Titanic Brewery, Plum Porter
The potteries were built around “The Mother Town” of Burslem, Stoke on Trent, with great British names like Wedgwood and Doulton launching their businesses here.
Beer, rather than fine china, is the main export nowadays with Titanic Brewery, founded in 1985, one of the few businesses left in town keeping that rich manufacturing heritage alive.
The brewery was named in honour of Captain Edward John Smith, who was born just down the road. He would go on to command the world's most famous liner and died manning the wheel of the ship when it sank in 1912.
Titanic Brewery itself was sinking in 1988 when local lad Keith Bott joined forces with his brother David and cobbled up enough money to buy the company out of receivership.
Since leaving school, Keith had been learning how to brew beer by visiting the new wave of local brewers in and around the Midlands, before convincing Titanic to give him a job as an assistant brewer in late 1985. Since taking the helm in 1988 he has also served as chairman, and later president of the Society for Independent Brewers, playing a key role in convincing the government to introduce Progressive Beer Duty, which has been one of the biggest factors in the resurgence of small, independent microbreweries in the UK.
Titanic’s Plum Porter has become a cult classic since being released as a Winter speciality beer back in 2011. It won CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain Award in 2015 and has been brewed all year round ever since.
It pours a deep, dark red with an aroma full of plums and raisins. You get the normal dark malt smokiness and smooth mouthfeel when you first sip it, but that’s followed by a whack of sweet stewed plum and a subtle vanilla finish. It has a lightness of touch and fruitiness that makes it an ideal porter to see in Spring.
Back when Keith and David took over the brewery, they were brewing 14 barrels a week. This year they’ll brew roughly 2.5 million pints. They own nine pubs, opening eight of them in the last eight years and all within a 20 mile radius of the brewery.
“We passionately believe that good pubs foster positive community spirit and are part of the fabric of British society” explains Keith. Captain Smith, whose last words were supposedly "Be British boys, be British!" would almost certainly have agreed.