Joules Ales - The 30 Mile Zone of Excellence
"A wonderful thing is happening in Britain, we are re-discovering our ale heritage." So says Joules, a beer maker whose famous pale ale has a history that dates back to the brewing habits of 12th century monks.
Joules disappeared in the 70s when it was acquired by Bass and they decided to retire the name and the beer and pulled down the original Joules brewery. Thanks big business.
And that might have been the end. But you can't keep a good beer down. (I should re-write that.) Joules was resurrected ten years ago when the present owner, Steve Nuttall, acquired the name, the recipes, the yeast and and all that was needed to bring Joules back properly.
I visited the Joules brewery in Market Drayton on your behalf this week. Much impressed by their keep it fresh and local philosophy. They only deliver their beer to pubs in a 30 mile radius from the brewery — their heartland of Cheshire, North Shropshire, North Staffordshire and North Wales — where'll you see the famous red cross trademark of Joules. The cross is one of the oldest beer marks in the world.
How refreshing to find a company that operates to serve the needs of its local community and is not set on world domination at any cost. In a world of increasingly bland uniformity, this helps give the area a unique character and a reason to visit.
You might know the name, but for geographical reasons you may not have tasted the beer. It's good.
The Joules brewery encompasses The Red Lion pub in Market Drayton, which dates back to 1623. Here you can enjoy the legendary Joule's Pale Ale, recreated with the assistance of one of the original brewers, Anthony Heeley, who worked on the last batch in 1974.
Understanding the importance of scale in retaining quality, Joules only produce three types of beer. Slumbering Monk is their premium bitter and they also make the continental-style Blonde. Attracted, as always, by the heritage, I was happy to keep to the pale ale this time around.
Joules has a commendable outlook on pubs too, or brewery taps as they call them, which also considers scale and sense of place. "Our interest has always been in old English style pubs, pubs which have served communities for centuries, which connect us to our fellow countrymen, and also to our past, a reminder of simpler times and the bonds we share."
Look out for their red cross if you're in that part of the country.