This blog was written by Roger Protz, who edited 24 editions of the Good Beer Guide. His most recent book is The Family Brewers of Britain (CAMRA Books). His website is and he tweets @RogerProtzBeer.

If you mention Staffordshire to brewers and beer lovers around the world you will get a double response: “Water” and “Burton-on-Trent”.

It was the mineral-rich waters of the Trent Valley that made Burton famous for the distinctive beers brewed in the town.

That fame spread like a bush fire in the 19th century when Burton brewers turned their attention from nut-brown Burton Ales and started to produce pale ale.

The beer transformed brewing on a world scale and even lager brewers from central Europe rushed to Burton to see how pale beer was made.

It was Burton-brewed India Pale Ale that had the greatest impact.

It was first brewed to refresh the top military brass known as the Raj in India but its popularity spread throughout the British Empire and North America.

But IPA’s hey-day was brief and it disappeared during the First World War as a result of massive increases in excise duty.

IPA has returned with gusto in recent years, discovered by new craft brewers in the United States and Britain.

Just about every brewery here now has an IPA in its range and there’s cause to celebrate the revival of a great Burton beer.

And where better to drink IPA and other craft beers than in some of the splendid pubs and ale houses in Staffordshire?

The Roebuck Inn, Burton upon Trent

In Burton, The Roebuck Inn (101 Station Road) is a good starting point as it played a key role in the real ale revolution that started in the 1970s.

The pub is just a few yards from the train station and opposite the former Ind Coope and Allsopp breweries.

In 1976 the owner of the two plants, Allied Breweries, announced it was launching a cask beer called Draught Burton Ale.

Those of us invited to the launch were given a tour of the Ind Coope brewery and we then adjourned to the Roebuck to taste the beer.

It was magnificent – rich, rounded and beautifully balanced between malt and hops.

Its overnight success encouraged other national brewers to start to promote their cask beers and the CAMRA bandwagon was well and truly rolling.

The Roebuck has one long narrow wood-panelled bar and there’s always a warm welcome.

Sadly, you won’t find Draught Burton Ale as Allied Breweries became Carlsberg Tetley and then just Carlsberg and the beer disappeared.

But you can sample two of Burton’s finest, Draught Bass and Marston’s Pedigree.

Coopers Tavern, Burton upon Trent

A short walk down Station Road and then right into Cross Street brings you the Coopers Tavern, a pub much loved by drinkers who come from far and wide to drink the beer and marvel at the small rooms packed with fascinating brewery memorabilia.

The pub started life as the Bass Brewery bottle store and then became the tap for Bass workers.

It’s now owned by Joule’s Brewery in Market Drayton, which sympathetically refurbished it in 2017 but has left intact the splendid back bar where its own beers and Draught Bass are served direct from casks.

The National Brewery Centre, Burton upon Trent

Another essential visit is the National Brewery Centre on Horninglow Street, the former Bass Museum.

You can follow the fascinating history of brewing in Burton, visit the on-site Heritage Brewery and then enjoy its beers in the bar that’s decked out with brewery memorabilia.

The beer range changes regularly but you may find St Modwen’s Ale, Masterpiece IPA and Draught Bass.

The Burton Bridge Inn, Burton upon Trent

The Burton Bridge Inn, 24 Bridge Street, is the tap house for Burton Bridge Brewery behind it.

The inn dates from the 17th century and was a welcome watering hole for travellers crossing the Trent into the town.

The brewery is one of the earliest new-wave micro breweries in the country, opened in 1982 by Geoff Mumford and Bruce Wilkinson.

They had both worked at Ind Coope and among the beers on offer in the pub you will find their interpretation of Draught Burton Ale.

The inn has two rooms: a small front bar and a more spacious oak-beamed back bar that’s suitable for dining as well as drinking.

The beer range includes Bridge Bitter, Golden Delicious and Festival Ale.

The Yew Tree Inn, Staffordshire Moorlands

The Yew Tree Inn, 3 Church Lane, Cauldon (off A523), is one of the most amazing pubs in the country let alone the county.

It’s based between Ashbourne and Leek ands as well as serving excellent food and drink it has a vast collection of antiques.

The collection includes grandfather clocks, a penny-farthing bike, an ancient rocking horse, a pianola and several polyphonia – musical boxes that play tunes when fed with twopence pieces.

To add to the fun, there are ancient flintlocks, table skittles and darts.

The food is highly recommended and the cask beers include Burton Bridge Bitter, Rudgate Ruby Mild and guest ales.

Bod Stafford

Stafford has the first of a small chain of specialist bars called Bod, so called because this one is based at 57 Bodmin Avenue.

The bars were the brainchild of Keith and Dave Bott who run the Titanic Brewery in Stoke.

The bars are spacious and open-plan and serve meals from breakfast to dinner along with such Titanic brews as Steerage, Iceberg and Plum Porter.

All the brewery’s beers have a Titanic theme as the captain of the unfortunate liner, John Smith, came from Stoke.

The Coachmakers Arms, Stoke-on-Trent

The Coachmakers Arms in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, is a splendid town pub that has been saved as a result of a vigorous local campaign to stop it being knocked down to make way for a car park.

When I visited to join a protest meeting at the pub the landlord said he had “something special” in the cellar as well as the beers on the bar.

This turned out to be the sublime Draught Bass drawn straight from the cask.

I was told retired pottery works come to the pub on Saturdays and drink copious amounts of Bass.

The Coachmakers is a fine example of a corridor pub with several small rooms served from the central bar.

The Codsall Station Pub, South Staffordshire

A pub with strong railway links is the Codsall Station, a magnificent restoration of disused railway buildings by Holden’s Brewery in the Black Country.

The Grade II-listed pub was taken over by the brewery in 1997 and it took 18 months to restore the site to its original Victorian splendour.

It has spacious lounges, a snug and conservatory, with railway memorabilia from around the world.

Regular beer festivals are staged. There’s excellent grub, including Bostin burgers – Black Country dialect for something good.

The beers include Holden’s Black Country Bitter and Golden Glow with guest ales from local breweries.

The Newhall Arms, Cannock

From the old and spacious to something small and new. The Newhall Arms in Cannock (81 High Green) is the town’s first micro pub.

It’s a haven for beer lovers with eight constantly changing ales from local and national breweries.

You can enjoy the beers in a pleasant atmosphere devoid of loud music. Cobs and snacks are served.

It must be good as it’s the local CAMRA pub of the year.

The Tamworth Tap, Tamworth

The Tamworth Tap (29 Market Street) is home to the Tamworth Brewing Co.

It’s an elegant building with Tudor features and a courtyard with fine views of the castle. Eight handpulls serve beers from the brewery along with guest ales.

If beer is not your tipple, then you can enjoy good wine and gin. There’s regular live music and bar snacks.

It’s another fine outlet that’s been named CAMRA Staffordshire pub of the year.