfire night party overlooking the M6; the magic mushrooms in the pizza made the motorway a truly beautiful experience! But from now on I will stick to the safety of beer, even if at the moment it is Italian imitations of German styles.

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Hmmmm so another country which doesn’t seem to have many interesting breweries and by virtue of not being a neighbouring county I’ve not picked up that may beers just by default.

Quite surprised to discover that I’ve not rated Cobra. I must have drunk it a few times at Indians and presumed I’d already rated it.

The only beer with a decent score is Titanic Plum Porter @ 3.8.

27 beers from 12 breweries:

Marston’s – 8

Burton Bridge / Titanic – 4

Freedom / Molson Coors - 2

Cobra / Cottage Delight* / Front Row / Kinver / Ran / Taylor Walker / Vine Inn – 1

*A garden centre purchase by my parents. Have had a few more Cottage delight beers but they were rebadges of existing beers from around the country.

I have relatives in Stafford but I only went there once when I was a kid.

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You’ll be lucky ! Though you would have got a Worcestershire tick if you had been with me today

I’m weighing in with 9 rates for Staffordshire, which puts it in my Top 10 England Counties - those 9 are from 6 breweries, all of which are still going: highest marks for Beowulf Spring Tide (3.8) but that was way back in my ‘youthful’ days when I knew nothing - now I know a little bit, I doubt it would score so highly! Isn’t far to Staffs from where I live, but apart from Marstons (everywhere) and Titanic, you don’t see too many of its beers in Shrewsbury and I can’t say I seek them out particularly.

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Not much remarkable for me except perhaps my rating of a very old bottle of Bass No 1 / King’s Ale:
https://www.ratebeer.com/beer/bass-no-1-kings-ale/11840/8067/

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51 Staffordshire ratings for me, my two highest rated at 4.1 are:
Halfpenny Green Gold Guinea 4.1
Halfpenny Green Le Franc Cidre Rustique 4.1

Halfpenny Green cidery score very highly for me and are my 10th highest rated producer overall, so well worth rating: https://www.halfpennygreencider.co.uk/

There are 4 active cideries in Staffordshire, with Hurst View from Stafford having the most entries with 15

The top 5 raters for Staffordshire ciders and cideries are:

StaffordshireCider Ratings

StaffordshireCideries

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This is a county that I’ve been looking forward to, although looking at my stats they’re actually fairly average. I’ve got 115 ratings which is good enough for 38th place. Not too bad I guess for a county that I have no connection to. Leicestershire does share a tiny border with Staffordshire but it’s only about 15mm so I really don’t consider it a neighbouring county.

A lot of crap rates but a few good ones. The best of the best are:

I’ve tried beer from 20 breweries, only one of which has closed so that’s pretty good! The brewery which is out in front is Tower, which contract brews the Hoskins Brothers beers for the Ale Wagon in Leicester. I’ve got 25 from them, followed by Titanic (16), Marston’s (13), Burton Bridge (11) and Heritage / William Worthington (7). The top-rated Staffs brewery (with at least 5 beers) is actually Burton Town who have a decent taproom in Burton not far from the Tower brewery. Staffordshire is also home to my second-lowest-rated brewery, Molson Coors UK.

The 24 places I’ve rated are dominated by Burton and Stoke, unsurprisingly. I don’t get out in Staffordshire much, as there really doesn’t seem like anywhere to go on purpose except for Burton (beer) and Stoke (football and sometimes beer). So these two areas dominate the top places:

Shame to hear about Otter’s Tears closing at least in its physical form.

First beer rated: Marston’s Pedigree (Cask & bottle conditioned) - no surprise there - on 17 June 2013.
Most recent beer rated: Peakstones Rock Wayman’s Milk Stout at the Creaky Floorboard, Derby with @Mr_Pink_152, @imdownthepub and @Martinsh on 5 June 2021.

First place rated: Staff of Life in Stoke on 3 November 2013, almost certainly a rainy late autumn away day at the Britannia.
Most recent place rated: BottleCraft in Stoke on 21 November 2019.

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Interesting this county has come up as over the last 2 weeks I have tried 6 bottled ales from Enville Brewery which just sneaks into the county being close to Stourbridge. Can’t say I’m that impressed although the Gothic Ale was decent.

I’ve had 28 rates in total with a low average rating of 2.95.Highest ratings go to Marston’s Owd Rodger 3.8 and Titanic Plum Porter 3.7. Carling is also my lowest rate as expected.

Can’t say I travel much to Staffordshire despite it being fairly close. Drayton Manor gets a few visits a year and is great for the kids, less so for beer!

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Staffordshire is very much a “scroll past” county for me (see also Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire) … my lowest scoring county at a paltry 2.92 average (no other county sub 3).

I’ve 87 rates placing me 46th in the list and thus my only county outside the top 40 and have no desire to improve upon this.

Top 3 beers jointly get a 3.6 … that’s a par score for most beers I drink these days and are all stouts from Beowulf, Titanic and Bass.

Place wise I do recall the railway arms (IIRC) opposite Stafford station being good for cask ticks in the late 90’s and they used to set up a giant Scalextric set there on a Sunday,

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Demolished c2007 and now a car showroom

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sad to hear … when I lived in Wolverhampton I’d sometimes find myself changing trains at Stafford on trips back from Manchester and the north west … always happy to let the first train go and sink a couple of pints in there

Poor Staffordshire ! Derided by many on here because it’s breweries aren’t geeky enough for their liking. Well, in my opinion, there are plenty of decent breweries in the county. Though admittedly there are some pretty naff ones as well.

I’ve worked in the county (Stafford itself actually) for the past 15 years and consequently have a reasonable number of ratings on RB. A total of 60 rates from 18 breweries (making it my second most rated county after Derbyshire)

Looking at highest ratings given - we’re immediately into controversy.

Marstons Harpers Coffee Stout 4.3
Marstons Owd Rodger 4.2
Heritage Masseys Mild 4
Titanic Cappuccino Stour 3.9
Titanic Plum Porter Grand Reserve 3.8
Staffordshire Rudyard Ruby 3.7
Titanic Black Ice 3.7
Worthington White Shield 3.7
(then numerous at 3.6)

Harpers Coffee Stout is brewed for Aldi, and therefore is regarded by RB as a Warwickshire beer. However, I always assign beers to the region in which they are actually brewed (if known). Owd Rodger is a gorgeous drink as well and Old Empire IPA and Bass (Marstons) are only just outside the list above. Mind you Marstons RPA is foul and tasteless, and I’ve never liked Pedigree.

Most rated breweries are as follows.

Marstons 10
Slaters 10
Burton Bridge 9
Titanic 8

Of those Burton Bridge is the highest rated at 3.29 and Slaters the lowest rated of ANY brewery I’ve drunk 5 beers from at 2.71.

Looking now at my own records now, I sse I have drunk 294 beers from 36 different Staffordshire breweries. The top ones being

Titanic 41
Marstons 36
Slaters 29
Lymestone 20
Burton Brisge 18
Morton 16
Beowulf 14
Kinver 12

As far as places go, I’ve only rated 12 places in the county. These are in just three locations, Stafford (where I’ve rated every decent pub), Lichfield and Burton. Lichfield is definitely worth investigating more !

Highest ratings appear to be

Beerbohm, Lichfield 4.1
Coopers Tavern, Burton 4.1
Floodgate,Stafford 3.9
Shrewsbury Arms, Stafford 3.7
Sun, Stafford 3.5
Devonshire Arms, Burton 3.4

Looking at those, I probably need to revise some of them. I was definitely underwhelmed by the Coopers Tavern on my last visit, and the Sun in Stafford has gone from 7 guest beers down to 0 !

In other activities, I’ve not been to watch any football or cricket in Staffordshire. However, I was taken many times to Uttoxeter races in my youth.

Buswise, Stafforshire used to be a very interesting county (and still is to some extent thanks to Mr J Peddle) with many independent operators in the Potteries plus Stevensons of Uttoxeter. However, the icing on the cake was always (late lamented) Green Bus Service of Cannock, and their lowbridge Guy Arab.

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I think that a little bit of brewing history may cause some interest as Allsopp’s Brewery btw dating back to 1730 is currently being revived. Test brews last year and they have the original yeast, though according to Pete Brown, Beer Writer, this might need some work before it can be used again.

Pete Brown on Twitter is the source, and he has a small involvement in this venture, so this is exciting as they plan to re-brew many of the old recipes. In terms of brewing, I assume that it will remain close to its roots?

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Wikipedia seems to suggest there is some Brewdog involvment ?