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Village Food & Drink

Raising a pint to Paul

Posted on January 15 2009 at 1:56:40 0 comments

Dave Smith pulls a pint of Sweet Moll

Martyn Read tells the story of a special tribute to a sadly missed friend.

‘In comes I, Sweet Moll . . .” With these immortal lines Sweet Moll makes her entrance in Alvechurch Morris’s “almost” traditional Mummer’s play every New Year’s Day at the Crown Inn, Withybed Green.

For many years the part of Sweet Moll was played by Paul Newby in various interpretations of the costume instructions, which said: “Handbag/Old Tart’s Gear.”
These have ranged from the full-blown Dolly Parton blonde to Goth black hair with a streak of green, via any number of badly fitted big hair perm jobs, all accompanied by a range of slinky off-the-shoulder ensembles, feather boas and other “girly” stuff.

Sadly, Paul passed away very unexpectedly in May 2008 and Alvechurch Morris, of which Paul had been a long-standing member, tried to think of some way to celebrate the life of a man who will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched.

As well as being footpath warden for Alvechurch Village Society and leader of many walks around the area, Paul was also a founder member of the Alvechurch and Redditch Real Ale Society (Arras) and was renowned for his affection for “beer”.

His particular liking was for the heavier, more treacly ales and at festivals he could usually be found near the tap with the 9% or higher beers.

Unlike most festival drinkers, Paul started with the highest strength offerings (as being most likely to run out first) and stayed there unless forced to work downwards. Given such dedication to the real ale cause, it seemed natural to have a special beer made in Paul’s memory.

With the generous help of Dave Smith of Weatheroak Ales (pictured right), who wisely counselled a lighter beer than 9%, and the efforts of Mark Collinson, of Arras, to get the commitment of a number of local licencees to take the beer, Sweet Moll, with an ABV of 5.3%, was born.

The pump clip depicts Paul in his stellar role as Sweet Moll and we hope beer drinkers enjoyed this fine tribute to a friend and colleague who will be sorely missed.

Sweet Moll has been available in a number of pubs in south Birmingham, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, including The Weighbridge in Alvechurch and the village Sports & Social Club on New Year’s Day. Sweet Moll also made a special appearance at the Redditch CAMRA Winter Ale Festival before Christmas.

We owe a big vote of thanks to Dave Smith, of Weatheroak Ales, for the superb brew, to Steve Rigby, of Arras, for the artwork, to Deltaband, of Sheldon, for the donation of materials and to all the landlords and landladies for their support in making this crazy idea a reality.

So, beer lovers, please raise your glasses and join us in the toast: “Cheers Sweet Moll! Cheers Paul!”

Martyn Read is a member of Alvechurch Morris and Arras.

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