Beer Days Out – Raising a Stourbridge Glass
Stourbridge is a large town on the south-western fringe of the Black Country in the West Midlands. The town gives its name to local glass production, which originated with the immigration of Hugenot miners in the 1600’s. Stourbridge glass was recognised as being amongst the finest in the world, but sadly, most of the large glassmakers have closed or moved elsewhere. However, glasses and beer go together, so we decided to pay a visit to this historic town to see what it could offer.
Arriving by train at Stourbridge Junction railway station, we took the unique Parry People-Mover flywheel-powered lightweight railcar down the shortest branch line in Europe to Stourbridge Town. Passing through the modern bus station into a subway, we emerged into Foster Street for our first port of call at the Red House Boutique. Formerly a sports-bar, it now offers a great range of cask and craft beers from local breweries and further afield. We sampled Salopian’s Shropshire Gold and Triumph’s Pictish Ale.
Turning left along the High Street, a quick visit to The Chequers Inn revealed the local Wetherspoons pub with a good range of real ales. Walking along the High Street in the opposite direction, we found Victoria Passage where, at the end, we found the Barbridge, a tiny micro-pub on the corner of Talbot Street. Here, welcoming staff serve a good range of cask and craft beer and we sampled Kelham Island’s Full Nutty Jacket and Burning Soul Simcoe Pale Ale.
Returning to the High Street, and turning left, we spied The Old Bank, on the corner of Coventry Street. As the name suggests, this is a recently refurbished former bank, and offers a good range of real ales, including Pardoes Bumblehole. Turning right along Coventry Street, on the corner with Duke Street, we found the Duke William, one of two outlets for Craddock’s Brewery. The beer was originally brewed behind the pub, but is now mostly brewed behind another pub in Bridgnorth. Famous for its beer and pies, we sampled Saxon Gold and Honey Ewe.
Now for a longer stroll, through the Crown Shopping Centre, across the ring road (Bath Road) on to Enville Street. Two pubs to visit here; firstly, the Queens Head, a recently reopened and refurbished pub taken over by Black Country Ales, where we sampled their own beers, BFG, Fireside and Pig on the Wall. Returning along Enville Street, we couldn’t miss the Royal Exchange, a long-standing pub serving the local beer from Bathams, not far away in Brierley Hill.
Returning to Stourbridge town centre for a longer walk along Bath Road, we turned right along Worcester Street towards Mary Stevens Park. On the corner of Chapel Street, we found the Waggon & Horses, recently taken over by Enville Ales, where we were able to sample Enville Ginger, and American Pale Ale from the associated Stourton Brewery. Further along Worcester Street, we reached the historic Plough & Harrow, now operated by Craddocks Brewery. A cosy and friendly pub, full of interesting locals, where we sampled Goat Herder Stout and Crazy Sheep.
Then back to Stourbridge Town, by railcar to Stourbridge Junction for our final three bars. Walking through the car park, we soon reached Rufford Road and continued to the Green Duck Brewery, a simple brewery tap (Badelynge Bar) with a friendly family atmosphere. Here, most their current range of beers can be sampled (at £10 for 4 pints), including Duck & Dive, Duck Under and seasonal brews, along with some guest beers (only open Friday and Saturday afternoons).
Continuing along Rufford Road and Hungary Hill, we caught the No.9 bus along the Stourbridge Road to Lye. Here, at the cross-roads with Pedmore Road, our first port of call was the Windsor Castle, the original tap house for Sadlers brewery, where we sampled some excellent Worcester Sorceror and Boris Citrov. Walking north along the Dudley Road, we turned right into the station car park to find our final brewery tap, the new Sadlers Brewery (opens Wednesday-Saturday). A modern building with the bar on the first floor, with a viewing gallery to see the new brewery below. We had an excellent meal, washed down with the inevitable glass of Mud City Stout and Peaky Blinder.
Stourbridge is certainly to be recommended for a good variety of cask and craft beers within a short distance, and we rejoined our train at Lye station for our return journey home.