Do you know what Green King IPA tastes like? How about Abbot Ale? 6x? If you have ever drunk an ale before, the chance are you are familiar with these house hold names. How about Stroud Brewery’s Woolpack, or Uley’s Pig Ear, or the Old Rock from Nailsworth brewery? Probably not all three if any of them. Therefore, this blog entry is to encourage the residents of these valleys that I so love (Gloucestershire) to get out there and drink some of the fine nectar that is produced here. If you are a lager drinker skip to the last sentence.
It is easy to take for granted the great pubs and breweries we have in Gloucestershire, but it must be noted that not too long ago this wide choice did not exist. Gloucestershire experienced a “collapse” in its brewing heritage. Thirty years ago you would of had a choice of Whitbread or Whitbread as they dominated the beer industry here in our fair valleys. Although we have a long history of brewing in Gloucestershire, until fairly recently, this had all but disappeared. It wasn’t until the collapse of Whitbread and the birth of Uley brewery in the mid-1980’s that brewing started to have fresh life blown into it’s sales. Today we have a choice of a wide-range of breweries offering a good selection of fine local ales.
Today, this is still celebrated through the collection of “Gloucestershire’s Craft Brewers“. It has to be noted however; a minority of the public appreciates this. Most people, even you beer lovers out there, do not know about the microbreweries on your own doorstep, let alone appreciate the process in which beer is made. It is my belief that if people saw with there own eyes the process being undertaken in their local town and villages they would be much more likely to consume these beers in the future (thus strengthening local economies). Personally, I am extremely proud to have good quality local brews that represent local culture and history. This will only last however, if there is demanded for it over the taps…this bits up top you – the drinker.
My suggestion to you therefore, would be to start frequenting pubs that offer you an interesting selection of beer (so yes, I am afraid that means avoiding the Green King tied houses), and start sampling what they have to offer. If the free house (or tied house with guest beers) does not have anything you like, tell them about a beer you have had recently and ask if they can get it in.
Equally, local ale does not have to be kept to the pubs. Most breweries’ sell directly to the public. Stroud Brewery for example, will sell you bottled conditioned ale all the time, and you can put in orders the week before (to pick up on a Friday) for anything from 2.5 litters right up to a firkin (72 pints). If you are going to a party, why buy a 12 pack (9 pints ish) from Tesco’s for 14.99 when you can get 5 litres (9 pints ish) of local organic ale for £15?
Lastly, I strongly recommend you go and have a look round a microbrewery. Most of the people you find working in places like this are people who are in there for the love (believe me you do not make your millions by brewing, nor do you get critical acclaim). If you asked them, I am sure they would be more than happy to talk you through how it all works. By the time you get your head round the whole process you might think that £3 a pint actually represents a bargain.
If you want to know where to drink in Gloucestshire have a look at here for a list of pubs who have committed to stocking at least one local beer (in Gloucestershire) or pick up the latest copy of the Good beer guide. If you trust me, leave your postcode in the comments box and I’ll try and respond with some pubs that I think are ace with say 10 miles of where your based (as long as your from Gloucestershire).
If you are a lager drinker, don’t feel left out…you can try tasty lagers such as Cotswolds larger.