The brewers are back

In Wellington we’re fortunate to have three butchers, a couple of locally-based market gardeners, and even a goldsmith. But as micro-breweries have taken off elsewhere in Shropshire over the past 20 years, brewer is one of those typical market town crafts we’ve been missing – until now. A few weeks ago it was announced that the Ironbridge Brewery would be moving to Wellington (hops, stock and barrels) early next year. With the lease on their Ironbridge site coming to its end, proprietor Dave Goldingay says he and his team decided to bite the bullet and make a move to somewhere new.

The Pheasant, Market Street, as it looks today

The Pheasant, Market Street, as it looks today

They’ll be setting up at The Pheasant in Market Street. It’s been on sale for some time, and in need of a facelift for a lot longer still. This won’t be the first Ironbridge Brewery pub – they’ve had The Fighting Cocks at Oakengates for several years – but this time proprietor Dave is bringing the whole brewery with him. It will be installed at the former function room behind the pub, where the 10,800 pint-a-week operation will be visible to drinkers from the courtyard garden – an attraction in itself.

The location is an appropriate one, opposite the site of The Wrekin Brewery – Wellington’s biggest and best known brewery - which opened in Market Street in 1870 and closed in the early 1960s. That marked the end of commercial brewing Wellington, so after fifty years away, it’ll be a welcome return.

The old Wrekin Brewery, Market Street

The old Wrekin Brewery, Market Street

So what sort of pub will The Pheasant be under Dave’s stewardship? He’s very clear that there will ‘definitely not be any TVs, or pool table, or fruit machines, or juke boxes and there will never be any karaoke or open mic EVER!’ There might be some occasional entertainment, but he’s thinking more along the lines of folk nights and jazz bands. Aside from some lunchtime meals, Dave plans for The Pheasant to be ‘all about the beer and the company’. And as a brewery tap that’s probably as it should be.

‘We’re going to focus on providing quality beers and wines in a comfortable environment. A place to come and relax and catch up with friends over a decent pint. We very much subscribe to the idea that the pub is the original social networking site!’

Once they’re up and running, the Brewery will be introducing ‘Wrekin Best Bitter,’ a nod to Market Street’s brewing forebear. It’ll join Ironbridge’s existing line up of Wrekin Pale Ale, Ironbridge Blonde, Wenlock Stout and their best seller Ironbridge Gold. Dave and friends will also continue to brew a special every month and will be brewing some new lagers in time for the summer.

Pheasant exterior_snap

Above: Just some idle digital doodling from me – two ideas for colour schemes that could spruce the place up. I’m sure Dave will have his own plans.

So – in early 2014, Wellington not only gets one of its old pubs revived but also a new bit of artisan industry to go with it. I really believe this is what the town needs to major on if it’s going to carve out a realistic niche for itself – a town where good things get made as well as just generic things getting sold. Good luck Dave, and we’ll look forward to seeing you in a few months.