Back in 1985 a group of us had been looking for a pint or two in the Black Country, and were heading home past Brierley Hill when we spotted a Simpkiss pub. Any small brewery’s beer had to be worth a look, and I was partial to their Old Ale, so in we went. It was a great, old-fashioned, multi-room local, and on the bar was a pump proclaiming “Simpkiss TNT” – new to me, so I bought a round of it. And what a pint it was – a beautiful golden colour, with a rich, complex malt balance and plenty of hoppy bitterness. Beautifully balanced, one of the earliest of modern golden, or perhaps pale ales. But what really made is special was putting it on the table, when a shaft of sunlight came through the window, illuminating the pint with a tremendous golden glow. This was more than a normal pint, it was mythical.
Within a couple of months, Simpkiss was no more; it was bought by Greenall Whitley and closed down for the handful of pubs the brewery owned. One of the worst examples of mindless vandalism on the beer culture I can remember. To this day, I still mourn the loss of an excellent beer, and an excellent local brewery.