Unit 9, Long Lane Trading Estate, Blackheath, West Midlands
When a mad cyclist’s passion for beer grew so much….he set up a brewery! Fixed Wheel Brewery has just celebrated its seventh birthday, after being set up in 2014 by cycling and brewing enthusiasts, Scott Povey & Sharon Bryant, in an industrial unit at Blackheath, near Halesowen in the West Midlands. Scott takes charge of the brewing, whilst Sharon looks after admin and finances. Scott began as a home brewer and honed his trade at the nearby Green Duck micro-brewery in Stourbridge. His ethos is to simply “Love what you do! We love to ride hard and at the end of the day enjoy a well-brewed beer”. He’s assisted by Chris Kay, who was previously head brewer at Bristol Beer Factory. Fixed Wheel is a full-mash 8-barrel brewery, brewing several times a week, using the finest British malt and hops from around the world. The core beers range from fresh hoppy pale ales to super dark and rich stouts, including the award-winning Blackheath Stout (5%), which was CAMRA’s National Champion Winter Beer (2020) and West Midlands Champion Beer (2018), Through & Off (3.8%), Wheelie Pale (4.1%), Chain Reaction Pale Ale (4.2%) and No Brakes IPA (5.9%). Seasonal and occasional brews include Mild Concussion (5.5%) and Milk Race (4.5%) stouts, along with the more-adventurous Pope of Dope Lemon and Hibiscus Saison (4.7%), Poggio Ice Cream Pale (5%) and Tommeke Belgian Tripel (9%). Scott’s even tried a Saline Drip Grapefruit Sour (3%) and Cipressa Orange Sour (3.7%), and the artwork for the bottles, cans and pump clips is amazing.
Scott & Sharon have recently invested in additional brewing equipment, along with new canning facilities. These were a life-line during the recent Covid lockdowns, with customers collecting their supplies from the brewery and Scott making the deliveries. In fact, Scott said that he felt more like a milkman delivering essential supplies to his local customers! The taproom originally opened in October 2015 with just a few tables and chairs within the brewing area. But when Scott expanded into the adjoining unit, it gave a more spacious feel, although still surrounded by brewing vessels and stylish artwork. When we recently called there, the taproom was buzzing with happy customers, both regulars and visitors alike, in warm and friendly surroundings. Five cask ales were on offer, along with 10 key-keg craft beers, including guest beers from local breweries like Burning Soul (Birmingham) and Nothing Bound (near Bewdley). Fresh cobs and snacks were available, and bottles, cans and mini-kegs were also available to take-away. Live-music events are held a couple of times a month and, in the summer, tables and upturned casks are placed outside for the “car park” experience. The taproom is child, bike and dog-friendly, and usually opens on Fridays (4-10pm) and Saturdays (12noon10pm). The nearest railway station is at Rowley Regis – a 5-minute walk away and there are frequent local bus services. The brewery taproom is supplemented by a couple of micro-pubs. The first, Wheelie-Thirsty, opened in Lye in 2018, but is now closed. The second Wheelie Thirsty is down the hill from the brewery at Old Hill, famous for its cheese nights, and was joined in September 2021 by the Handle-Bar in Cradley Heath, quickly gaining a reputation for its live-music nights. The brewery taproom is certainly worth visiting, and if you want more of the Fixed Wheel experience, the two micro-pubs are equally welcoming and have a good range of beers available.