Sedgley Real Ale Beer Festival Rolls out Again for 2015

sedgleyscene-sedgley-beer-festival-2This year’s Sedgley Real Ale Festival promises to be even bigger

You could say last year’s Sedgley Real Ale Beer Festival was a success. In fact, it was so popular that thirsty visitors managed to down 2,000 pints in just 17 hours!

So, as organisers prepare for this September’s event at Sedgley Jubilee Scout Hall, more beers are most definitely the ‘order of the day’.

The festival, which combines real ale and live music, is fast becoming a regular autumn fixture for beer lovers across the Black Country.

Chairman, Ian Foster says:

We are very excited with the amount of interest in the beer festival. It is really satisfying tasting beers for good causes, and with so many local people turning up, everyone seems certain to meet old friends.”

Sedgley Real Ale Beer Festival Helping Charities

The money raised from the beer festival will be used to benefit the Scout Group, Children in Need, and Cystic Fibrosis.  The Scouts used their share of the proceeds to complete work on a fantastic logged cabin and new toilets.

The landlord of the Horse and Jockey at Woodcross will also be on hand to offer expert advice and recommendations.

Beer managers, Ron and Paul Reynolds, say: “In our first year, we got through almost 4,000 drinks in 17 hours! Last year it was 5,000, so this year we are ready to take it close to 6,000 glasses of ale, cider and wines.”

Drinkers will be entertained on Friday night with live music from locals Ben & Alun Davies, who will be serving up a range of 60’s, blues, folk, and classic rock numbers.

Joining the line-up on Saturday afternoon will be Sedgley Ukulele Strummers, and 1st Sedgley Morris Men.


The Four Rossis will be keeping crowds rocking on Saturday night

Star billing on Saturday night will be ‘The Quo’ also known as ‘The Four Rossis’, who will reel out ‘Good Time Boogie’ and a wealth of other favourites to re-create the ‘full-on, driving rock’n’roll that is Status Quo’.

This year’s festival will take place at Jubilee Hall, (rear of Sedgley Co-op), Friday evening 25th 5pm to 11pm and Saturday 26th of September from noon to 11pm.

The entrance fee of £10 includes drinks, a souvenir festival glass and three live bands.

For more details, contact David Baugh, tel: 07795370712 or


Discover why females and real ale are a beautiful combination

TV presenter Marverine Cole will be inviting local ladies to sample the best regional real ales

Sarah Hughes, Ma Pardoe, Sally Perry. Throughout Sedgley and the rest of the Black Country, women have always played an integral part in the history of real ale. And, with the numbers of women drinking real ale on the increase, local ladies who’d like to learn more about the region’s fine brewing heritage can put their taste buds to the test this week.

An evening of ale and fun is guaranteed at The Jolly Crispin this Thursday, 18th April, as part of CAMRA’s Community Pubs Month, hosted by Sedgley’s newest purveyors of fine crafted ales, Fownes Brewing Company.

For the ladies, the fun begins at 6pm in the lounge, with an ale tasting session hosted by Marverine Cole (Beer Beauty). Tickets are £10 in advance, purchased either from The Jolly Crispin or directly from the brewery by emailing Ticket holders will have great fun trying a range of Fownes ales, learning about foods that match well with particular beer styles and get a Fownes Brewery bag. Marverine is an accredited beer sommelier who appears regularly on TV and will ensure all the ladies come away having enjoyed themselves and being more knowledgeable about beer. So, why not get a group of friends together and come along for a great evening out?

From 8pm gents will be able to rejoin the ladies in the lounge and listen to Ali Capper from the British Hop Association talk about the UK hop industry and the essential ingredient British farmers produce for traditional English beers. Also, John Edgar will be performing the latest instalment in the tale of Korvak to celebrate the launch of Korvak’s Triumph: Honey Porter.

Those loyal customers who’ve finished collecting all 8 ales on their card and returned them by the 31st March will receive their Fownes Brewing Co. T-shirts.

On the bar will be three new Fownes ales: Korvak’s Triumph: 5.2% Honey Porter, Storyteller: 4.7%  Bitter and Best of British Hops: 4.3% Cascade. Guests can also enjoy a range of food made with Fownes’ ales, including Frost Hammer beer biscuits and Korvak’s beer cake as well as a large cake shaped like a hop cone.

The bearded drinking fraternity can also take part in the brewery’s  Beard of the Year competition by having their photo taken and submitted to the website.

Winter ales for a hoppy festive season

Sedgley's real ale lovers are spoilt for choice this winter with a selection of seasonal specials

On a dark winter’s night, there’s nothing better than to take a trip to the local pub, grab a seat by the fire and enjoy one of the fine seasonal ales produced by Sedgley’s excellent breweries.

And, with Camra’s Dudley Winter Ales Fayre launching next Thursday, it seems only appropriate that we at Sedgleyscene re-acquaint ourselves with some of the finest brews this region has to offer.

Firstly, it’s down to the Beacon Hotel, home to the Sarah Hughes Brewery and its fine selection of regular beers, Surprise, Pale Amber and the infamous Ruby Mild.

While this unique pub with its Victorian tower brewery may have attracted controversy of late due to a seemingly unpopular ban on dogs, one thing that has remained constant is the quality of its beer.

And its winter special, Snowflake, is no exception. Available from next Thursday, November 24, this well-rounded, rich ale is guaranteed to keep out the cold.

But, don’t be fooled by its delicate-sounding name – weighing in at a hefty 8 per cent ABV, this barley wine-style concoction packs an almighty punch and is wisely served by Alex Marchant and her team in half-pint glasses.

Having a blast

Down in Woodsetton, the brewers at Holden’s have been putting the finishing touches to their festive special ale, named – appropriately enough – Christmas Blaster.

This golden ale, which is a more manageable 4.8 per cent ABV, is described by the popular Black Country brewery as: “Challenger hops and Optic malt suffuse to create winter sunshine in a glass. With a lively and assertive hop character and a dominant malty sweetness throughout this premium beer results in a moreish malty aftertaste. Will certainly blow away the cobwebs!”

Sample Holden's ales at the Bull's Head in Bilston Street

Christmas Blaster also takes its name from local history. In days of yore, “time off” was a rare luxury. The Sabbath was strictly adhered to – but this was a time for sober religious reflection not joviality – and holidays were few and far between. Christmas holidays consisted of Christmas day and (for some) Boxing Day.

However, nothing stood in the way of efficiency, and a blast furnace needed to be cared for and kept up to temperature no matter what day of the year, for if it cooled it would need to be dismantled and re-fired – a long and costly process. As a result, a skeleton workforce was always in attendance and if they were unfortunate enough to have to work on the 25th December, the poor souls were jokingly referred to as Christmas Blasters.

Sedgley drinkers can sample this winter wonder at the Bull’s Head in Bilston Street.

Winter’s t-ale

Over in Lower Gornal, the boys at Black Country Ales have been mashing merrily to create their seasonal offering, English Winter. With an ABV of 5.5 per cent, this stronger than usual brew is described as: “A well-balanced brown ale with a complex character of fine Marris Otter malt and choice Fuggles and Goldings hops.”

But be warned – this beer is dangerously moreish.

Prepare to get bitten by Black Widow, the seasonal ale at Ma Pardoe's

Slighty further afield, in Netherton, lies another traditional gem of the Black Country. The Old Swan, or Ma Pardoe’s as it’s more commonly known, is a unique, quirky pub full of character and serving a range of excellent real ales brewed in its Victorian tower brewery.

And, as the winter chill really starts to bite, landlord Tim Newey and his team are almost ready to launch their seasonal special, the aptly named Black Widow.

This incredibly dark tipple, which has a venomous ABV of 6.7 per cent, is a wonderfully balanced ale which shares some characteristics with the previously mentioned Dark Ruby Mild available at the Beacon Hotel.

Once again this winter, Sedgley’s suppers are spoilt for choice, with a winter ale to appeal to all tastes. It’s time to wrap up warm, take a trip to one of the region’s fine historic pubs and enjoy the taste of tradition.

The Camra Dudley Winter Ales Fayre is held at Dudley Concert Hall and begins on Thursday, November 24, at 5.30pm and continues from 12 noon on Friday and Saturday. There will be more than 70 real ales available, along with cider, wine and foreign bottled beers. Hot and cold food is available and there will be live entertainment. Entry on Thursday and Friday is £3, or £1 for Camra members.


Is Gornal the social media capital of the world?

The humble surroundings of Gornal might prove to be the launchpad for Black Country businesses and social media

It was the epicentre of the famous Dudley earthquake in 2002 and now Gornal may be able to lay claim to yet another global phenomenon – as the launchpad for social media in the Black Country.

At a  recent workshop held for manufacturers in the Black Country, it was revealed that six of the 12 delegates in attendance were either born in the village or are currently living there.

The seminars, hosted by Danks Cockburn Public Relations – a company founded by former Ellowes Hall pupils Mat Danks and Russ Cockburn – was giving local companies an insight into the world of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ in a bid to help them win new contracts and create jobs.

During the presentation, funded by MAS Auto, the word ‘Gornal’ cropped up in conversation and it soon became clear that nearly half of the audience had some association with the area.

Trico Tooling’s Mark Poutney and Adam Calloway of Benton Manufacturing were both born in the village, while Jonathan Hickman (Cab Auto) listed Straits Primary as his first school and Andy Essom (HT Brigham) has swapped plush Sutton Coldfield for the friendly enclave of the Black Country.

Russ Cockburn, director at DCPR, says: “We’ve always said Gornal is at the cutting edge of technology and this surely proves it beyond any reasonable doubt.

“This was a social media workshop open to every manufacturer in the West Midlands and we ended up with six ‘Gornolians’ as delegates. While we tried to keep on topic as much as possible, it wasn’t long before we started sharing tales of pubs we frequent and our universal love of real ale – well, that’s two topics we’re certainly cutting-edge in!”

Visit the DCPR website to learn more about how this local company is engaging others in the business opportunities presented by social media.

Beacon Hotel dog ban rubs owners up the wrong way

The Beacon Hotel is calling time on dog owners who take their canine companions to the pub

For years, this historic Sedgley pub has been a popular place for local dog owners to relax with their four-legged friends while enjoying a pint of real ale brewed on the premises.

However, that might all be about to change after John Hughes, owner of the Beacon Hotel and the Sarah Hughes brewery, announced a complete ban on any canine companions from the end of October – a move which has angered many dog owners.

One regular and dog owner, Julie Caswell, from Coseley, says: “I’m gutted that they’ve decided to ban dogs from the pub – it’s more custom for the Stump (Mount Pleasant) then. How very short-sighted Mr Hughes!”

The Beacon Hotel, Sedgley

According to staff at the Beacon, the ban is due to concerns about furniture getting damaged and the safety of other customers and their children. It follows on from an incident last year, when a regular and his dog, Toby, were barred after damage was allegedly caused to plants in the Victorian pub’s conservatory.

As part of the ban, dogs will not be allowed inside the pub or outside in the beer garden – something which many people feel could result in the pub losing a great deal of trade.

“It’s no more Surprise for us sadly,” adds Julie, lamenting the fact she and her partner will no longer be able to enjoy the pub’s popular ales, which include Pale Amber, Surprise bitter and the famous Dark Ruby Mild.  “It’s just a shame responsible dog owners have to suffer because of a minority who can’t control their dogs.”

Are you a local dog owner and regular of the Beacon Hotel? What do you think of the ban?

Get in touch and share your views with us here at Sedgleyscene.

Beacon Hotel gets a ghostly visit

Alex Marchant, general manager at the Beacon Hotel, Sedgely, with the mysterious beermats

For more than 40 years, this mysterious figure has ‘haunted’ pubs across the Black Country and Staffordshire, leaving only their calling card – an image of American opera singer and actor Mario Lanza drawn on a beermat accompanied by a quote and often signed simply AJW.

But now, bar staff and regulars at the Beacon Hotel, Sedgley, are one step closer to cracking the mystery of this local enigma – they know what he or she likes to eat for breakfast.

Because, along with beermats featuring newspaper clippings of the historic pub’s staff stuck to them, the mystery customer also left one with a receipt attached from Rob Newey Butchers in Kingswinford, listing home-cured streaky bacon as one of the items.

“He or she must have been in the pub around 12.30pm on Friday, July 15 ,” says general manager, Alex Marchant, who was delighted to find several beermats dedicated to her in reference to the pub’s recent Camra award.

“And, when I checked the CCTV later, I saw a figure get up to leave with what looked like a range of beermats on their table.”

But, despite having captured this famous ‘ghost’ on camera, Alex remains tight-lipped as to this individual’s identity.

She jokes: “I’m not telling anyone who he or she really is – especially not a member of the Press!”

The mystery fan of Mario Lanza – a tenor and Hollywood movie star who died in 1959 – has continued to arouse interest since the first beermats were discovered in the early 1970s.

Over the years, this secretive spectre has displayed a keen interest in local news stories, referring at one time to nearby Woolaston as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ when there was a large rise in numbers of missing pets there.

As well as being the subject of a documentary by professional filmmaker Barney Snow, AJW even has a Facebook page set up in his or her honour, which currently has 159 members.

And, since many beermats now also include reference to this, along with email address,, some local people think it may now be a younger person who has taken up the role of Mario Lanza’s ghostwriter.

But Alex isn’t giving any clues away. “He could be a younger person, he could be older,” she says, before adding with a smile, “but I’m still not telling.”

Have you recently found one of these famous beermats or already own a collection?

Get in touch with us at Sedgleyscene – we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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