A sparkling creation …. in Ince


The beer sparkler ….. possibly one of the world’s greatest inventions for beer? Guaranteed to give a ‘good head’ on a pint of beer which it is generally loved by us Northerners and despised by Southerners.

Incredibly the beer sparkler was first patented over 130 years ago – by George Barker in 1886. His patent claimed – ‘Barker’s patent aerator of beer, stout, porter and other liquors is a new invention for improving the flavour and appearance especially of beer. Flat beer drawn through it becomes quite palatable, the apparatus so being arranged that the air of the place where the tap is placed thoroughly permeates the beer. The result is a rich creamy head, and a much lighter and more sparkling appearance than any, even the finest, beers possess when simply drawn through the ordinary tap without the aerator.’

Perhaps even more incredibly, at the time of the invention/patent, George Barker was the licensee of the Crown Hotel on Manchester Road in Higher Ince which would have been the first pub to use a beer sparkler. The pub sadly closed in the 1970’s but it’s legacy lives on.

Another first for the Wigan pub scene!!



Mark Yates … a sad loss


Mark and Gillian Yates

Mark Yates, founder and head brewer at Connoisseur Ales in St Helens, sadly passed away earlier today.

After many years of home brewing, in 2006 Mark became apprentice to Stan Shaw at the Wapping Brewery in Liverpool. It was from here that he began to brew under the name ‘The Connoisseur Brewer’ and his beers became a regular feature in Liverpool around 2007-2008.

A few years on and he secured the Albion pub in Warrington, which was suitable for housing a brewery, and he purchased the equipment of former Fenland Brewery of Ely. After a long and fruitless battle with planning, English Heritage and his landlords it became apparent that an in-house brewery wasn’t going to happen. However, the Albion still gained a reputation for it’s real ales winning CAMRA’s Cheshire Pub of the Year 2012 and Cheshire Cider Pub of the Year 2012.

In 2014, Mark’s focus has switched solely to the brewery and he secured a fantastic town centre location in his home town of St Helens. In September 2014, Connoisseur Ales was launched and brewing became a family affair with wife (Gillian) and son (Kevin).

Mark (and Gillian) were also regular supporters and volunteers at Wigan Beer Festival.

Mark will be sadly missed by many.

Wigan Central make it to the final !!!


Wigan Central has just been voted into the final four in the National Pub of the Year organised by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Massive congratulations to manageress, Jo Whalley, and all her hard-working and dedicated staff.

A further round of voting will take place before the eventual winner will be announced in February 2018. It’s only the second time that a pub from the Wigan CAMRA Branch area has received such an accolade, the other being the sadly demised Crown at Worthington in 2009. The are 4500 pubs listed in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide so reaching the final four is a fantastic achievement.

Congratulations are also in order to the Cricketers Arms in St Helens who have also been selected in the final four. A Wigan/Saints final in real ale rather than rugby league. We can all drink to that!!

This is great news, not just for the Wigan pub scene but the North West as a whole, as it will inevitably attract more discerning beer drinkers to the area.

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Thieving Wigan pub worker stole £33,000


A thieving Wigan pub worker who stole more than £33,000 from his employers to fuel his booze and gambling addictions has avoided jail – and won’t have to pay back a penny to his victims either.

In a gross breach of trust, Isaac Greenwood salted the cash away over a period of nine months from the Martland Mill Brewery Company.

For more info, see article in Wigan Today

Local breweries excel at North West Beer Competition


The North West Beer Competition organised by the Society of Independent Brewers Association (SIBA) was held at the Macron Stadium in Bolton on 4th October 2017..

No less than 4 Wigan breweries picked up 8 awards between them thus further enhancing Wigan’s reputation as a beer town.

Wily Fox, based at Martland Mill, picked up three awards (two golds and a silver) for their bottled beers whilst the Windmill Brewery in Standish also picked up a silver award for a bottled beer. Hophurst Brewery in Hindley picked up a bronze award in the cask category whilst Prospect Brewery picked up 3 awards (two golds and a bronze) for both cask and bottled beers.

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