Exam results are out today, with my son’s Maths and Sciences results (well done James) reminding me of my own prowess. Physics CSE Grade 4 means I should know there’s water in beer, even if I don’t know whether the notation is h2o or co2.
As should be obvious by now, my lack of analytical powers extends to beers, and I’m slightly bemused my recent post was hijacked for an entertaining analysis of Banks’s Mild (thank you Dave).
My night out in Bewdley gave me the chance to test the Mild close to home territory, and as helpfully noted by Richard, compare handpump and electric pump side-by-side. That’s a challenge I couldn’t resist. As long as there was a curry at the end.
So it was that, after a five hour journey from Dereham in Norfolk, I made my friend Charles walk past a dozen exciting looking pubs to two basic looking locals on the eastern edge of town. The Waggon and Horses is an exemplar community local, with a really good mix of trade, though few takers for a giant bouncy castle.
The interior is typical unmodernised Black Country, but the pleasant garden was the place to be. You can’t underestimate the appeal of a pub garden without food detritus in it. Cobs in the day, carvery on Sunday is a winning formula.
The Mild was chestnut brown, refreshing but a little thin, and reminded me a bit of drinking Mann’s Brown Ale (NBSS 3). I might have felt slightly happier about it if Charles hadn’t been on the Bathams, the pick of a free house with the best from the Marston’s range. To be honest, it looked like half the punters, male and female, were on the Bathams (and no halves either).
The Rising Sun is two minutes away and cut from the same cloth, but daringly offers the Mild on electric pump. I assume the Original is the same as the Mild anyway, and can’t be bothered to research for you.
Served in a giant oversized glass, this looked fuller-bodied and tasted superb (NBSS 4). That suggests to me the brewery are doing their job even if some pubs can’t get the best out of it. I’d have been quite happy to drink this Mild again, though perhaps the lack of competition on the pumps is a factor.
Nothing wrong with Wye Valley, but I suspect the custom here is more loyal to the Mild when the option is Butty Bach than it might be if the option was Bathams.
The pub itself is a smaller version of the Waggon and Horses, only lacking that all-important bouncy castle. It does however add pork pies to the menu (and excellent they are too).
Two great little free houses, full of laughter and beer-drinking on a Wednesday evening, and attractive inside and out. No sign of the craft invasion here.
Two observations on Banks’s Mild. It’s a decent beer if enough people drink it, which of course is true of pretty much every beer nowadays. I bet it’s superb in the Combermere. Further, your perception of your beer is deeply affected by what other folk are enjoying.
We stopped for another Bathams at the Waggon and Horses. It was nectar.
More on Bewdley later.
18 thoughts on “BANKS’S MILD IN BEWDLEY”
Great to read this entry! You have made me very thirsty. Especially for Bathams. Is their beer typically very regional? I can’t remember seeing it anywhere.
I share your sentiment on the Banks’s Mild. I did enjoy the one I had. I tend to like low hopped beers though. I learned a lot through this whole exchange. I previously had no idea there were still this many types of mild available.
I don’t believe I have ever been served with an electric dispense. Do you think the method affects the beer?
Bathams seems to be the exclusive property of the Black Country ! A very rare guest beer but often seen in the best beer festivals.
Interesting question on electric dispense. It shouldn’t make any difference. My recollection of electric is positive (as last night) but I think that’s more due to high volumes meaning cool well-conditioned beer.
The number of comments regarding Bathams got me thinking. (Remember, some of us only get to enjoy these beers in person once a year, twice if we’re lucky, and three times if things are going great.) Since I have never seen Bathams I looked around at their site and read a bit about them. I also wondered how many other brewers there are that are of this size, they don’t seem small, that stay this regionalized. Most I can think of like Batemans or Theakstons I see fairly widely distributed. Palmers comes to mind for me. I have only seen it in Dorset. Even someone like Hobson I see in other regions. Are there others like Bathams that come to mind for you? Great regionalized brewers is what I refer to. Their existence makes one want to visit the area.
I’m with you Dave, I like breweries where you have to visit their area. Pub Curmudgeon will think of a few.
Donnington spring to mind (NOT a favourite), Palmers you mention, Whim, Teignworth, Tring for starters, though some of those don’t onwn many pubs.
I’m interested in the hand pulled v electric? I remember my as a kid my old man’s pub went on to electric pumps. They were the Mills Spheromatic. The ale was still in wooden casks 36’s or at busy periods Hogsheads, which were a work of art to get down the drop – full block & tackle job on a hook from the chassis of the dray wagon. The beer was real ale, it just got pulled up by a small electric beer engine rather than by hand. Progress? I don’t know, it sustained, probably at a time when other places were going keg. Although a lot of S.Yorks clubs and really big pubs went tank with John’s, who lent the money for the club reforms/upkeep and became essentially tied. How many pubs get their ale delivered in Hogsheads now (54’s)? It’s all flipping Firkins!
The Mild on electric tasted like they get through a lot of it; WhatPub told me I scored it equally highly on a previous visit which is reassuring.
Beer sales might be (just about) holding up year-on-year but if that’s spread over more handpumps then beer quality must suffer surely ?
Thank you very much for the handpump/electric report. Bewdley has been in our(brothers Dave and Dick) travel discussions in the past. The fact that you rated the Mild at the Rising Sun that high, twice, makes it and Bewdley a must to visit. Congratulations to James.
Holdens are another small Black Country brewer/ pub owner, about a dozen pubs I think.
Titanic have about 10 in Staffordshire.
Yes,they’re very much cut from the same cloth, as are Joules, though you do see quite a bit of Holdens and Titanic in the free trade (Plum Porter seemed to everywhere in the UK early this year !).
Titanic I have seen around. Holdens I don’t think I have ever seen. Thanks for the list. I had read a lot about Donningtons prior to my having it. I agree with your reaction.
Holden’s Golden Glow is the one that appears as a guest most often, and they often show up on Wetherspoons Beer Festivals. Breweries which stick to a core range (Mild and Bitter) much less likely to be on ‘Spoons lists it seems !
Joules have expanded pretty quickly with funding from the Co-op Bank. I must confess I find their house design -style pretty samey and I’m not a massive fan of the beer either, but they must be doing something right.
There’s certainly a similarity in style, though it’s one I like.