In our quiz league we visit a few clubs. These are by and large a bastion of smoothflow beer and this often brings a chance to spot some unusual beers. No, I don't mean interesting imports, but strange oddities of our brewing past. I mentioned the subject before here. There was a new one on me last week in Delph Band Club. This weird clan of zombie beer, brought back from the brewing dead for a half life, as bastardised as Frankenstein's monster, now includes, presumably from Carlsberg, Walker's Bitter.
Walker's was a very large brewery indeed, based in the (now former) brewing town of Warrington. The original brewery in Dallam Lane was set up in opposition to the town's other large brewery, Greenall Whitley. Dallam Brewery, was the proud home of Peter Walker Ltd, founded by Andrew Walker, an exiled Scotsman, in1864. Walker's merged with Joshua Tetley of Leeds in 1960, which was to be the start of a series of mergers that later morphed into Allied Breweries. Dallam was a very substantial brewery - I know - I've been there, both to tour round it and to return empty containers. It's original buildings were superb and I recall the Walker's logo of a gilded,mounted knight and stained glass windows amid oak panelling. I wonder what happened to all that? It was closed as surplus to requirements by Carlsberg in 1996. In between times vast quantities of Tetley Bitter was pumped out of Dallam and not bad it was either - most would say the equal of the Leeds brewed version. Next to Higsons, it was the beer I drank most of in Liverpool when I lived there. They also produced the original Walker's Bitter for a small number of outlets and then for a time, a number of beers under Walker name, even setting aside a chunk of their pub estate - mostly at the heritage end - to be rebadged as Walkers pubs. I used to drink in one.
Walker's Brown Peter brown ale was a common sight in that famous Liverpool mix of brown bitter - a half of bitter in a pint glass and a bottle of brown ale. Greenalls itself closed in 1991 and its beers were then brewed by its formal rival in Dallam. It was a big job as Greenalls had over 1500 pubs to supply. When Dallam closed, the Greenalls beers ended up in Tetleys in Leeds and JW Lees, then at Thomas Hardy Burtonwood. When Greenalls sold the lot, the beers slowly disappeared altogether.
The Walker name died, or so we thought when Dallam closed. Ironically, Warrington's only surviving brewery, Burtonwood, now produces a myriad of contract beers, including, possibly - who knows? - Walker Smooth Bitter.
What goes round, comes round.
Mann's Chestnut Mild was also on sale in the Delph Band Club
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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