A wonderful thing is happening in Britain, we are re discovering our ale heritage; small batch producers brewing the highest quality beers with regional variations and interesting hop varieties. Real ale in pubs has never been so good or so varied and long may it continue.
The Joule’s story is long and proud and that we have been able to secure this famous brand, its trademarks and recipes, especially for the original pale ale is massively exciting. A huge thank you goes to Molson Coors for so generously giving us the opportunity to re open the Joule’s book, a long awaited sequel.
In doing so we take our responsibility very seriously, this is our leg of the journey but as we are re-founding the brand we have a special responsibility to ensure we get it right and make ourselves worthy of the mark which is still well remembered with great affection. These are big boots to fill, our hope and ambition is to imagine in a hundred years more that the 30 years or so when Joule’s fell dormant was just a small blip in its long proud history.
Our story starts with a passion for pubs and great real ale. To me one of life’s very greatest pleasures is a perfect pint – cask ale, cellared, the right condition, the right temperature, and in a proper pub with a real fire. It has been my passion since I first started selling beer with Bass twenty years ago and has been ever since. In 2001 I was lucky enough to find a pub being sold by Enterprise Inns in Market Drayton which had once been a Joule’s house, as had most of the others in the town. As we refurbished the pub we found that it happened to be sitting above the Market Drayton aquafer – a source of superb Shropshire/Staffordshire spring water which emerges from the Triassic Bunter pebble beds below, (more detail of the geology of the site will be posted on our brewery page – ‘brewing liquor’.)
First Brewed by Monks
The Joule’s story starts a little earlier; the original Joule’s pale ales famously originate from Stone just across the county border from Market Drayton where beer has been brewed since the 12th century, first by Augustinian monks. They brewed at the priory which stood until 1749 and were known to bless each barrel and mark with a cross to identify its superior quality until Henry VIII spoiled it all with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. John Joule’s skilfully adopted this sign of the Red Cross for their pale ales and registered this very famous trade mark, at a similar time William Bass was in Burton on Trent registering the Red Bass Triangle which was the first ever trade mark registered in England in 1876, the origin of ‘branding’ started right here. The Joule's Red Cross trade mark is the 6th oldest beer mark in the world.
The Joule’s Family
Earliest records show the Joule’s family originating from Bakewell in Derbyshire, however the two brothers Francis and William born in the mid 1700s moved in different directions, but both to brew ale. William moved to Salford and although he and his descendents brewed successfully in Lancashire for many years, this side of the family have since gained most fame from William’s grandson, the famous physicist, James Prescott Joule. Although James, notably born in the Salford brewery on Christmas Eve in 1818, took an active role in brewing, his real interest was in physics. He became a pre eminent physicist and gave his name to the standard measure of energy which he discovered, ‘the Joule’.
Francis however moved to Stone in Staffordshire and it was Francis’ side of the family which gained pre-eminence in brewing. As Francis became a more and more successful brewer he acquired more and more land in Stone. In 1780 he moved from his pub premises where beer had been brewed since the 1600s and established the expansive Joule’s brewery in the centre of Stone and alongside the Trent and Mersey canal.
In 1813 Francis’ son John Joule assumed management of the brewery and devoted the next 45 years to the brewery until he died in 1858. Leaving a strong business behind it continued successfully in his name for more than a century after his death. Using the town’s soft mineral water they had created a style of pale ale favoured all over the world. Joule’s ales found their way not only to Europe but also Australia and America. Joule’s supplied a series of bars in New York where the beer became very popular indeed – the first English brewer to do so. Many of the US servicemen posted in Market Drayton during the war years were delighted to find their favourite pint on tap in the town and even today some Joule’s memorabilia can be found in a few of New York’s central bars, where it had been relocated after the war.
Acquisition and Demolition
Joule’s beers won many medals and awards over the years but following more than 200 years of successful brewing, the company was acquired by Bass Charrington in the early 1970s, and the brewery sadly demolished in 1974 amid local outcry. At least an original Joule’s warehouse still exists and can be seen today on the canal side sporting the famous sign.
The Joule’s brand has thus lain dormant for over 36 years until now. During its long history the brewery had also developed a successful wine and spirit merchants, and a local pub estate at its peak, over 250 strong.
The story picks up in Market Drayton. Having found a pure water source on the same site as an original Joule’s house complete with land, we approached Molson Coors (who had since bought Bass and its brands) to acquire the Joule’s brand, the brewing notes, their methods and of course the yeast. At the same time the new Joule’s company made preliminary enquires about building a new brewery on the site of the Red Lion a 16th century inn in the heart of the medieval town.
It has taken nearly 10 years to pull all the elements together culminating in the new brewery being completed in July 2010. During that time the company has made strides in establishing a small group of pubs, some of which are original Joule’s houses. The famous red cross trade mark has started to re appear on pubs in its Staffordshire and Shropshire heartland, all that was missing was the re-emergence of the beer, a wait which ended on Monday 25th October 2010, 36 years to the day of the last Joule's Brew in Stone.