Brewed in Cheshire
A quick county tour of the
small craft breweries of Cheshire (plus a few very close by), with links to their own sites and a
few notes on their real ales and where to find them.
The competition was held in October 2012 at Chester Real Ale Festival
Champion : Pied Bull Matador
Matador is described as a rich malt-driven ale at 5% alcohol by volume with an aromatic hop profile.
Bollington Brewing Co *
Coach House *
Front Row *
Merlin Brewing *
Mobberley Fine Ales
Peerless (ex Betwixt) *
Tatton Brewery *
Found in Cheshire in the free trade and
at their own outlets: the Beartown Tap in Congleton, the AP
Club in Holmes Chapel and also at the Navigation in Stockport.
Beartown have been looking at bottling some
of their beers. Sales of the bottle conditioned beer will initially
be limited to within it's tied estate with a view to it being sold in
supermarkets. Sales of the full range of beers from the brewery are growing
very well both in the tied estate and the open market.
Based on the Wirral, and not strictly in Cheshire, but we aren't going to be precious about it, especialy where decent beers is concerned! Cask beers can be found in the free trade around the Wirral. Bottles can be bought at Farmers' markets around the NorthWest and htere is a home delivery service. See their website for more details.
Almost 80 years since brewing ceased at the Heavers Brothers site in Bollington, brewing has been revived by the team at the Vale Inn. The new brewery has been set up by Lee Wainwright and is based close to his pub, the Vale Inn. It launched in July 2008 with First Brew (4.2%), a golden coloured, slightly hoppy bitter which now has a permanent name; White Nancy (named after a local landmark). This was followed by Bollington Nights (3.9%). Their 3rd brew is Ginger Brew (4%). The regular range comprises 7 real ales, plus of course, seasonal special brews. All of these beers are availablle as Real Ale in a Bottle.
At the Champion Beer of Cheshire Competition
held recently at the Nantwich Beer Festival not only did Bollington win
the top prize of Champion Beer of Cheshire with Bollington
Best, but also took second place with Oat Mill Stout. This is a remarkable
achievement for a new operation and the first time that a brewer has won
two of the top three spots.
The brewing business is showing healthy growth, with take
away options and a move into the free trade. Beer Boxes are available
in 9, 18 or 36 pint sizes and will last up to seven days. The beer is
supplied bright with no need for settling. They will also
be doing fined beers, which will last up to two months but need to be
settled and kept cool. Ideally orders should be in advance but it is always
worth phoning to see if there is one ready in stock.
The first brewery in Crewe since the demise
of Woolf's brewery in 1923.
Based at an old farm dairy at Brimstage on
the Wirral, this is not strictly in Cheshire, but who's counting?
A new series of single varietal hop beers
began in July with Cascade Blonde. Incredibly, the hops are used in the
brewing kettle, late hops are also added, the beer is then dry hopped
and yet more hops are added in the fermenting vessel!
Coach House hold the 2001 award for Champion Beer of Cheshire, with Postlethwaite. This coveted prize was won at the Macclesfield Beer Festival.
Former head brewer at Greenall Whitley, Neil Chantrell was responsible for creating such delights as Greenalls Original. When Greenalls ceased brewing in 1991 he and three other ex employees purchased some of the brewing plant that they were scrapping, and Coach House rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Greenalls Brewery.
Dunham Massey Brewing Company is a small
family run craft brewery located on National Trust land in the town of
Dunham Massey, just outside the Cheshire boundary and set up in late 2006
in October 2007 John Costello brewed his first batch of Big Tree Bitter (3.9%) and Deer Beer (4.5%). And it wasn't too long until these
were joined with Dunham Massey's other regular beer, Stamford Bitter (4.2%), and the seasonal ale, Dunham Massey Winter Warmer (6.6%).
More news from one of our new craft brewers,
Dunham Massey. A 4.2%, 'Stout' is now available. It is described
as a creamy, full bodied, all English, dry stout, with a classic bitter,
burnt, dark roast flavour. Cask conditioned Stout has been distributed
to a few pubs already with the remainder of the brew being made available
at the brewery shop in bottle conditioned (Real Ale in a Bottle) form.
First reports are that this is a terrific beer.
Further accolades; Chocolate Cherry Mild (3.8%) was voted Beer of the Festival at a recent Essex CAMRA Beer Festival,
being praised as "an excellent full flavoured mild." This follows
a Bronze Award for the same beer at Stockport Beer Festival. John's success
has resulted in a request from the organizers of the Great British Beer
Festival in August for his Chocolate Cherry Mild on draught and two bottled-conditioned
beers (Deer Beer and Dark Mild) for the Real Ale in a Bottle outlet. This
is almost unheard of for such a newly-established Brewery. John has produced
a further new beer; Little Bollington Ale (3.7%).
Real ale in a bottle is also available from the brewery shop.
Based in Frodsham. and formerly known as Station House. The plans for opening a micro-brewery started in 2004 when the brewer Barrie Davidson and his wife Hazel decided to open a micro-brewery. Barrie left his job as a Community Regeneration Officer with a local authority and decided to attend a practical brewing course at BREWLAB, University of Sunderland.
Barrie and Hazel's plans were to open a brewery in the area where they lived and persisted in trying many sites to locate their brewery. Consequently the name "Station House" came from original plans to open a brewery at a redundant railway station in Frodsham. The brewery produces a range of core beers, seasonal and monthly specials, all named by the brewer, however starting in January 2008 there will be a competition to name a beer for each village in the Frodsham Forward area (Helsby, Manley, Frodsham, Alvanley and Norley). These beers will become core beers from the brewery.
1st Lite 3.8% A robust, full flavoured, pale bitter
beer, with grapefruit and varying citrus tones, and 'stay in the mouth'
after taste. Made with Halcyon malt and late hopped with three American
The Khean Brewing
Co was set up by Ken Newsome, local CAMRA member and beer enthusiast using
a five-barrel plant in an industrial unit off Royle Street in the centre
of Congleton. The name was a combination of "Ken" and his wife's initials.
Some of the beers were reviewed by our enthusiastic memebrs as follows;
Khean Brewing began
to bottle its beers, starting with the 4.2% Caught Behind stout.
It was bottle conditioned, too. I was able to try some at a Holly Tree
Farm tasting event where it was very well received.
Northern puts the Soul back into Halton's Brewing Heritage
Northern Brewing Ltd was set up in the Runcorn
Old Town close to the station, run by Colin Stubbs. The plant has a capacity
of 5 barrels and was formerly used by the now defunct Orchard Brewery
We hear that the two latest beers are Soul Rider (4%) and Twist & Stout. This latter was brewed as a special but is expected to become a regular. The operation moved to Blakemere Craft Centre in 2005.
Northern Brewery continues to expand its range of specials with a series named after famous dogs! There have also been some other one-off beers. Macclesfield Beer Festival 2008 also produced a prize for Northern who took 2nd for Hit and Run (4.5%). Northern beers are available from their shop at Blakemere Craft Centre and on-line via their website.
This operation began in June 2005, with the beers appearing in pubs in Chester, comprising Thirst Quencher (3.9%), Special Ale (4.2%), Old Wavertonian (4.4%) a stout and Basket Case, a winter ale at 4.8%. Sightings have included Old Harker's Arms, Telford's Warehouse, the Plough at Christleton, and the Nag's Head at Lavister.
Spitting Feathers have opened their first pub; the Brewery Tap; in Bridge Street, Chester. It sells a range of no fewer than four of their own beers plus guest three beers and a real cider in what sounds like superb surroundings; a must visit.
Hugh & Dave produce an impressive portfolio
of traditional beers with Ale Force (1040) being the biggest seller.
A new brewery in Wincle opened in summer 2008. While Wincle is in Cheshire, the brewery is now located on a farm just over the border from Staffordshire. The first Wincle beers have now appeared in Cheshire and Staffordshire pubs.
Woodlands Brewing Company was set up in Wrenbury
(close to the former Paradise Brewery) by John Skeaping.
John bought Woodlands Farm near Wrenbury a year and a half ago and discovered a spring in a peat field. Tests revealed that the water was rich in minerals and once John had been put in touch with Ken, trial brews were made. Woodlands Bitter is said to have some of the qualities of Bass, a beer that John used to take great care of in the cellar when he ran a free house.
Khean's founder, Ken Newsome has been acting as a consultant to the new operation. Ken decided to close down his one-man operation in Congleton. Although it had been profitable and had produced some delightful beers, the workload was very high for one person.
Woodlands Brewing take great care to look after all the old Khean Brewing outlets but plans to expand the operation. Output is likely to double.
More information on the beer range and a history of the
operation can be found on their website.
Cases of their real ales in bottle can be ordered on-line. Woodlands Brewery
Company can also be reached by E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or by telephoning 01270-780730.
Woodlands Brewing are expanding their range of Cheshire-brewed
real ales. It now includes the following;
The beers may be found at various times at some of the following pubs;
Woodlands have had enormous success with Midnight Stout
and so far there are three pubs who have taken this in place of Guinness.
It was tasted at the Congleton Leisure Centre Beer Festival and was superb.