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Rail Ale Trains on West Somerset Railway revives golden age of ale by rail.

(08/06/2011 @ 17:35:00)

One of the staple traffics carried by the Railways of Britain down the years has been beer from breweries both large and small. When the Midland Railway built its St Pancras station in London a key part of the planning was to maximise the cellar space available for the storage of the huge number of beer casks that the MR carried from the breweries of Burton-on-Trent to the capital. In the Mendip hills, the Oakhill brewery built its own narrow gauge line to the Somerset and Dorset line at Binegar. The breweries also received raw materials such as hops, yeast and coal by rail.


On the Taunton to Minehead branch line there was a local brewery in the village of Stogumber, which traded from around 1840 until 1910. The beers obtained a national reputation for their purity and the company also produced soft drinks. The brewery site became derelict and was demolished in the 1970’s although an advertising poster from the Stogumber Brewery can still be seen in the White Horse Inn in the village.


The brewery used the Minehead branch as one of its links to the pubs it served and on Friday June 10th one of the present day award-winning independent breweries of Somerset will be reviving the tradition by loading some of its ales at Stogumber for journeys to pubs at Bishops Lydeard and Minehead.


The beer will be from the Quantock Brewery, which has been established in Wellington since December 2007. Quantock’s ales are brewed using pure ingredients of grain, whole hop cones, yeast and water without other additives, giving drinkers the chance to enjoy the natural flavours of the drink. The beers are served in traditional cask-conditioned form in pubs in Somerset and Devon although they have been served successfully in places as far apart as Scotland and the Isle of Wight.


The pubs, which will be receiving their deliveries from the West Somerset Railway, are traditional local the "Bird in Hand” in Bishops Lydeard and award-winning family pub the "Hairy Dog” in Minehead. June 10th is the first day of the WSR’s Mixed Traction Weekend. The beers will be loaded on to 11.31 train to Minehead and the 12.03 to Bishops Lydeard, being expected to be delivered to the "Hairy Dog” at around midday and the "Bird in Hand” around 1.00 p.m. Quantock Brewery beer will be available in both pubs, to quench the thirst of the traveller.


WSR General Manager commented:- "We are pleased to be able to combine Ale by Rail Day with the start of one of own special weekends and later in the year we will expect to have Quantock Beers on sale at Minehead Railway Station during the September Real Ale festival.


For further information contact WSR General Manager Paul Conibeare via paul.gm@wsrail.net or 01643 700388








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