Gimme Shell-ter, Midland Brewery Taps and Troublesome Opening Hours

Pubs come in many different forms. Coaching inns, pubs, theme bars, roadhouses, micropubs etc. For a frisky canter through them read 20th Century Pub by https://boakandbailey.com/

Brewery taps, where they existed, usually meant the pub next to, and supplied by, the brewery. Now they are fast growing aspect of the microbrewery business. It’s easy to see why. They provide a guaranteed point of sale in a crowded market; no beer miles; few additional overheads; and direct control over quality.  The problem for us tickers is often their opening times. Friday evenings and Saturdays only is not uncommon.

So it was with two in the West Midlands. Fixed Wheel, listed as Halesowen, is in a place called Shell Corner, so called because of, um, a shell on a corner.

The original shell was erected in 1924 as a memorial to those who died in World War One.  The replacement version was placed in position earlier this year.  There is also a shop that once sold incense and West Bromwich Albion fans.

There is a micropub, Shell-ter (geddit?) that was gearing up for one of those soccerball cup thingies you hear about.

Situated in the owner’s former electrical workshop, it has some cleverly adapted tables.

Beer quality was good (isn’t Salopian a wonderful brewery?) whilst Madame Luna greatly approved of the rum punch at £3 in a half pint glass.  She slept soundly all the way home.

Fixed Wheel is a couple of hundred yards away, on a tiny industrial estate, bringing new life into an area that, frankly, needs it.  The brewer is Scott, a former British cycle record holder, hence the theme and indeed the bike he set the record on.

The bike is simply scary- you can’t freewheel on it and I am not entirely sure how you stop it – but the Through and Off Session IPA (3.8%) was fruity and refreshing.  Other beers have a cycling theme.  They obviously had good fun thinking up names like Therapeutic Exemption Sour; Pope of Dope; and No Brakes IPA.  I liked this place and would drink there if I ever move to Shell Corner.

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The Bin
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Cycle Art

Final stop of the day was the Badelynge Bar in Stourbridge, the Green Duck brewery tap.

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This was on a much larger scale on an out of town industrial estate.  The Duck & Cover IPA (4%) had similar hop flavours to the previous beer, perhaps explained by the fact that Scott used to brew here before leaving to set up Fixed Wheel.

I enjoy trying local brewery taps but by their very nature, they are not likely to be very accessible in terms of opening times.  Both Green Duck and Fixed Wheel are open 13 hours a week.  The Well in Mansfield Woodhouse, for example, is listed as open 10 hours a week.  All are in the Good Beer Guide.  They are not pubs but its not the Good Pub Guide.  All do serve good beer.  I expect the 2019 Good Beer Guide will include new entries with similar hours.

Surely, though, branches have to make a judgement about the availability of such places to allow people to actually access the beer.  In Mid-Wales the local CAMRA branch deleted the Red Lion in Knighton on the grounds of “limited opening hours” – to my knowledge a hitherto unused criteria-  yet it is open 28 hours a week.  It can’t just be an issue for those of us daft enough to travel 600+ miles to score a tick, can it? Or if the beer’s good enough doesn’t it matter if you can’t get it most of the week?

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Gimme Shell-ter, Midland Brewery Taps and Troublesome Opening Hours

  1. “For a frisky canter through them read 20th Century Pub”

    I have added it to my wish list over here.
    (note: ‘wish list’ in this sense merely means on hold till I have enough to order to qualify for free shipping) 🙂

    “so called because of, um, a shell on a corner.”

    And here was me expecting a sea shell. (blush)

    “Shell-ter (geddit?)”

    Oof. That’s right up there with being ‘down’right horrible. 🙂

    “it has some cleverly adapted tables.”

    I like! (thumbs up)

    “hence the theme”

    In my opinion much better than the Shell-ter name. 😉

    “They obviously had good fun thinking up names”

    Agreed. 🙂

    “I enjoy trying local brewery taps but by their very nature, they are not likely to be very accessible in terms of opening times.”

    For what it’s worth I just checked four brew (pubs/taps/micro) sort of in my vicinity. They range from 49 – 84 hours a week with regards to being open. They seat about 30-40 roughly. Two have light snacks but one of those has a pizza parlour right next door (and you can have the pizza at the micro brewery) and the other two have food menus.

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting Russ. Some of those I have experienced only open at the end of the week’s work, whether associated with the business or otherwise. Some are hobby brewers who balance other commitments. The contemporary model of taps seems to have its origins in US and Canada so here’s hoping they develop those lovely opening hours you enjoy! Must pencil in a visit sometime.

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      1. Good point about hobby brewing, hadn’t thought of that.

        Over here I think most hobby brewers would do it out of their home rather than rent a place.

        And yes, much like I need to pencil in the UK for a visit, the North American west coast (Canada and the U.S.) has some interesting places. 🙂

        Cheers

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Those Stourbridge-ish ones are at least a bit quirky, aren’t they ? Beer was good on my visit, but in some of the brewery taps it’s hardly been stand out (not many visitors, usual rules apply). Worth saying that some Taps (e.g. one in Oswestry) run a Tap with longer hours but rely on a member of staff leaving office to actually serve you after a while; at least that Mansfield Wdhse place felt pubby the 15 minutes it was open.

    Us tickers find these places a challenge but we love them really, don’t we ? As long as they publicise the actual hours they ARE open and then don’t unexpectedly close for private parties/staff training/winterval.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s obviously up to any business when it opens and agree to honour the published times is important. Just wonder how few hours does a place have to operate to get included in the GBG. No doubt we will find out in September.

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      1. 15 minutes. They call last orders as it opens and give you 15 minutes drinking up time.

        I tried to visit Burning Soul Tap in Brum on Wednesday as they were advertising they’d be open for football (norm 11 hours on Fri/Sat). It was closed when I turned up at 9.45, just after final whistle.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Terrific stuff!!! Not been to any of these places so good to picture them and nice to see a bit of gentle Albion ribbing in the blog as well as Rolling Stones n the title. I quite like the Brewery taps and almost essential these days with so many breweres competing in less pubs than ever…I like the ones with a bit of atmosphere though that feel like a pub as opposed to a tasting session. Shell looked best of three – fair assessment?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Shell Corner certainly the most pubby. Green Duck so vast but might have been best in a group (like one of your apparently numerous stag crawls!). Beers at Fixed Wheel were best on the day. It was in a good location despite the address and a small enough room to feel pub-like.

      Liked by 1 person

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