Introducing the first of what I plan to make a regular slot within my blog…
Name: Stonehouse Brewery
Location: Oswestry, Shropshire
Brewer’s details: Shane Parr has had a keen interest in brewing since he was 16. He fell in love with British cask ales shortly after arriving in the UK in 2000 and was so smitten he decided not to go home.
What’s their story?: The brewery was set up in 2007, after Shane (having married a Welsh woman, Alison) took over the kitchen of their shared home in Oswestry to hone his brewing skills. Favourable feedback from drinkers saw him go pro with the help of his wife and in laws. It seems to have paid off; they took seven awards at the SIBA regional competition at Ludlow Castle in May including two golds; one for Station Bitter and one for Kingston Flyer KPA. Station was also awarded the Bronze award in the overall competition – out of 150 entrants.
The beers: It was no surprise to me that Station Bitter and Kingston Flyer KPA won these awards as they are my two favourites of the Stonehouse range.
Station Bitter is a fruity, dry bitter with plenty of body that makes it seem more than its 3.9% ABV – but its lower strength is welcome as it is definitely one of those beers that shouts MORE!
Kingston Flyer KPA (4.6%) is a delicate, malty pale ale with a biscuitty flavour shot through with gentle notes of tangerine and mandarin. Its healthy, rounded bitterness is brought out splendidly if you pair it with Chinese food (think light, chicken and noodle dishes).But with or without food it is a refreshing, drinkable beer that makes you want more.
Stonehouse also brews a lovely wheat beer called Wheeltappers (4.5%) which has an enticing aroma, of vanilla, cloves and lemon which carries through into the taste; and a tasty golden ale called Cambrian Gold (4.2%) a malty beer with a fruit salad character (melon, grape and kiwi on the nose and subtly in the flavour too) that went well with breaded haddock, jacket potato and peas.
My least favourite of their range (which is not to say it is a bad beer!) is Off the Rails a 4.8% premium bitter that came across as having porter-like qualities; one to try if you’re in the mood for something a little darker with a chocolatey character.
Verdict: Stonehouse Brewery is as good a reason as any to take a trip to Shropshire. All of their beers are worth trying, but beware – if you discover your favourite early on then you may not try the rest! They are moreish, captivating beers that work well with food or as a standalone pint (or measure of your choice) when you fancy one. If you don’t try some of their beers you are definitely missing out.
Brewery website: http://www.stonehousebrewery.co.uk/index.php