Richard McComb raises a glass to Staffordshire's small breweries
Whether your taste is for a Quartz Blonde or a Lymestone Cowboy, you are unlikely to be disappointed in Staffordshire.
The county, which has a rich beer-producing heritage, is home to a burgeoning number of craft breweries whose distinctive, individual styles are winning a growing band of followers.
Among the new breed of brewers is Abbots Bromley-based Freedom (www.freedombeer.com), which specialises in flavoursome English lagers.
Run by husband and wife team Ed and Susan Mayman, the company produces three core drinks – Freedom Pilsner, Organic Dark Lager and Organic Lager – to which Freedom Four, a four percent lager, and Freedom Stout were added in 2010.
The statistics speak for themselves. Year-on-year sales increased last year by 84 per cent and production capacity has expanded by 60 per cent thanks to new maturation and fermentation tanks. Locals bars and restaurants, as well as famous hospitality names such as Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver list Freedom lagers.
Ed said Freedom, as a member of the Society of Independent Brewers, was helping to change public and trade perceptions about lager.
He said: “Like many craft brewers, we rely on the quality and taste of our drinks to make them stand out. Each product in our range is hand-crafted by experts who care about the brews we produce.
"We have tapped into trends for local produce, sustainability and provenance, using the finest ingredients to produce English brews that blow mass-producers out of competition on taste. The key to our success is listening to what’s happening in the market.
"We are actively involved in industry issues and we are constantly listening to our customers. We have even extended our range in line with the feedback we have received.
"Freedom Stout was developed after some of our draught customers became disillusioned with continued price rises from market leaders and said they wanted a premium stout to complement their premium ales and lagers.”