Our Brewery desires to create that perfect moment of reflection with a sparkling pint of fine English beer in the bastion of Englishness itself, the Pub. Put together, we think there is nothing better. So, whatever your reason for being here, welcome, this is our story – so far.

Our story

Joule’s is a small Brewery that mainly serves its collection of 40 Brewery Taps as well as a small local group of loyal Freetrade customers and Partners.

Our Taphouses are our pride and joy and we spend all our time thinking about how we can make each the best it can be. The strength of each lies with the people who run it, our Tenants who run our Brewery Taps as their own business.

Today, we brew around 7,000 barrels a year, in pints, that’s just over 2 million a year, sounds like a lot, but we are one of the smallest of the local ‘Craft’ Brewers.

We also enjoy brewing some cold Craft beer, our flagship Green Monkey is a pure brewed naturally matured lager brewed to the German purity laws of ‘Reinheitsgebot’, we sell a whopping 300,000 pints a year, which is as much as we can make given it takes 3 weeks to mature and condition.

This makes us 0.026% the size of the biggest lager brand in the UK and we are more than happy with that market share. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Brewery and see the care that goes into Joule’s then please do, we would love to try and impress you, we have a section, ‘Visit Us’ on this website that has all the details.

First brewed by Monks

The canal-side brewery
The priory in Stone, Staffordshire

Joule’s story started many years ago. Joule’s Pale Ales famously originated from Stone just across the county border from Market Drayton, where beer had been brewed since the 16th century, first by Augustinian Monks.

They brewed at the priory in Stone which stood until 1749 and was known to bless each barrel marking it with a red cross to identify its superior qualities.

John Joule skilfully adopted this sign of the Red Cross for his ales and registered this very famous trademark in 1867, making the Red Cross the 6th oldest beer trademark in the world, after the Bass Red Triangle, Bass Diamond, Guinness Harp, Whitbread Unicorn & Berry Brothers Barrel.

Red Cross Trademark

Joules Trademark

From these humble beginnings, this simple Red Cross became the symbol of Joule’s beers and rivalled the Bass mark.

In the 19th century, Bass and Joule’s glowered at one another from their Staffordshire towns with their Pubs bordering each other like military forts, it was an acrimonious rivalry which was unusual within the cosy club of the Beer Barons. Both became regional giants, were ambitious, and exported Beer to India and the US.

Joule’s was the more successful in creating giant warehousing along the Stone Canal Wharf, still there today to service Liverpool docks. Joule’s was the first English beer to be exported to the US, ahead of Bass, and was recorded as stock on the Titanic.

The Red Cross was later adopted as the international symbol for aid. However, Joule’s with its pre-dated Trademark has the individual right to use this commercially, if we flank the mark with the words, Trademark, to ensure differentiation and never depict it on a white dray.

The Joule’s Family

The earliest records show the Joule’s family originating from Bakewell Derbyshire. However, two brothers Francis and William born in the mid-1700s moved in different directions, but both to brew ale.

William moved to Salford, his family developed a renowned reputation for brewing in Lancashire. Their most notable family member was James Prescott Joule, the famous physicist, who gave his name to the unit of energy, a Joule.

Francis moved to Stone in Staffordshire and it was Francis’ side of the family that became ‘Joule’s Brewery’ expanding in 1780 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. The Brewery continued successfully in his name for more than a century after his death.

You will find two portraits of our founder John Joule in the Red Lion Brewery Tap.

Acquisition and demolition

The acrimonious relationship with Bass never diminished and even intensified in the 20th century with Joule’s beers winning many more medals and awards than their rival.

Following more than 200 years of successful brewing, Bass Charrington managed to secure control of Joule’s by persuading an old and confused widow of a family member to sell her shares.

Bass had seized control of what was, by the early 1970s a public company. Bass were swift, brutal, and ruthless and closed the Stone Brewery putting the entire Joule’s family of workers on the street along with the board of Directors.

They then mercilessly scorched the earth demolishing the great Joule’s Brewery in 1974 amid local outcry and palpable hostility.

The local branch of CAMRA even marched up Stone Town High Street in protest of Bass’ brutality to the town’s core business.

Independence of 2010

William Bass room at the Coopers
William Bass room at the Coopers

Twenty years later Steve Nuttall, one of the now Brewery Directors, approached Bass Brewers with a proposal to brew Joule’s as an independent beer once again.

Bass chose instead to brew some of the old recipes at their Brewery perhaps not realising the ill-feeling that still existed from their act of levelling Joule’s Stone Brewery in 1974.

A later approach by Steve, in 2008, was received with more interest with Bass having been broken up and sold piecemeal to international brewers InBev and Molson Coors.

The Joule’s trademarks hence fell into the hands of Molson Coors.

In 2009, in the William Bass Meeting room at the Coopers Tavern, Burton on Trent, a brand ‘license’ was signed that would allow Joule’s Brewery independence once again, free to use the Trademark but where the ownership would be retained by Molson Coors.

A plaque is on the wall of that room, with the great irony of it being signed in the place that was once the Bass Brewery Tap and is now owned by Joule’s.

Market Drayton Brewery

The newly independent company opened the fourth Joule’s Brewery in 2010, just across the county border from the old Stone Brewery.

Just 1/20th of that size. Market Drayton was selected for the new Brewery which sits behind an original Joule’s Pub, the Red Lion because it has access to Pure Mineral Water drawn from the same Aquifer as the original Brewery. Whilst the composition is very slightly different, the brewing ‘liquor’ is the same pure liquor that made the reputation of Joule’s over 200 years ago.

Joule’s Monks

Joules Monks

To celebrate the people who helped bring Joule’s to Market Drayton in 2010, the Directors of the Brewery commissioned renowned artist Andrew Tift to paint 8 Craftsmen, each representing their trade, who came together to build the award-winning Brewery, ‘CAMRA and English Heritage Design 2010’.

Andrew Tift normally works on portraits of the rich and famous; Tony Benn, Neil Kinnock, and Ken Livingstone among others. Winner of the BP portrait award and nationally recognised, Andrew is famously slow, as his work is meticulous, so the Brewery has been sitting patiently, the complete work is yet unfinished.

The “Monks” are is an unusual commission as a collection of portraits; they are linked by their common endeavour, an idea that appealed to Andrew and it was his idea to render them as Monks a nod to where our story began, which he rightly understood was so important to everyone at Joule’s, and of course with some characteristic humour.

Andrew’s work always has a narrative reference, clues that hint towards what lies behind the subject. The whole commission will be done over several years unveiling the Monks one by one as they are completed. The portraits completed so far are all on display in the Red Lion Brewery Tap;

  • Joshua, Giver of Light
  • James, A New Generation
  • Anthony, The Last Brewer
  • Christopher, The Stonemason
  • Daran, Keeper of the Purse
  • Edward, Master of Oak
  • Neil, The First Brewer

Mouse Room at the brewery

Joules Mouseroom
Red Lion Mouseroom

We have a philosophy in the way we go about restoring our Taps, we use natural materials and local Craftsmen to help us do the work.

We use the best materials we can lay our hands-on and we find the more natural the material, the better, as it lasts and it gains a lustre. These materials have been around forever, so it suits our style and with over half our Pubs being listed buildings then it suits them too.

We use oak as our timber, the colour, texture, and patina are unique. It’s also good for the environment because it is so long-lasting, oak captures carbon of course and we also recycle by using reclaimed oak whenever we can – so that’s all good news for vegetarians.

We share this interest in English oak with Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn and admire the breath-taking Craftsmanship that is reflected in their rendition of furniture. In brewing, we aspire to that level of Craft and we understand the deep care and desire to do your best that can grip you from the belly.

The room was very carefully installed at our Brewery in 2010 and is the centrepiece of our hospitality Mouseroom. In total 7 carved mice and the only nodding mouse, the Mouseman ever crafted. Over the years, we have added a few more pieces, 3 Mouseman church pews as well as some furniture from Mouseman apprentices known as the ‘Yorkshire critters’ who each carved their signatures [look out for Gnomes, Beavers & Lizards].

In 2016, we opened our Ludlow Tap, the Rose and Crown which also has a ‘Mouse Room’. The idea the Brewery has along with the great-grandson of Robert Thompson was to use recycled Mouseman pieces and create a single-panelled room. We purchased the entire contents of the ‘spare & repair ‘store at Kilburn. These pieces together make up the reclaimed mouse bar in Ludlow.

We also have purchased from local auctioneers, Trevanion and Dean, a run of Mouseman panels which are waiting patiently in our stores for a special Taphouse when, one day, Joule’s will return to Stone Town.

Local is best

Beer enthusiasts may often disagree about their favourite style, even the most unlikely beer fan has their favourite, Madonna is partial to a few pints of Taylors, though it is not known whether she has ever tried a Joule’s. The point is that every beer has a style and our beer is designed for our local market, the original Pale Ale is a Staffordshire classic, well-balanced, moreish, subtle flavours, a fresh-tasting beery beer. Our beers are all brewed for the three counties we serve, if folk from elsewhere like them, that’s great, but it’s not really for them, but when you’re in Rome be as the Romans and have a Joule’s.

We sell almost all our beer in our local Pubs and to our handful of loyal Freetrade customers, we don’t have many, and that’s fine. By being focussed on selling locally we can keep an eye out, we can ensure it’s fresh and not passed around from pillar to post.

2017 final independence

Joules Tower
Joules Brewery

Since 2009 we have had a license to use the Joule’s brand with the Trademarks owned by Molson Coors.

Within a few years, it became apparent that our Canadian friends at Molson Coors were motivated by rather more than just their appreciation of English beer heritage.

A negotiation commenced that would take over 3 years to reach.

Finally, this was settled and with the support of its bank Natwest, Joule’s paid half a million pounds to Molson Coors on the 21st of April 2017.

Finally, Joule’s has its independence and now totally owns the Red Cross Trademark and its name, once again.