On the trail of local ale

Revolution, renaissance, call it what you want, but there’s no doubting that real ale is well and truly back and biting at the ankles of the brewing giants.

A good job then that we’re not only on the bandwagon, but we’re steering it in a most exciting direction.

Last year we started offering ales from breweries near to our stores, adding 56 new ales to our range across the UK – from an Arran Blonde in our Scottish stores to a Golden Hare for real ale lovers in the South West.

And we’re now looking to take this one step further as part of our commitment to source more local products. We’re seeking to bring to our stores specially crafted ales from local breweries throughout the UK.

If, like me, you’ve had the pleasure of buying real ale in our Yorkshire or Lancashire stores of late you may already have seen some local offerings taking pride of place on our shelves – Saltaire’s Raspberry Blond, Wold Top’s Scarborough Fair and Bowland’s Pheasant Plucker to name but a few.

They’re selling well, and provide a uniquely ‘local’ connection between us and our customers. This approach supports local suppliers, local jobs and the local economy. What’s not to like?

That’s why we’re keen to bring local brews to the tankards of members throughout the UK. And it’s here that we need some help from our members to identify their favourite local craft beers.

So if you’ve got a minute, add a comment to this blog to tell me about your local real ale heroes – be they breweries, brewers or bottles.

Sue Wade, Category Trading Manager for Local

 

Join the conversation! 146 Comments

  1. I’m in the North east. Stand out brewers up our way who produce great bottled Real Ales, are Durham Brewery, Wylam, Mordue and Allendale. Mordue seems to be well stocked throughout NE although not the great Northumbrian Blonde or their IPA. The Durham Brewery really is outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. I’m in Stirling. Williams Bros are just along the road in Alloa. They do lovely beers and are a great brand. For all your retail research, just pop in to String Aldi and do a secret shop!

    Like

    Reply
  3. Some great beers from the smaller brewers of west Cornwall Crown brewery from Penzance and the St Ives Brewery

    Like

    Reply
  4. Why does your survey insist on answers to questions, then refuse to recognise them? If you’re going to ask for a favourite beer style, barfing when I enter Black IPA or Saison is not very smart. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. I’m in North East London. Beavertown Brewery in Tottenham have a fabulous range of beers, with great designs on the cans. It would be great to have a selection in Wood Street and Higham Hill Co-ops. Their saison is my favourite

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. I live in the South West, and couldn’t be more passionate about the Badger Ales brewed in Blandford, Dorset, by Hall and Woodhouse. Tanglefoot is simply superb, Fursty Ferret truly wonderful, and Firkin Fox a close third. The other bottled ale to always have in your house is St Austell’s Tribute, as well as Ringwood Brewery’s Boondoggle.

    Like

    Reply
  7. Derby has 2 super breweries who make great real ales in bottles: Wentwell Brewery and The Brunswick Brewery. I heartily recommend both of them.

    Like

    Reply
  8. The Burscough Brewing Company
    The Burscough Brewing Company Limited was founded and registered on 17th April 2010 by Andy Brocken and Mike McCombe who are the two directors of the company.

    Anyone local to the Burscough area will know Mike and Julie proprietors of the Hop Vine public house in the centre of Burscough village, Andy has spent the last 26 plus years working in the IT industry but is an avid real ale fan and has this year completed a brewing course at Brewlab, Sunderland and spent time brewing at Wylam Brewery, Heddon on the Wall, Northumberland.

    Our Brewery is located in a cobbled courtyard to the rear of the Hop Vine pub and is housed in the old stables that played an important role in the former life of the pub when it was a busy Coaching House on old Turnpike road, which is now the A59- It has been very rewarding seeing almost derelict buildings brought back to life and refurbish to accommodate a modem micro-brewery.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. The thing that you’re trying to do bring in local beers to each local shop is amicable, but to be honest the best beers aren’t always local. And if they are and you’re a fan of them then you can pop along and buy them direct from the brewery, so there is a bit of a flaw in the range model that you’re trying to put together.
    The beer that is the growth segment is ‘craft beer’, beer with taste and flavour, beer thats not just brown water, or beer thats not from a mass producer.
    What you should be doing is taking a look at what M&S or even Waitrose, as they’re leaps ahead of anyone else in terms of offering ‘Craft Beer’ to customers.
    And if you really want to see what beer is popular and trending then go sign up to Untappd, you can see what people are drinking and what they think of it.

    Like

    Reply
    • Thanks very much for sharing your view. ^Scott

      Like

      Reply
    • Afraid I can’t agree – ‘craft beer’ is just a poncey name derived from the USA for what our independent, local brewers have been producing for donkeys years. Don’t get taken in by faddy labels.

      And many people don’t have the facility to visit local brewers to buy stock, so the opportunity to get them at your local supermarket is perfectly valid.

      Like

      Reply
      • Craft beer isn’t just a poncy fade label, its different to what traditional UK brewers have been doing for ‘donkeys years’ as you say. The UK brewing scene was very flat and full of brown water that all tasted the same, until a few picked up on the US style of brewing. The US craft scene has added something with flavour, experimentation, revivals of heritage recipes, its pushing the boundary more than the traditional UK brewer was previously.
        I know if you fill the shelves with just more of the traditional brown water beer then it won’t get me buying beer from the Coop, as I can brew better than that myself.

        Like

  10. In West London, Naked Ladies from the Twickenham Fine Ales Bewery would be a welcome addition to the range offered by the co-op.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  11. I would suggest that a focus on craft beers from independent breweries would be best for this initiative.
    For me based in Edinburgh there are several excellent breweries nearby as well as further afield in Scotland.
    Alechemy, Pilot, Tempest, Fyne Ales, and Brewdog to name but a few.
    Woudl be nice to see a UK wide craft beer initiative to be honest, as most beer afficianados are going to appreciate a wider choice – I for one certainly woudl like to see some London based breweries (The Kernel, Beavertown, etc.) stocked more widely by the co-op.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  12. Think this is really commendable. I love to find new discoveries and if they’re local, then so much the better. Would be great if you expand this to other local delicacies such as baked goods, dairy produce, etc.

    For Herts, great breweries are McMullen & Tring Brewery.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  13. I’m in Lee on solent, South East. You need to speak with local brewer in Gosport – oak leaf & Ringwood brewery

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  14. We have a fine local brewery in Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne , called Millstone Brewery, which produces three excellent brews.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  15. Yorkshire. There’s so much great brewing up here (and nationally to be fair!) that I can’t name them all. Ilkley, Saltaire, Daleside, Ossett, Wold Top, York City (who do an excellent tour and tasting incidentally), Copper Dragon, Tim Taylor’s, the list goes on. What’s the chances of Co-op opening specialist off licenses so you can stock it all!? And maybe operating a guest brewers or regional selection which rotates nationally through your stores so the best of each county or region is available on a national level?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  16. You mention the South West, but this is a huge area (and does anyone agree on where it begins?!) and should really be divided up further. I don’t particularly want to see ales such as Badger in my home city Co-op stores of Exeter as its too generic but would enjoy from Devon breweries such as Dartmoor, Hanlons, Otter, Exeter Brewery, New Lion, Salcombe, Branscombe, Tavy Ales. I also wouldn’t be averse to seeing beers from breweries up country such as Saltaire.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  17. Here in Kent, all our supermarkets sell a wide selection of local beer from Shepherd Neame. Whilst they make nice beers on a large scale, there are other breweries making phenomenal beers on a small or medium scale and yet other than the brewery shops and a few smaller merchants, it is hard to find their beers. Breweries like The Old Dairy at Tenterden, Musket, Rockin Robin and Goachers at Maidstone, Whitstable Brewery (hints in the name with that one), Boutilliers and Mad Cat at Faversham, Gadds at Ramsgate. The list goes on and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Best selection of beers in the country i reckon, especially if you add in what’s available from East Sussex too.

      Hopefully, the Co-op initiative is not just to increase outlets for Shep’s beer but to bring in all the independents that you mention as well.

      Like

      Reply
  18. Actually brewed in Poole Dorset, the Bournemouth Brewing Company is a family run affair offering some tasty ales with cracking names eg the Wessex Wobbler. I can imaging their ales would be appealing to Co-op shoppers in the South Dorset area.
    Find out more here:
    http://www.bournemouthbrewery.co.uk/

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  19. Are you including cider as well as ale, because I really like the dry cider (called Growler) produced bythe Williams Brothers in Caerphilly.
    http://www.williamsbrotherscider.com/home.html

    Like

    Reply
  20. Taffs Well

    Like

    Reply
  21. Blue Monkey Brewery in Giltbrook, Nottingham is good and does a wide range of beers. Their BG Sips is a great crisp Pale Ale. The real find though is ‘Thorleys’ from Ilkeston in Derbyshire. A really small set up at the moment but the beers are excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  22. The local co-op in Yelverton stocks some Sharps Ales, I’d love them to also stock the Sharps Cornish Pilsner. I did email recently to request this, but it’s not in store yet. Please, it’s great and I’ve only found one other shop that sells it.

    Like

    Reply
  23. You seem to have to miss the point of what “real ale” is, just because it is from a local brewery doesn’t make it real ale. You used to stock one bottle conditioned beer for years from the Freeminer Brewery but this disappeared off the shelves, you have not stocked a “real ale” for years. Can you not stock a least one bottle conditioned beer in each branch ?

    Like

    Reply
  24. In Manchester there are many – Robinsons, Hydes, JW Lees and Holts are the bigger ones, along side smaller ones such as Dunham Massey and Marble Arch, but these are only the few I can quickly think of!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  25. Many local small business micro-breweries stand to benefit hugely from this initiative – more customers, more publicity, more money spent within the local economy – this is a brilliant initiative.

    All I’d ask is that with appropriate inspections & due diligence, the Co-op keeps the paperwork manageable and pays for the beer on delivery.

    Like

    Reply
  26. Loose Cannon Brewery in Abingdon produce some great beers. Abingdon Bridge is is regular winner with the beer drinkers in South Oxfordshire.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  27. There is an excellent brewery in Lymington called Vibrant Forest who produce a decent range of ales. They have recently won a gold award from CAMRA for their black forest porter which I would recommend along with their summit ale.

    Like

    Reply
  28. Long white cloud, pale armadillo by tempest and barneys beer please! Commendable move coop. Let’s get people away from mass market dishwater produced by accountants in big corporations.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  29. I live in Sussex and Hepworth & Co produce a good range of bottled beers including some that are bottle conditioned and some that are gluten free.

    Like

    Reply
  30. Martin Rake made a good point earlier that supporting local breweries is a laudable aim, but the quality isn’t always there, or it’s easy to buy them elsewhere locally anyway. Case in point in Herefordshire: Wye Walley Brewery is the most obvious local brewer, but their standard range is not especially exciting. However, their premium “Dorothy Goodbody” range deserves more attention (and stocking).

    There’s also the promising Swan Brewery in Leominster -https://www.swanbrewery.co.uk/

    By contrast, one of my favourite beers isn’t especially local, but I’d be glad to see it stocked country-wide: Purity Brewing Company’s Pure Gold.

    Sam Smith’s would also be a pleasant addition.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  31. Riverside Brewery http://www.riversidebreweryltd.co.uk is less than 2 miles from your Steyning, West Sussex store

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  32. I can highly recommend a company with good beers and a strong brand in Gwynedd, North Wales. It would be great to see them in the local Co-Op in Penygroes. It’s a brewery set up by volunteers to help to improve the local economy in what is a very poor area, and I think that should be applauded and supported. Please have a look at Bragdy Lleu (Lleu’s Brewery in English) at http://www.bragdylleu.cymru.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  33. Can you PLEASE bear in mind whether the beers you stock are vegan or not. The number of vegans has massively increased in recent years and the main issue we face i.e. beers fined with isinglass is something that should bother vegetarians too, although most of the time it doesn’t.

    In Nottingham the two breweries you have on your map both use isinglass, including in the bottles. Local breweries Magpie and Flipside do not use isinglass in their bottles and, as a bonus, are actually bottle conditioned which makes them taste better. In fact CAMRA only recognises bottle conditioned ales as being ‘real ales’ as far as bottled beer is concerned.

    Like

    Reply
  34. Vegans represent only a tiny portion of the drinking public. Get over it.

    Like

    Reply
  35. Your response is a complete non sequitur.

    Like

    Reply
  36. Lymestone brewery in stone have bottled ales and these would be a great addition in the local co op,s The head Brewer and owner Ian was the head brewer at Titanic brewery ,before starting up ,it is a small family brewery which has expanded and now has 3 pubs in Stone , Newcastle and the lastest Leek , I am hoping we get these ales in my local co op Florance Park ,maybe we can arrange local tasting in the areas where we can stock the local breweries beers 🤔🤔x

    Like

    Reply
  37. Local and established breweries Dartmoor (Jail Ale) and any Summerskills are our favourites here in Plymouth, Devon

    Like

    Reply
  38. Should have left web info, although obvious http://www.summerskills.co.uk and http://www.dartmoorbrewery.co.uk

    Like

    Reply
  39. A plea for the coop to take a more serious look at providing gluten free beer. This is not a choice for a number of people but a medical necessity! There are some very good beers that happen to be gluten free (GF). My local coop near Derby sells a range of Brewdog beers but not Vagabond which is naturally GF. The Freefrom section has some small bottles of Greens Belgium beer which is about the worst GF beer around. There are a number of other good GF beers including Scarborough Fair and St Peters. Can you look in to it and make them more widely available please?

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s