County Stat Attack Week 41 - Worcestershire

This week completes our West Midlands counties with the verdant and fruitful county of Worcestershire. It is a landlocked county that has undergone many border changes since its inception when the area was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927. This culminated in the complete abolition of Worcestershire in 1974 when the unloved county of Hereford and Worcester was created, Worcestershire losing its northern parts to the infant West Midlands. By 1998 H&W was spilt into 2 happier parts and the new Worcestershire was born.

The area was populated before the Bronze Age and right through to the Roman time where many villas were set up in the Cotswold area of the current county. The Vale of Evesham was known already for its agriculture and Droitwich (Salinae) for its salt. Many Royal Hunting grounds were set up in the area during the Middle Ages and after the Norman Conquest. There were several battles during the Civil War which effectively ended with the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

The Western border of the county is largely made up with the Malvern Hills which are an area of outstanding natural beauty and are mainly made of volcanic rocks. The South East of the county are the undulating hills of the Cotswolds. In between are the major river valleys of the River Severn and the River Avon.

Agriculture and wool have been the mainstays of the county, particularly with fruit farming in the Vale of Evesham, but also, important to us, this has always been an important hop producing area.

The largest settlements are City of Worcester, Redditch, Kidderminster, Malvern, Bromsgrove and Evesham.

On Ratebeer we have 45 breweries listed with 22 still active and 23 now sadly closed, I believe that is the first time on our tour that closures exceed active! Only 3 of these are Client / Commissioner Brewers that I could find. The Brewery with the largest range we have is Cannon Royall of Honeybourne (Est 1993) with 45 beers.

The oldest breweries we have listed are Evesham Brewery and Wyre Piddle Brewery both founded in 1992 and both subsequently closed. The oldest surviving active brewery is Cannon Royall mentioned above. It appears that Worcestershire lost many of its traditional breweries when it lost the north of the county to the West Midlands where Breweries such as Bathams were situated.

In the 2020 Ratebeer awards the Best Brewery award was made to Bewdley Brewery (Est 2008). The Best Beer also went to Bewdley Brewery with their William Mucklow’s Dark Mild, brilliant that a Mild is so well thought of! No award was made for a New Brewery.

The Top 10 beers for Worcestershire are –

  1. Bewdley William Mucklow’s Dark Mild
  2. Lab Culture No.001 Galilale Galilei R
  3. Norbury’s Black Bull Cider Medium Sweet
  4. Buckle Street Porter R
  5. Knights Malvern Gold Medium Dry Reserve
  6. Knights Malvern Gold Medium Reserve
  7. Barkers Upsy Daisy Real Perry / BURP (Draught)
  8. Malvern Hills Cyneweard
  9. Friday Beer Black Hill Stout
  10. Barbourne Painted Lady S/V Perry (Draught)
    A most unusual list for any county so far. Certainly is a Cider / Perry county.

The Top Bars / Pubs in Worcestershire are –

  1. Bull Baiters Inn, Worcester – 84
  2. Firefly, Worcester – 83
  3. Nags Head, Great Malvern – 80
  4. Plough, Worcester – 79
  5. Imperial Tavern (Black Country Ales), Worcester – 79
  6. Coach & Horses, Weatheroak Hill – 79
  7. King and Castle, Kidderminster – 79

The Top 5 Raters of beers from Worcestershire are –

  1. @imdownthepub
  2. @Grumbo
  3. @Fin
  4. @fonefan
  5. @downender

You only require 15 beers to get into the top 50 for this county, get stuck in to it.

The Ratebeerian who resides in Worcestershire with most ratings is –
@foxo82 but we seem to have lost him in 2018. Unfortunately I cannot find any current Raters in the county.

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The last of our neighbouring counties and one I have a long association with even if I have never lived there. I suppose it first came into my consciousness early on that there was a bit of a rivalry between Warwickshire and Worcestershire when my Granddad used to take me occasionally to Edgbaston and I can remember distinctly him saying Bears against Pears today and rubbing his hands in excitement. We love staying in Worcs and have done so on many occasions at Broadway and Malvern Hills, also our son lives in Evesham with his wife and children, so we get to visit lots. However staying there doesn’t necessarily mean you get to drink the local beers, they can be hard to find.

Worcester itself is a decent day out, lots of pretty reasonable pubs in a pleasant city, I hear the Kidderminster is worth a visit these days too as is Malvern. Evesham itself is a bit of a struggle, apart from the Red Lion which is very good. Lots of country pubs to be had.

I have done lots of walking across the county, the Cotswold Way starts / finishes there, the Malvern Hills ridge walk is fantastic plus lots more, even the Severn Way is worth a few days out with easy walking. The County ground in Worcester is a great setting, in the shadow of the cathedral, even if it does get flooded at times, we have been on quite a few occasions, always supporting the Bears though. The biggest Football team in the county is Kidderminster Harriers, I have been there with Banbury United, can’t say I have ever been to Worcester City’s ground, sorry @Fin
I am top of the pile for Worcestershire beer ratings, there was a time when Fin and I were neck a neck here but with him abandoning us I seem to have leapt ahead. The danger is going to come from the cider boys in the future methinks. I have 180 ratings against my name placing Worcs. at rather a lowly 36th position in my counties chart, averaging a slightly disappointing 3.18. I have had beers from 32 Breweries putting me well out front in that chart too.

The Breweries I have had most beers from in Worcestershire are –

  1. Cannon Royall Brewery – 19
  2. Bewdley Brewery – 15
  3. Malvern Hills Brewery – 12
  4. St. Georges Brewery (Closed) – 12

I haven’t given a single score of 4 or over for any beer from Worcestershire, I suppose that tells a story in itself, my best are –

  1. Malvern Hills Black Pear – 3.9
  2. Cannon Royall Kings Shilling – 3.8
  3. St Georges Premium Bitter – 3.8
  4. Teme Valley Buchanalia – 3.8
  5. Bird’s Dark Matter – 3.8
  6. Bewdley SVR150 – 3.8
  7. Ambridge Single Hop Citra – 3.8
    7 different breweries for my top 7 beers!!

The Worcestershire Breweries with my highest averages are –

  1. Urban Hunstman Brew Co – 3.4
  2. Boat Lane Brewery – 3.389
  3. Pope’s Brewing – 3.38
  4. Teme Valley Brewery – 3.338

I have reviewed 49 Pubs / Bars in Worcestershire placing it at 10th place in my counties list, the best being –

  1. TripelB Belgian Beer Café, Worcester – 86
  2. Weighbridge, Alvechurch – 80
  3. Three Kings, Hanley Castle – 78
  4. Boat Lane Brewery Tap, Offenham – 78
  5. Dragon Inn, Worcester – 76

Must get back to Worcester again soon, haven’t done it for over a year now plus a few of the places in the north of the county, feeling a plan coming together.

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Worcestershire is just South of me and is reached easily on the Severn Valley Railway that runs from the lovely Shropshire town of Bridgnorth to the awful town of Kidderminster. Luckily you pass (and can get off at) some smashing places along the way, of which Bewdley is our favourite. You also travel alongside the fence of the Bewdley Safari Park and often see an elephant or two from the carriage of your steam train.

Weekends at Bewdley and Worcester have been taken over the years, as well as train journeys and football visits to Kidderminster. I was therefore surprised to find I’ve only reviewed 7 places and drank 64 different beers and 2 ciders. Those totals get me to a heady 9th on the RateBeer Leader Board for the county. Average scores come out at 3.22.

TOP BERS

Bewdley Bah Humbug 4.1 3.28 4/5/2012
Teme Valley Wotever Next? 3.9 2.98 4/12/2012
Brew 61 Hop On 3.9 3.13 7/26/2021
Lakehouse Cherry-Chocolate Porter 3.8 3.26 4/24/2019
Brew 61 Spring Meadow 3.8 3.19 4/23/2021
Bewdley William Mucklow’s Dark Mild 3.7 3.38 4/10/2012
Teme Valley The Hop Nouvelle 3.7 3.05 4/18/2012
Bewdley Hinton Manor 3.7 3 8/10/2012
Friday Beer Friday Gold 3.7 3.08 6/30/2017
Bewdley Rye Challenger 3.7 3.09 12/16/2018

15 Breweries, 6 closed; 2 Cider producers used, but no Mead or Sake.

Bewdley 25
Teme Valley 8
Hop Shed 5

I like the traditional beers Bewdley Brewery produce and they are a friendly bunch if you visit their little brewery tap (which I believe has grown in size since my visit). Plus Bewdley has some great pubs if you are into Cask Ales.

<*))))))><

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I seem to have rated 6 ales from Worcestershire. and all but one are from the now defunct Lab Culture (a victim of the pandemic it appears).
I really like Worcester both the cathedral and the racecourse! And the Malverns are a delight so the county had much to commend it but no stand-out beers for me.

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Two ticks. My rating for Bewdley Senior School Bitter had a special label to commemorate the locomotive A1 “Tornado” visiting the Severn Valley Railroad. Bottle shared by rail fan DuctTape who brought it back from his trip to the UK. Otherwise not much of note for me with this county.

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My 5 Worcestershire ticks make it my joint 2nd bottom County, alongside Lincolnshire.

Fact of the Day: I am the #1 rater of Gander. They are one of the few breweries that actually have an option of a sampler pack - so you can order just 3. I was driving home from work and phone went - it was someone from the brewery who’s spotted my address and the fact that I had accidentally (as he correctly presumed) clicked the pick up from brewery option. In the end they sent them to me second class.

I know that I have been to a pub in Upton-upon-Severn. Just a bit hazy on the details as it was about 26 years ago. The last time I visited my godfather who moved there when his job transfered to Malvern.

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Two ticks for me. Got them both while visiting the area buying a stair carpet :man_shrugging:t2:

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Worcestershire – haven’t we already done that one ? I guess we must not have done.

I have made a total of 11 ratings for Worcestershire beers, from 7 breweries. 3 each from BOA (Brothers of Ale) and Hartlebury, and one each for the rest. However, my total of 3 rates for BOA, is three times as many as the whole of the rest of Rate Beer raters put together ! Come on you lot – pull your socks up !

No outstanding beers come to mind for the county – my highest rating is only 3.6 for Beer 61 Spring Meadow.

Taking my own records into account, I have drunk 32 Worcestershire beers from 20 different breweries. No more than 3 beers from any brewery.

I’ve not rated any places in the county. I have been to a fair few pubs in Worcester, but the venues that stick in my mind most are in the apparently unloved locations of Kidderminster (King & Castle and Weavers) and Evesham (Old Red Horse and Trumpet).

Worcestershire is the location of my favourite cricket ground in the country. Wonrderfully scenic with the river and cathedral and (as John Arlott said) “the bar stayed open all day” . Hampshire usually do well in these matches, though I can’t recall any outstanding performances. Always a bit of needle though after we was robbed of the County Championship in 1974.

Have been to Worcester races in the past – usually meetings featured a novice chase where over 75% of the participants failed to complete the course. Not been to any football in the county.

Buses in Worcestershire have never been terribly interesting either. Though I do believe the Birmingham Bus Museum is technically in the county (at Wythall). Lots of rides on old Midland Red buses there – including the semi-unique D10.

Ooh almost forgot about the Severn Valley Railway. Been there plenty of times, and am one of the few people to actually use it for genuine travel purposes, as I used to have a client in Bewdley. [ They are still a client, but have moved to Kidderminster ] My last trip back from Bewdley was behind a Western (diesel hydraulic Class 52) – s-s-s-superb !

Finally I’ve never been walking in the Malvern – which is definitely high up on my bucket list.

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This a saucy little county for sure. It certainly doesn’t seem to have a lot of breweries, and those that do spring up in the county seem to last about as long as a Spinal Tap drummer. I’ve had 18 beers from Worcestershire - my joint second least - from 11 breweries (7 active, 4 closed). I’ve only had more than 2 beers from one brewery: that is the now-closed Pershore with 3.

The ‘top’ beers (nothing clears 3.5) are all from different breweries which is kind of cool:

Now, I’ve not seen the ‘verdant and fruitful’ part of Worcestershire - I’d imagine that’s down south nearer to Oxon - but I have been to Redditch, Bromsgrove and Kidderminster. I’ve managed 9 place rates, the best of which were:

So some decent enough places, but the county certainly seems to rank as one of England’s least interesting, beerwise anyway. If I stay in the general Midlands area I can’t imagine I won’t mosey on down to Worcester one of these days but I am not sure that there’s much of anything else.

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I used to live in Bromsgrove - 25 years in total. Nice town to live and work with good transport connections but not the liveliest of places. The same could be said of the beer offerings.

I have 19 ratings so far with a decent average of 3.38 although about 12 of these were from a mixed box from Bewdley brewing early on in my ratings here so maybe I was being a little generous with scores. I do recommend the William Mucklow’s Dark Mild though, must be one of the better beers in the county.

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Just the one Worcs. rate for me, and that was a pretty average bottle of ‘IPA’ from Hop Shed - looking at the list of breweries, both open and closed, and there’s nothing that jumps out as either exciting or recognisable really. Surprising as it’s a bordering county for me, I guess their beers don’t travel much, or not to the places I frequent. It’s not a county I have a great deal of experience of, have travelled through a few times, heading south, and have enjoyed a day on the steam train and a visit to Bewdley, which was very picturesque, as were parts of the Cotswolds, although when there you’re never really 100% sure which county you’re in!

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47 rates from Worcestershire for me, only 2 of which are beers. The highest rated on 4 are Fletchers Rementzo and Fletchers Red Oak both from trades with minutemat.

There are 23 active cideries in Worcestershire, which is actually 1 more than active breweries at 22. The cidery with the most listed is Barbourne in Worcester with 29 entries.

The top 5 raters for Worcestershire ciders and cideries are:

WorcestershireCider Ratings

WorcestershireCideries

Wassail!

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I’m a bit late to the party on this one!! I spent ages pulling my stats together than released I’d looked at Warwick rather than Worcestershire.

I have only tried 35 Worcestershire beers, which is my 3rd lowest of all the English counties.

The top rated beer I have had are:

Beer Rate
Lab Culture Blackcurrant Brine Springs 3.8
Ambridge Single Hop Citra 3.6
Lakehouse Cherry-Chocolate Porter 3.4
Lab Culture No 001 Galilale Galilei 3.4

I have only had 5 or more beers from 1 brewery.

https://www.ratebeer.com/brewers/bird39s-brewery/11326/

Randomly I have rated 13 places in Worcestershire, the top place being.

https://www.ratebeer.com/p/firefly/22870/

Although I never tried one of their beers when it was a BrewPub.

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Part 2 of my catch up week!

Worcestershire’s not been an easy county for me to get beers from - uniquely at one point I actually had more place ratings than beer ratings!

I’ve currently had just 11 beers - my 3rd lowest rated county. Only two of those have had scores over 3.3, but those two were both pretty decent:
Bewdley William Mucklow’s Dark Mild - scored 4
Lakehouse Cherry-Chocolate Porter - scored 4

The 11 rates have come from 6 breweries and two cideries, none of which I’ve rated more than twice.

I’ve rated 5 places, none of them particularly highly - the best rating was for John Barleycorns, a small bottle shop in Broadway, which I scored at 3.7.

Despite my paucity of rates, it’s a county I’ve been to many times. I’ve found it a rather schizophrenic county, with parts of it feeling either very-middle-England, virtually-Birmingham, almost-Cotswolds, getting-on-for-Welsh borders, sort-of-Severn-Estuarine, or “we’ve got hill ranges of our own thank you very much”! And it is of course this variety and lack of homogeneity (combined with the fact that probably half of the population of the UK couldn’t place it on a map) that make it such a wonderful place.

I’ve stayed in Bewdley, Evesham and Broadway, all of which are lovely towns, and had daytrips to Worcester which is a lovely (and, considering it’s next to the M5, strangely forgotten and ignored) city.

Nice though the towns are, the highlights of the county for me are the hills. The highest point (Worcester Beacon, near Great Malvern) is 425m high and (light most of the Malvern range) absolutely stunning - one of the best of all the county high points if you can catch it when it’s not over-run with tourists. But the county has many other hills which offer great walking and stunning views - for instance, the Clent Hills in the north or Bredon Hill in the south east. It’s a county I would love to go back and explore more of (and, who knows, I might actually find some beer next time!).

One final point - I can’t believe no-one’s mentioned Worcestershire’s most famous product, the eponymous fermented liquid condiment without which cheese on toast and baked beans are incomplete. Weird fact - according to Wikipedia, El Salvador has the highest per capita consumption of Worcestershire Sauce in the world!

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During my first 4 years on Ratebeer (March 2011 to March 2015) I didn’t stumble across any Worcestershire beers, despite being in neighbouring Shropshire on several occasions - and you’d think something would’ve shown up in a Nicolsons or Spoons pub in all that time, but not a sausage! At that point in time, you required only 9 ratings to make it into the top 50 and I discovered a shop in Worcester (now closed) called Saucy Pears and asked them to send me one each of all their Worcestershire beers and ciders.

I reckoned their selection would have to throw up one or two tasty beers. As an insurance policy, I roped in the help of @allmyvinyl to help me get through the box and a half. In a tasting called ‘‘Worcester and Worcester Still’’ we trudged our way through beers from Popes, Teme Valley, Barbourne and Bewdley, as well as ciders from Knight’s Malvern and Oldfields. We found a lot of beers that ‘‘surely must show better on cask’’. Anyway, my Worcestershire duck was broken and the top 50 was even breached.

Later in 2015, on the way to Devon, we stopped for lunch at the Firefly in Worcester where I had the Firefly Poison Finger which might be my one and only Worcestershire cask rating.

In October 2020, when we managed to get away to Shropshire, before we were locked down in Scotland again, we discovered the Ludlow Farm Centre which is just outside Ludlow. This was the source of a good scoop of Worcestershire beer (Friday Beer & Hop Shed) and Worcestershire cider (Fletchers is the one I remember). This topped my ratings for Worcestershire up and I now have 53 ratings which is only 37th most ratings for the 46 counties). However, it is enough to get me to an unlikely 13th place - and I can’t see me moving a great deal up or down in the near future!

In terms of best beers rated I have none that I deemed better than 3.5. I have 2 ciders which I reckoned to be worth more than 3.5 and these are as follows.

Fletchers 1802 Premium Vintage Cider 3.6
Fletchers Red Oak 3.6

Apart from the visit to the Firefly in Worcester in 2015 the other place I’ve visited is the Real Ale Tavern in Bewdley in October 2020 (which of course represents a West Midlands brewery). The Worcestershire cask beer is still an endangered species, it would seem.

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