Saturday 4th July 2015
Claregate is a suburb to the Northwest of Wolverhampton town centre not far from the West Midlands / Staffordshire county boundary. No I’d not heard of it either. That was, of course, before this visit. It is easily accessible by bus from Wolverhampton and as the route continues to Codsall I was able to visit the pub on the railway station there which is owned by Holden’s Brewery, see separate article.
In fact, Hail to the Ale is also linked to a brewery as it is operated by Gary and Angela Morton who founded the Morton Brewery in 2007. In 2008 their three barrel plant was moved to Essington in Staffordshire. When the pub opened on Thursday 5th September 2013 it was the first micropub in the West Midlands and has subsequently proved to be very popular.
The building that houses it had previously seen use as a furniture shop. Prior to that it was the Post Office and even earlier was a bakery. It occupies a corner site and has a light and airy feel once inside. This was appreciated on this sunny day. You can see that it was once two separate rooms and there is one step up to get to the area in front of the bar.
On the “lower” level there are a number of wooden tables with cushioned chairs. There is a fireplace containing a metal stove on the right of the room. On its mantelshelf is a good collection of brewery labelled china jugs. On that wall hangs a nice circular mirror.
In various different places there are bookcases with all sorts of ephemera and trinkets. Along the right wall there’s a shelf with some stools.
About halfway along the pub at the step up there is a shelf the crosses the room. On this there is a display of brewery embossed glasses and hanging on hooks beneath there a number of German ceramic drinking mugs. There is a lot of decoration on the walls of this pub with lots and lots of framed beer labels.
The shelf on the right of the room reappears on the “upper” level. This is narrower as the toilet facilities are on the left. There is a large wooden table in the middle of this area in front of the bar counter. More small tables with chairs are found on the left of the room. The front of the bar counter is covered with imitation brickwork wall paper. In the middle of this is a Post Office sign, reminding us of the pub’s former use.
There are six hand pumps on the bar, four for dispensing beer and one each dedicated to cider and perry. There is always one beer from the home side available and on this day it was Morton (Essington, Staffs) Penkside Pale Ale (3.6%). The guests were Burton Old Cottage (Burton, Staffs) Pastiche (5.2%), Blythe (Hamstall Ridware, Staffs) Staffie (4.4%) and Abbeydale (Sheffield) Deception (4.1%).
The cider was Rosies (Llandegla, North Wales) Wicked Wasp (7.0%) and then there was Hurst View (Wheston Aston, Staffs) Puckered Pear Medium Perry. Collectively I think that this a quite an eclectic range.
After just two years existence it has been awarded CAMRA Wolverhampton Pub of the Year 2015 going on to receive two other CAMRA awards: West Midlands County Pub of the Year 2015 followed by West Midlands Regional Pub of the Year 2015.
There is interesting range of food offerings. They had speciality cheeses, served with biscuits. The selection on this visit was Oak Smoked Cheddar, Wensleydale with Cranberries or Garlic & Herb.
Then there was Ludlow Ale & Mustard Sausage Rolls or Chilli Scotch Eggs. There were two types of pie, normal Pork or Huntsman’s. Alternatively you could have Crusty Cheese and Red Onion Cobs. They also had packaged pretzels and scratchings.
They hope to have an outside drinking area soon. So, there are lots of reasons to visit this excellent little pub if you are in the West Midlands.
Hail to the Ale, 2, Pendleford Avenue, Claregate, Wolverhampton WV6 9EF
Tel: 078 4656 2910
Open: Thursday-Friday 17.00-22.00; Saturday 12.00-22.00; Sunday: 12.00-17.00
The best way to get here is via the No 5 Bus. It runs from Wolverhampton Bus Station (5 minutes from Wolverhampton railway station). It takes 23 minutes via a rather convoluted route. The bus continues to Codsall town centre via Bilbrook station which only has one train per hour, Codsall has two.