Award-winning beer writer Laura Hadland introduces Shrewsbeer - a chance for locals and tourists alike to explore some new watering holes and gain a deeper appreciation of some of Shropshire's finest ales.
A new walking tour is coming to Shrewsbury at the end of the month. Award-winning beer writer Laura Hadland is hosting Shrewsbeer - a chance for locals and tourists alike to explore a new side of the town. Each tour will take in four pubs, sampling cask ale made from a mixture of local and nationally recognised breweries.
“The tours are an opportunity to sample some fantastic local products,” Laura said. “Cask ale is something that the British do better than anyone else in the world and here in Shrewsbury we have a delightful mix of pubs to enjoy them in. I hope that these relaxed tours will open people’s eyes not just to some delicious new flavours, but also to a different side to our rich heritage.”
Tickets for Shrewsbeer tickets can be booked via shropshiregoat.com/shrewsbeer
What is cask ale?
And why is British beer so brilliant? Laura explains: “Cask ale is a live product - it still contains yeast so it undergoes a secondary fermentation in the barrel. This adds a touch of carbonation and lots of extra flavour. It’s an artisan product that needs a lot of expertise to be made, conditioned and served properly so it showcases the skill of both the brewer and the publican who pulls the pint.
“What people may not realise is that there are so many different styles of ale available. There is a real rainbow of flavours out there to try, so I firmly believe there is a beer out there to suit everyone. From effervescent and citrusy, to biscuity and fruity, to rich and chocolatey - and everything in between! There are tangy sour beers, even sweet thick beers that taste like cakes and pastries!”
Shrewsbeer tour participants will get to try a range of styles under Laura’s expert guidance, as well as discover a little more about the history of the pubs that serve them.
Which Shropshire beer is your favourite?
Here at My Shrewsbury, we want to know which Shropshire cask-conditioned ale is your champion. Laura gave us the lowdown on some of her favourites.
The locals' favourite? Hadnall-based Salopian has made a name for itself through more than 25 years of consistent, quality brewing. Theirs is one of the best recognised and highly decorated brewery brands in Shropshire. Their Black Range has been exploring a wide range of interesting craft beer styles, but their cask lines are solid classics. Here are some of their top beers:
- Oracle - A 4% ABV golden ale with hoppy flavours balanced by a light touch of sweetness.
- Lemon Dream - This 4.5% ABV blonde ale does exactly what it says on the tin - delivering a refreshing hit of citrus via the fresh lemons used in the brewing process.
- Shropshire Gold - The 3.8% bitter is a classic that has been around since 1998. The floral hoppy aroma is balanced by a crisp malt character that makes a refreshing brew.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2023, the Cleobury Mortimer based brewery has just been recognised for its commercial success with a national award. They have a tried and tested core range of beers, with seasonal additions adding extra flavour throughout the year. Top beers include:
- Town Crier - A 4.5% golden ale which balances crisp fruit with a solid malty tone.
- Twisted Spire - Named for the spire of St Mary the Virgin in Cleobury Mortimer, this sessionable 3.5% blonde ale is dry and refreshing.
- Champion Mild - Mild is definitely enjoying a revival at the moment, and Hobsons are definitely at the top of the tree when it comes to quality. Don’t let the 3.2% ABV fool you, this beer is packed full of nutty, chocolate flavours and a rich, smooth mouthfeel makes it very satisfying to drink.
Three Tuns Brewery
Established in 1642, Three Tuns haven’t been afraid to move with the times to keep their brand fresh. Look out for 5% ABV IPA, Cleric’s Cure, and the multi-award winning traditional Stout (4.4%) to see them at their best.
With a centuries-old pedigree, Joules have reinvented themselves in modern times with a new brewery at Market Drayton and a small but perfectly formed portfolio of beautifully renovated pubs that it serves. Their pale ale at 4.1% ABV is the classic, but also watch out for the 4.5% bitter Slumbering Monk which packs in a huge amount of flavour.
Based in Bromyard, Herefordshire, Wye Valley deserves an honourable mention because it is so commonly found here in Shropshire that they feel like adopted Salopians. Their pale ale HPA is perhaps the most ubiquitous, but the critics’ favourite is surely the 4.5% pale ale, Butty Bach. That crown may soon be snatched by their new release, a British stout called Nightjar.
The smallest brewery on the list, Clun create some fantastic beers out of their microbrewery in the South Shropshire Hills. Treat yourself to a pint of the intense bitterness and highly aromatic Citadel IPA, but watch out for that 5.9% ABV tag!
We want to know your favourites! We will update this post with a list of the readers’ choice of the very best Shropshire cask beers. Head to our Facebook page and leave a comment to have your say. One participant will win some tasty beers as a thank you for getting involved.