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 –
- Bewdley William Mucklow’s Dark Mild
- Lab Culture No.001 Galilale Galilei R
- Norbury’s Black Bull Cider Medium Sweet
- Buckle Street Porter R
- Knights Malvern Gold Medium Dry Reserve
- Knights Malvern Gold Medium Reserve
- Barkers Upsy Daisy Real Perry / BURP (Draught)
- Malvern Hills Cyneweard
- Friday Beer Black Hill Stout
- 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 –
- Bull Baiters Inn, Worcester – 84
- Firefly, Worcester – 83
- Nags Head, Great Malvern – 80
- Plough, Worcester – 79
- Imperial Tavern (Black Country Ales), Worcester – 79
- Coach & Horses, Weatheroak Hill – 79
- King and Castle, Kidderminster – 79
The Top 5 Raters of beers from Worcestershire are –
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.