Holt, Plant and Deakin
Holt, Plant and Deakin was an unusual set-up as it was part of a canny marketing plan of Allied Breweries. Essentially, the company had a number of 'struggling' pubs in the Black Country, mainly from the old Ansell's estate. I'd have loved to been in the board meeting when someone came up with the idea of forming a chain of branded pubs that would be supplied with their own beers produced in a small microbrewery in Langley. Remember, this was in the days when there were very few small breweries - the likes of Allied had swallowed them all up. And this was the irony of the scheme - winding the clock back to small scale production. When this item on the agenda came up it must have caused a bit of a kafuffle amongst the business suits sat around the table at the Allied boardroom.
Contrived it may have been, but it was great while it lasted. The designated pubs were refitted and given a Victorian appearance with carved wood, open fires in black fire grates and furnishings that made it look like you'd stepped back in time. Of course, punters would have laughed their socks off if it weren't for one key element - the beer was brilliant. Holt's Entire became a favourite tipple with many real ale fans. Traditional drinkers flocked to places like the New Inn at Stourbridge, the Loyal Lodge at Halesowen, the Queen's Head in Wordsley, and the Elephant and Castle at Netherton.
The brewery was located in the former New Inn at Langley, a pub that had closed down and was under threat. However, it had the necessary infrastructure for a brewery to be installed. The pub re-opened in 1984 as the Brewery Inn. The interior was all spit-and-sawdust and the place would have nestled nicely at the Black Country Museum. In one section of the pub customers could peer through a window at part of the brewery. I drank in here on a number of occasions and it was great - though I did drink too much Entire as it was a lovely drop of nectar.
Of course, Allied went and ruined it all. They took the brand out of the Black Country and the whole thing lost its focus, particularly when they started a second brewery at Wolverhampton and this resulted in different properties to the beer so that drinkers were confused. Sadly, it all went pear-shaped and the scheme eventually folded.
Many years later when visiting the Old Swan at Netherton, I learned that the
brewer at the rear of Ma Pardoe's was once responsible for the Holt's Entire
Langley - he had reproduced the ale to be sold by Tim Newey, former
Holt, Plant and Deakin publican at the aforementioned Elephant and Castle. I
must find out more information about this.
Some of the pubs in the Holt, Plant and Deakin chain: