I have very little interest in beer, or the process of making it. The only possible purpose of a brewery tour is the chance to get the beer the way intended at the end.

Someone left the beer out in the rain

But hats off to Banks’s (a.k.a. Marston’s) whose tour I joined along with a small bunch of pubby ne’er-do-wells last Wednesday.


The tour will mainly be of interest to those of you who like walking past giant metal vessels wearing a yellow fluorescent jacket and enjoy the smell of malt.  I’m sure you can read all the technical specs and stuff in Richard Coldwell’s beautiful report.

Something beery in there
Don’t touch No. 5 !
A technical name, apparently

I was just surprised how old-fashioned it all was, given this is the biggest cask factory in the world. A remarkably cheerful place, though the Wanderers being on the brink of the Premiership may have something to do with that.  Frankly our guide Alex, originating from Sunderland, had no right to be as cheery as he was.

Rainy back streets of beer

Alex may not have been a former Head Brewer, but he was well-informed, and remarkably candid about the business side of Marston’s, and freely gave his views on the best places to drink in Wolves.  I liked him a lot, except when he admitted they may make Bass and Pedi here.

Possibly Bass

For what it’s worth, I reckoned the Brewery Bar has the best beer in town.  They put on fresh barrels for each day’s tour group, and the freshness showed.

As good as it gets


Annoyingly, Richard has much better photos than me again.  But he didn’t have the better beer.  Alex poured my Pint of Mild (neck to the bottom of the glass), and out came the beer of the year so far (NBSS 4.5).


Other folk poured their own into half-pint glasses, compounding their folly.

Spot the difference

Unless you’re invisible* and can sneak in and help yourself, you’ll have to go on the tour to get a pint of this amber (no pun) nectar.  But if you want to see how good our most unheralded beer can be, you really should.



*This blog in no way condones invisibility.

25 thoughts on “BANKS’S – IT’S ALL IN THE PULL

  1. “Someone left the beer out in the rain”

    And it took so long to brew it , right? 🙂

    “A technical name, apparently”

    I’ve always wondered where nipples came from. 😉

    “As good as it gets”

    And I like how they spell it “Banks’s”.

    “Spot the difference”

    Easy to ‘spot’ – it’s all in the spots, innit?

    And yes, looks like a beaut to have a pint in with mates. (thumbs up)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get an advance copy, Fred, and can confirm that “Our Tav” has again been overlooked as one of the 5 cricketers of the year in favour of Steve Smith and that 14 year old who scored 971 in a schools match.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thought that you were wanting to ensure that the likes of Aggers and Boycs were not slagging him off.
        Didn’t realise that he is still seeking honours ; stick him forward for an MBE, as more than five of those are dished out annually.
        Russ could put this blog forward for honours, but RM MBE sounds like the name of a non-league football team.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Given that Alex wasn’t a brewer, I do wonder whether his assertion that they “can and have” brewed Bass and Pedigree was a bit of a case of “we have the technology” rather than a description of something that actually happened more than once in a blue moon.

    One thing that struck me is that, unlike most other breweries I’ve been round, there wasn’t a little board on each fermenting vessel stating what beer was in there. Maybe it’s all on computer now.

    I think Greene King at Bury St Edmunds may just pip it for the biggest cask beer brewery in the world, but I don’t know for certain. That title once belonged to the now-defunct M&B Cape Hill Brewery in Birmingham.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Alex did NOT strike me as “well-informed” but that wasn’t a problem with him “explaining he was not a brewer, but would find out for us anything he didn’t know”. His “can do and have done” came across to me as a positive attitude rather than a statement of fact. Matching the proper Burton Bass and Pedigree in Wolverhampton could not be done easily, as with the Leeds Tetleys, and I have not known of Marstons Burton Brewery being short of capacity for their core beers. Without doing anything for Marstons, Jennings, Ringwood, Wychwood or Brakspear I would have thought the “thirteen or fourteen beers” brewed in Wolverhampton to be something like Banks’s Mild, Banks’s Amber, Banks’s Sunbeam, Banks’s Barley Gold, Mansfield Original, Mansfield Smooth, Tetleys Mild, Tetleys Bitter, Tetley’s Gold, Lancaster Bomber, Wainwright, Shipyard American IPA, Shipyard Pale Ale, Shipyard Rye, Devils Backbone.
      And I would agree that GK’s Westgate Brewery is probably the largest cask brewery but Marstons, with their several sites, is the largest cask ale brewer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, put my name down for the Westgate Brewery.
        Sadly for Northampton next month though Carlsberg tell us “Unfortunately there are no tours of the Brewery at this time”. The morning in the Wetherspoons it will have to be.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A small group of us did our own tour of Hook Norton in 1995. On leaving, we asked a random chap outside if we were allowed to have a look round. “Oh no definitely not”.

        We could do a similar thing in Carlsberg, surely. I think they brew Punk IPA but be good to check.


  3. I know this will upset all bloggers and readers of your blog Martin.
    I do not understand why you all bang on about Bass,the brewery closed down well over 10 years ago making it no more, just a brand name,it does not really matter if it is brewed at Marstons or Banks’s brewery in Wolverhampton as it will never be like it was,i was never a fan of it in the first place always served too flat for my liking.
    I know i may have to go into hiding after this but i really do not understand the allure of Bass.
    Give me Donnington SBA or BB still brewed at Donnington brewery or Palmers Best Bitter, 200 or Copper still brewed at Palmers brewery any day.
    Yes i have put my tin hat on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a legitimate question, Alan, and Richard may well agree with you.

      I bang on a bout Bass because at its best it is still the best beer in the world. And there’s enough publicans who think that and keep it well to enable me to drink it close to that standard. I guess Bass never got to Nottingham in any great volumes, but as Ian (Lifeafterfootball) reports, there’splenty of great Bass around Derby.

      And I have no interest at all in who makes it or where it comes from !


      1. It’s not the beer it was before Bass Charrington cut costs by getting rid of the Burton Unions but it’s still a nice drink. If the multinationals can’t be bothered with cask beer it’s good that the new nationals can.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Exactly. It’s not the same beer it was in 1893, either. I just don’t care about history and provenance, but I do like a quality drink in a characterful pub. I still have to write about the Dead Poets in Holbrook near Belper, a model Bass serving pub. You’d love it, Paul.


      3. When it’s good, it’s still an excellent beer, and one that fits in with my personal palate. And it’s a unique icon of our brewing heritage.


    2. My thoughts about Bass in a nutshell Alan (and not the pub in Bury St Edmonds). Might disagree about Palmers, although, if properly kept and on top form’ it can be very pleasant. My favourite Palmers brew is Tally Ho, by a country mile. Mind you, even a traditional brewer like Palmers has changed the branding on the Best Bitter to ‘IPA’. I bet that’s fooled plenty who think an IPA is a US styled pale beer. It is a decent Strong English Bitter though, but they have to be selling plenty and observe good cellar skills to keep it right. Colmer’s the summer beer they do is a nice take on a modern style by an old skool brewer too.


  4. I suppose it is each to our own.
    Once GK took over Kimberley Brewery and closed it down i stopped drinking the Gk fake version of Kimberley Bitter and Mild.
    You are correct in there not being much Bass in Nottingham and the Bass tied houses that were there 7 in the City Centre all sold keg only.
    It is no surprise that you can still get Bass in Derby as it had about 60 tied houses there in the early 80s.
    Nottingham had 23 tied houses in the city at the same time split between Shipstones, Home Ales and Kimberley.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “GK took over Kimberley Brewery and closed it down” but the blame for that lies with the Hardys and Hansons shareholders who decided it was easier just to sell up than to keep a still profitable brewery brewing.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hee hee. I’ve read the comments and there is only me and Alan Winfield who can see through the smoke and mirrors of lies that is Marstons PLC. The tour guide, although not a brewer, was erudite and articulate, indeed he mentioned he was a retired school teacher. I think he was quite clear when he said, in answer to Martin’s question of, Have you ever brewed Bass or Pedigree here?’ – ‘Yes, we have’.

    I did not take him to mean they brewed it there all the time, I’m sure they don’t, but his words were quite clear, ‘Yes we have’. Probably as the ‘non Union brewed’ portion of Bass or Pedigree that makes up the final brew you get in the pub. I’m quoting a contributor to my own account of the day called ‘qq’, so I don’t know who they are or how accurate they are, but I can believe it.


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