Davenports and Dares: two of the most fondly remembered breweries in Birmingham's history and both, sadly, nowhere to be seen. But not for much longer, thanks to an unexpected revival and some ambitious plans for the future.
Birmingham's famous Davenports Brewery started making beers back in 1829 from its headquarters near Broad Street. Such was its popularity that Davenports acquired fellow Midland brewer Dares in 1962, which operated from its Southend Brewery on Belgrave Road and ran around 30 pubs across the Black Country.
Unfortunately, these high times first came to an end in 1986, when the Davenports Bath Row brewery ceased production.
After this closure, the company was bought by Walsall's Highgate Brewery, who were the first to bring the Davenports name back to life, in 2008.
Sadly, this revival was short-lived as Highgate itself first went into administration in 2009, then complete liquidation after a failed attempt by two property developers to rescue the brewery in 2010. The last we heard, the Highgate Brewery building was put up for auction in 2014.
So, what happened to Davenports? In 2000, Highgate (and therefore Davenports) was bought by the current largest drink makers in the area, Aston Manor, who fairly promptly sold it to Smethwick-based pub branch company, Global Star, in 2007.
Now it appears that both Davenports – and Dares – are back with a vengeance.
Getting their first public outing at the Birmingham Chilli Festival this September, Davenports will be resurrecting the Dares name (which has laid dormant since 1962) as a trio of 'wickedly brewed flavourful modern craft beers'.
The first of the three is RIP (Real Indian Pale). This 5.2% beer will offer 'a vibrant bitter and hoppy flavour, with a malty taste, backed up by a robust citrus flavour'.
Red Eye (4.9%) is a 'dry hopped ale with a deep copper red colour offering a rich malty, toffee and biscuity flavour, with a strong hoppy taste and aroma'.
Last up in the premium craft lager, 6IX (6%): a 'strong, hand-crafted lager with a refreshing taste and a dense white creamy head'.
All three bottled beers will be widely available from next year.
While the Dares beers represent Davenports' modern take on a historic brand, there are also some classic revival cask ales too. These three beer tap labels will be familiar to many Brummies of a certain age.
As part of the revival, we can also expect to see the famous Midlands bitter Davenports Original (an English premium ale with 'a white creamy head and a balance between malt and fruity bitterness') and Davenports Pale Ale (a 'refreshing English cask ale') gracing pubs again.
Last of the celebration revivals is Highgate Dark Mild, a 'traditional mild ale with a thick head, low bitterness, a slightly caramel/roasted flavour and a smooth aftertaste'.
However, plans go further than the return of these much-loved names and brands. The company behind the relaunch currently operate 20 pubs, but only a few are branded. In the future, the aim is to open a number of new Davenports pubs and Dares bars across Birmingham and the Midlands.
At this stage, six venues have been earmarked, with a multi-million pound investment being used to refit them. Apparently, we could even see the first venue open later this year...
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