Brewers dismiss proposed minimum price plans

Brewers in Staffordshire do not expect to be affected by Government plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price.

Titanic Brewery, which is based in Burslem and owns six pubs in the area, suggest that the price changes will only affect the cheapest alcohol.
David Bott, 53, who runs the brewery with his younger brother Keith, doesn’t expect the Government plans — to introduce a minimum of 40p per unit — to affect his business. Continue reading

Burslem Brewery Brew TV Quiz Beer

Burslem based brewery Titanic, have brewed a special one off beer to celebrate the appearance of Staffordshire Landlady Karen Malkin on The Weakest Link.

Karen Malkin of the Marquis of Granby, Ipstones, is to appear on BBC One’s The Weakest Link on Monday, 24 May. The pub regularly features guest ales brewed by Titanic from nearby Stoke-on-Trent, and the brewery has arranged for a special supply of one off brew Karen’s Ale to be served at the Church Lane pub on the day of the screening.

Director Dave Bott said, The Marquis is a great community pub and is at the heart of village life, and we were delighted to be able to join in the fun for Karen’s big day. Karen’s Ale is a full bodied deep red-brown beer with a hoppy bitterness balanced by roast malt flavours to produce a rounded finish. At a strength of 5.3 per cent Karen’s Ale is a strongest link among beers.’

‘Arrangements were made with my husband, Justin, but they have had to let me in on it before the big day,’ said Karen. ‘We are planning to show the programme on the pub’s large screen and will put on a buffet for our regular customers.’

Brewery bosses have arranged for a special pump clip featuring Karen to be displayed on the bar.”

‘I am keen on quizzes although I often take on the Ann Robinson role when we hold them at the Marquis, we have organised several charity quiz nights for the people of Ipstones raising funds for charity groups.’ added Karen.

Karen is not allowed to reveal how she did on the night, only commenting that she was “pleased and a little surprised” by her performance.

And, she added, ‘I am in a bit of an odd position as the BBC were meant to screen the show on the day that Gordon Brown resigned. They ran a special news broadcast instead of The Weakest Link. But the programme still appeared on the BBC iplayer for a few hours and I know some people in Ipstones have seen it.’

A clue to the outcome may perhaps be revealed on the special pump clip which features the strapline “The strongest link.”

The Famous Lion Stoke Pub Review

Since opening, The Famous Lion has become a favourable addition to Stoke City Centre’s sparse pub scene.

It is a fine example of a modern pub and a sharp contrast to The Wheatsheaf Wetherspoon across the road.

This former furniture shop has a smart exterior, whilst a spacious bar area welcomes you with its comfortable leather couches and non deafening plasma screen. The interior is contemporary, innovative and extremely well kept with plenty of distinctive touches. Whether it be the themed artwork, unusual fireplace, or stained lion head glass windows, a great deal of endeavour has gone in to creating a unique experience. To the side, the bar expands in to a surprisingly sizable drinking and dining area with a pleasant beer garden at the rear. Comfortable, rather than spectacular, it’s impressive how the space has been utilised. Although a lengthy distance involving a steep staircase, the toilets befit the commendable effort elsewhere.

Customers were a little short in numbers during the review period, although we’re reliably informed that the weekend discos are popular. Suits from the local offices frequent on weekday lunchtimes, although it was concerning being the only customers there during Saturday lunchtime. Maybe it was owing to the food, which is unremarkable pub fare, being non existent due to illness. Reputable punters create a livelier atmosphere in the evening. Thankfully this isn’t the kind of venue to attract mindless ruffians so don’t expect youths downing shots and flirting outrageously as a predominantly middle aged crowd gather.

The beer on offer was the one significant cause of disgruntlement. The sight of three handpumps is encouraging but during our visits only one was in use. The fact that the ale available is a changing guest offers some consolation but the dissatisfaction lies with the unused handpumps by its side. The lack of ale leaves you with no alternatives other than identikit lagers or bland spirits.

The Famous Lion exceeds expectations and is thoroughly worth a visit. It’s vastly superior to many of the other City centre’s offerings and deserves respect for it’s sophisticated appearance and ambience. As mentioned, it’s a sharp contrast to its nearest competition in The Wheatsheaf and Last Orders, and we urge you to give it a try.

Ratings

Drink – **
Atmosphere – ***1/2
Surroundings – ****
Staff – ***

The Talbot Stoke Pub Review

Upon mentioning I was popping to the Last Orders, I was met with a furrowed brow. A reputation preceded it as a soulless pub with no ale. Upon approach, my expectations rose as I observed that its designation had transformed since my last visit, the month previous. Last Orders had indeed been served, and the pub has reverted to its former guise as The Talbot, a pub with a reputation as a lively music venue. Indeed, the situation has improved, although not significantly so.

Witness the exterior and The Talbot gives the impression of being a small traditional pub. However, once inside, an unexpectedly long and well-lit bar room greets you. Bright, clean and airy, it creates a decent first impression. The recent renovation has resulted in spruced up tables and chairs (Wetherspoon take note), and a shiny wooden flooring that matches the wooden bar. Photographs of football and boxing greats are strategically hung by the operational pool table at the rear.

The multitude of Plasma screens display the accustomed pub favourites, Sky Sports News and At The Races. This most appropriately represents the type of punter to be found. They’re an unreserved bunch who frequent the pub as regulars. There may not be an air of sophistication, but instead, plenty of friendly banter and background chatter

The perky bar staff are just as willing to serve newcomers as they are the aforementioned locals. This is a notable step up on the dour hospitality witnessed on previous outings to the Last Orders. Service with a genuine smile is forever valued, and although regulars are greeted by name, you won’t feel unwelcome.

Peer past the warm greeting and your face will likely drop, as a glance at what’s on offer stirs up levels of huge despair. John Smiths, Fosters and Carlsberg are all served in their “Ëœextra cold’ varieties as does the obligatory cheap cider, Strongbow. And that is it, no alternatives served at room temperature, and no Guinness, extra cold or otherwise. Outstanding for the Sahara desert, alas not a below freezing Stoke-on-Trent. Spirits are as similarly low-grade and unremarkable, although indisputably warmer! One can tolerate a pub without real ale and specialist liquor, yet the lack of options on offer here is rather frightful.

Bar this serious flaw, there’s not a great deal amiss with the Talbot. The introduction of some inspiring ale would obviously improve matters. However, not having too much awry doesn’t create a sterling pub, just a very mediocre one. With better alternatives situated not too far away, The Talbot may struggle to attract new punters.

Ratings

Drink – *
Atmosphere – **
Surroundings – **1/2
Staff – ***

Titanic Launches New Members’ Club For Customers

Lovers of good beer can now join a special club launched by the award winning Titanic Brewery.

The Titanic Brewery Club is setting sail as the Stoke-on-Trent based brewery celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Managing Director Keith Bott said, ‘Titanic Brewery has always been committed to engaging with our customers and our new club is designed to develop that relationship even further. Our philosophy is to provide local drinkers with what they want ““ good beer brewed locally. It has been said that we brew beer that we want to drink and any that is left over we sell.’

People signing up to the club will pay £35 a year, but members will receive an annual gift box including Titanic ales, an exclusive shirt and other memorabilia.

Other benefits will include complimentary tickets to quarterly Members’ Days, a newly launched Titanic Brewery Club Card which gives special discounts at shops, restaurants and leisure attractions, 10 per cent discount off takeaway beer at the pubs and the Brewery shop and invitations to special brewery events and away days.

The brewery, based at Lingard Street, Burslem, is run by brothers Keith and Dave Bott.

Dave said, ‘The business has a family feel and we know many of our customers personally. The Titanic Brewery Club will be a chance for us to get to know people even better ““ perhaps over a pint or two.’

Membership forms are on display at Titanic’s four pubs in Burslem, Stoke, Newcastle and Stone, from the brewery and by using the link below.

White Star Stoke Pub Review

Third to open of the Titanic Brewery’s small but delightful chain of houses, Stoke town centre’s The White Star would be a fine addition to any urban pub landscape. Although Stoke is one of the Six Towns’ more run-down areas its real ale scene is very much worth sampling, similar to Burslem in the density of pubs serving the holy grail.

Titanic houses have a pleasant, albeit similar, style. The White Star sees a well laid-out bar area complemented by copious seating, along with another smaller bar area upstairs. As is to be expected a fine range of Titanic beers is always available, which at the time of the latest visit (Christmas Eve) included the fearsome Wreckage at 7.2%. Those requiring something a little lighter will find Steerage, White Star and Captain Smith’s (amongst others) more to their taste, with a handful of guests adding up to 10 cask beers on tap. As with Titanic’s flagship Bulls Head in Burslem, all are described on hanging, interchangeable, wooden boards adjacent to the bar.

Service in the White Star is excellent and an unusual element is added by an American barmaid. What tempts this lady from the Land of the Free to Stoke town centre is unclear, but she ably upholds the standards of service set by her colleagues. Rambling and slightly Daily Mail-esque local real-ale gospel Potters Bar, produced by the Staffordshire branch of CAMRA, is available in the White Star – always a good sign. Snacks of oatcakes and cold platters are served at lunchtime.

Although located within a stone’s throw of a number of Stoke’s other less salubrious pubs – think Wetherspoon’s, for one – the clientale to be found here is a good mix including ‘more senior’ drinkers, office staff at lunchtime, beer monsters and the student element. Thankfully the less desirable minority is notable by its absence and the atmosphere is all the better for it. The weekend DJ, with his flashing disco lights straight out of the ’80s, is a little out of place in a pub like this, however.

To sum up, The White Star is a superb venue, ‘made’ by its fine local ale, great service and atmospheric interior furnishings. All that prevents it becoming Pubs in Staffordshire’s first five-star entrant is the DJ element and long trek to the the gents, along with an uncertainty amongst non-regulars concerning the upstairs bar’s status. Is it reserved for private parties or not? Those minor niggles aside, The White Star quite rightfully cements its place amongst the cream of the local pub crop.

Ratings

Drink – ****1/2
Atmosphere – ****
Surroundings – ****
Staff – ****1/2

Full Moon Rising

By Pits n Pots Reporter

A much-loved town-centre nightspot is to reopen its doors to revellers next week.

The Full Moon, in Newcastle, is due to welcome back customers to the venue on Friday, October 30, when an entertainment-packed opening weekend will begin.

The pub was a favourite spot for music fans and was on the circuit of bars associated with the “Ëœindie’ crowd and has been much-missed for its late-night antics.

But licenseee, our very own Matt Taylor, is vowing to bring the pub back to its former glory, as well as capitalising on previous strengths, a year almost to the day since it mysteriously closed last year.

Matt has reinstalled a stage, and is hoping to turn the Full Moon into one of the city’s leading live music venues, as well as offering discerning customers cask ales and ciders, plus several draught continental lagers including Lowenbrau and Leffe.

On Friday, the opening night will feature two leading local bands performing original material, plus acoustic guitarist Gareth Powell doing his quirky versions of popular indie and classic tunes. After the music played by a resident DJ will go on until 2am with indie and rock music into the early hours. Doors will be open from seven o’clock and the bands are on from nine, with a two pound charge for entry.

To continue with the party, the next day, October 31, will feature a Halloween party, with magician Ben Cardall doing “Ëœspooky’ close-up magic, a tarot reader, acoustic music from Haley Strangelove, indie/rock tunes from the DJ, all in a location done up in a style befitting a horror film set. It is free entry until 11pm and two pounds thereafter.

Matt hopes that the opening weekend will be the start of great times to come. He said:

“I was a loyal regular of the Full Moon for a good while until it closed down. I was absolutely gutted when I went out in Newcastle this time last year, dressed up in a Halloween get-up, and when we got to the Moon, it was shut.

“We are going to start off with live music on two nights: Chilled Out Wednesdays with a regular list of amazing local acoustic musicians, and Fridays featuring a range of diverse originals bands followed by DJ SweetJayne who used to be on the decks before the pub closed last year. Then on Saturdays we will have two alternating resident DJs with a slightly different feel than on a Friday.

“Eventually I also want to bring back the old open mike acoustic nights. I remember going to them years ago and they were some of the best of their kind.

“I know the Moon has been sorely missed, so I hope we will make a lot of people happy by doing what we’re doing. And if anyone has any ideas of how we can do things better, our ears are wide open to suggestions.”

The Full Moon opens on Friday, October 30, and entry on the night will cost £2. To keep up with what is on the agenda for coming weeks at the venue, join the Facebook group “We’re Bringing Back the Full Moon”.

ONLY 3 DAYS UNTIL FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND BEER!

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

There is now only three days to go until Stoke-on-Trent’s newest festival is born on the fourth of July.

Piccadilly Circus is due to take place from 12-10pm on Saturday, which organisers hope will be red-hot with rays, as well as with talent due on stage.

The event will get off the ground in Piccadilly, Hanley, and is being planned by landlord Matt Taylor, of the Unicorn Inn, along with music reviewers Stoke Sounds and local teacher, Sarah Smith, who works at Alsager High School.

Spectacles on the stage will range from family-friendly acts earlier in the day, to live and kicking rock bands going into the evening. The programme will include drama performances from Alsager High, Clough Hall High, four local theatre groups and a list of eight great local bands (see below for the full schedule).

As well as the performances on stage, plus lots going on at ground-level, with  close-up magic from Ben Cardall, face-painting to keep the kids entertained, and much more, the other appeal of the event is the beer festival.

An array of 20 ales from brewers including the local Titanic, London’s Fullers, as well as from micro-breweries spanning the UK will be on sale, plus real ciders and perries which will be provided by “Ëœproper pub’ campaigners CAMRA.

Organiser Matt Taylor said:

“We are really excited and think it’s going to be a great day. There really is something for everyone with performances from high school kids doing songs from the musicals to rock bands strutting around the stage and almost everything inbetween.

“We’ve also got a hog-roast planned, there’ll be a beach party with skateboarding demos organised by Dazed in Brunswick Street. And everyone can cool down with a beer, or something softer for the kids.”

To find out more about the festival join the Facebook group “Piccadilly Circus Stoke” or log onto www.myspace.com/piccadillycircusstoke. If you would like to get involved or sponsor the event you can contact the organisers at pcstoke@gmail.com.

Full event listing:

Stage

12-4pm

Clough Hall High

Alsager High

Stoke Youth Musical Theatre Company

Five Towns Theatre

Liberty Theatre Company

Acoustic music from Gareth Powell and Phil Wagg

4 – 10pm Bands

The Control

The Decision

Mistaken For Strangers

Cocks Entry

The Black Apples

Molotov Revival

HOTS
The Coach Trad Jazz Band

Also going on:

Real Ale beer tent plus pop & snacks

Arts & craft stalls

Hog roast

Face painting

Close-up magic

Salsa in the street

Skateboard demos

Typography & Beer

By Mark Brereton

If you’re a graphic designer or typographic geek and quite partial to the odd beer then I’d seriously suggest a visit to the Coachmakers Arms pub in Hanley. It has a vast collection of beer mats from local and UK breweries. All of which can be viewed on the walls of the pub. The design and typography spread many generations, brands, identities and tastes. There’s a great selection of heavies, lights, bolds, and darks. I’m now seeing the similarities between typefaces and beers with different eyes. After a few pints the games soon kick in, with “ËœGuess the Typeface’ and bonus points awarded for the designer and year created.

What makes the Coachmakers Arms even more interesting and a well-deserved visit, in my opinion, is that the pub is located within an area of planned demolition.

Another typical British pub, the once icon of community life and home to many traditional traits, characters and stories due for extinction. I’m not against change and I’m not against regeneration but I do disagree with the proposed developments and plans for this site.

Personally I feel that it would be truly sad to see it come to an end any time soon and loose another individual and enchanting character for the British pub industry.

Professionally I also feel that it’s places and spaces such as this that stimulates the creative hub of the city. The very idea that I’m writing about it and relating it to my art and design practice proves the point. Space and environment is crucial to creativity and my visit to the Coachmakers Arms was just as precious to me as any visit to gallery or museum.

My day with typography and beer.

If you’re interested in visiting the Coachmakers Arms, would like to find more information or even to help petition the demolition plans you can find further info at the following link. http://www.thecoachmakers.co.uk