Trip to Joules Brewery

A Brewery Trip to Market Drayton

 

Visiting a pub I regularly used in Chester I discovered that they were having their regular trip to Joules brewery but no date had been fixed. Well, what was one to do? A brewery I had not visited, beer and food, no contest; put my name down and that of one of my friends.

It was then at the beginning of April that I was given the date and asked for the payment which was a very reasonable £15; this was for beer food and coach. So came the day and we wound our way via our public transport system to the Cross Keys in Lower Bridge Street, Chester, for a coach journey to Market Drayton in Shropshire and after a quick pint off we went.

The journey took around an hour and ten minutes and my first thought on arrival was “I’m impressed” since, in reality, this brewery had only been in existence since 2010. Okay, it uses a brand name which is centuries old but it stopped existing as a brand in the 1970s.

The brewery is situated behind the Red Lion in Market Drayton on what was a former green field site, the plant producing twenty five brewery barrels a time and it brews every day except weekends. The water used in the brewing process comes from a well situated 60 metres below the car par which they sank when they built the brewery. It uses the tower system and mainly British barley and hops, the company also now owns forty or more pubs in the West Midlands, Shropshire, Cheshire and two in North Wales. At present they are also contract brewing for Everard’s, mainly the seasonal beers, but rumour says this will stop this autumn.

Four beers were available in their tap room and my selection was Long Shot, 4.42% and their World Cup seasonal. We then had a talk by one of their area managers who gave us a short history and the company philosophy, then giving us a piece of bad news that they would only serve the one pint and after that we would just have to serve ourselves! We were then divided into those who wished to tour the brewery and those who had been before. We did have time for another pint prior to the tour though.

Our Brewery Guide was a local CAMRA member of the Telford Branch, someone I had met before but over 22 years ago. After a very short health and safety brief we climbed the 71 steps up the tower to the barley store, then made our way down again via the different brewing and storage levels to the casking area. The guide certainly seemed to know his facts and answered most questions asked. People say that every brewery is the same but I find this not to be the case, each one has its oddities; some more than others.

So we returned to the tap room which, by the way, is a good old fashioned room with wooden panelling and a  wood burning stove. Fresh pork baps with stuffing and apple sauce and gravy were available for us meat eaters.

They were in no hurry to get rid of us, both the area manager and the guide wandered around  tables answering questions and asking if everything was alright which, after many brewery trips, I found to be satisfying. Many other brewery guides and employees seem to disappear thirty minutes after the trip ends. A few more beers were consumed in this time.

Five o’clock came around and it was time to leave so we said our goodbyes reluctantly, well we were on free beer after all! The coach took us on a thirty five minute trip to the White Horse in Overton, near Wrexham, funnily enough another Joules tied house and as we left the coach we were given a ticket for a free pint; oh dear! Ninety minutes were spent here and another pint was consumed during this time.

It was then back on the bus time and a thirty minute journey, then off bus into the Cross Keys where, of course, there was a pint and some sandwiches on the house then an hour’s bus journey back home.

Moral of this tale? I think I’ll go on the next one. Oh and thanks Joules for the hospitality