Drink: Pulling power

This weekend Bishop's Castle in the Welsh Borders will be awash with serious drinkers, there for the annual ale festival. The Three Tuns, on the edge of this ancient, hilly little town, is one of the country's original home-brew pubs, with a history that goes back to the 17th century, its own listed Victorian brewery and a reputation that still draws beer buffs from all over. Although they will be in the ascendant today, the rest of the time the beamed saloon and public bars attract a rather more diverse range of customers, from local regulars, who include the actor Pete Postlethwaite, to weekenders from London.

The current owners took over three years ago but know better than to change the uncluttered interior, furnished with ancient settles and tables, complete with Jacobean staircase and open fireplace. Landlady Jan Cross, an artist and cook, is responsible for much of the superior food. Full- time brewer Steve Dunn, a microbiologist by training, produces three natural cask ales, and as many bottled beers, with others according to the season.

Three Tuns, Salop Street, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire (01588 638797). Mon-Thur noon-3.30pm, Fri 5-11pm, Sat noon-11pm, Sun noon-10.30pm.

Three Tuns drinks

Bellringer bottled

One of the Three Tuns brewery's three standard bottled ales, this is not as dark as stout, but darker than an average bitter and strong, at 6.3ABV. Pale, crystal and black barley malts, with a little wheat malt, are used. The black malt gives it the darkness and bitter taste and is used sparingly. It should be poured into a glass very slowly in one movement - if the bottle is shaken it makes the beer cloudy.

Ginger beer shandy

Whenever Pat Mercer - a member of the bar staff - is working, and she sees a customer is thirsty, she suggests a ginger-beer shandy. "Very few people have heard of it, but I always promote it," she says. The ginger beer always goes in first, with the bitter poured in on top. Any reason? "It's always been done that way," Pat says.

Sexton draught

Sexton uses pale malt and crystal malt barleys, and, unusually, a little malted wheat. It is a light, hoppy quaffing beer of 3.7ABV, which means it can be drunk in some quantity. The Three Tuns serves it from a hand pump into straight glasses, filled to the brim.

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