An update from your friendly local ale taster

Jerry Baily was appointed Wellington’s ale taster earlier in the year. During his two year term, he’ll be promoting local food and drink – that means encouraging the town’s businesses to stock it and we customers to buy it. In the second of his updates, he tells us what he’s been getting his teeth into of late…

It is now over 2 months since I became the new Ceremonial Ale Taster of Wellington: what have I been up too?

During March I opened (along with MP Mark Wright) the sensitively refurbished ‘Elephant and Castle’ in Dawley: I have known John and Tanya Ellis (new owners of the said public house) for many years and fully expect this Real Ale venture to be as successful as their first pub, The Crown Inn at Oakengates.

Jerry at DawleyOn Saturday 21st April my cape came out again: this time I helped promote the opening of a new café in Wellington’s Market Square. Propriotor Steve Golden explained his business plan of intending to keep his prices the keenest in town; while ensuring good value for money no matter what you order from him or his staff.

Jerry at The Coffee Den

Trips to The Black Country and Eccleshall with the local CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) branch saw me imbibing some fantastic beers. A train journey intoWalesenabled my wife and I too visit the CAMRA UK Pub of the Year at Ruabon: the excellent ‘Bridge End Inn’ was a joy to discover and we’ll be re-visiting again soon. A weekend inLondonwas also fitted in: my son’s engagement party, a couple of markets and a pub crawl made the time fly by, emptying my wallet even quicker though.

My drinking within the boundaries of Wellington (without cape) during the last two months has seen me use a variety of the town’s public houses, and with the following positive observations:

  • Park Hotel: Now offering four Real Ales and although none of them have been local brews whenever I’ve visited; the quality and choice have ensured I’ve always stayed longer than intended.
  • Old Orleton: Hobson’s beers from Cleobury Mortimer always in fine form and becoming popular during the early evening with drinkers and diners alike. There is currently a ‘Happy Hour’ promotion at the bar which has helped to encourage more to frequent this lovely hotel.
  • White Lion: Tiggy and Gill seem to have grown a regular clientele since opening in December: the beer quality and their friendliness being the main reasons: Shropshire brewed beers from Six Bells and Three Tuns (bothBishopsCastlebreweries) and Salopian where all available on my last visit.
  • Wrekin Inn: Always a good selection of Real Ales on sale: they have introduced some interesting bar food. Tiger Prawns fried in the beer batter of your choice: I choose ‘Holden’s Golden Glow’ as my batter, to go with the pint I had in my hand. Beer bread, olives, balsamic vinegar and other unusual offerings (forWellingtonpubs) are worth investigating.
  • Cock Hotel: Still the main Real Ale outlet to beat: constantly changing beers from around the country and often from our county. My wife has taken to Belgian beers in a big way; so the bottled selection here suits her needs perfectly. On the food front they are intending to provide up-market cold platters of local cheeses and pâté on slates for lunch and early evenings.
  • William Withering: The new ‘Spoons’ seems very popular with all female parties who use it to eat in, they obviously feel at ease in here, and the competitive prices of course help. Real Ale wise, I can’t fault it, apart from one aspect: the beer is always in good condition and a good choice, my gripe is the kitchen smells reach too far into the actual pub and I have to move towards the front of the room before I can sit down to enjoy my pint.

All six pubs mentioned have something an Ale Taster can recommend and I hope whoever reads this considers visiting at least one of them soonest.Wellington’s pubs need support and it is the people ofWellingtonwho must use them: or you’ll lose them!

I’ve also noted that both ‘The Eastern Balti’ and ‘The Taj Mahal’ in Wellington are stocking bottles of Shropshire Lad (Woods Brewery, Winstanstow) as an alternative for their customers: I was really pleased to see this and have obviously availed myself with one on each visit since discovering the fact.

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