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The Mill atWithington is the epitome of a
classic 'picture postcard' pub. Pleasantly
situated on the banks of the River Coln in the
picturesque Cotswold village ofWithington,
the Mill Inn with its unspoilt interior has the
potential to be one of the very best pubs in
Gloucestershire. It is owned by Yorkshire
brewers, Samuel Smith.
Samuel Smith's is Yorkshire's oldest brewery,
dating from 1758. It is a fiercely independent
, family owned company. Tradition, quality
and value are important, resulting in brewing
without any artificial additives. All real ale is
supplied in wooden casks and the price of a
pint is exceptional good value.
There's trouble at t'Mill though. Samuel
Smith resolutely refuse to supply cask beer to
their handful of Gloucestershire pubs and the
imposition of a dictated food menu from a
family owned food wholesaler in Tadcaster
has denied creative menus that source fresh
and local ingredients. Successful country
pubs invariably serve good food and sell a
selection of real ales. Sadly, the Mill Inn can
The food is uninspiring microwave pub fare
and the nitrokeg beer is certainly not worth
making a detour for. It's no wonder that
customers have kept away from the Mill Inn
in recent years. After ten years tenancy at the
Mill Inn Karl and Julie have been dismissed
by the company.
The recent policies of the once revered
Samuel Smiths brewery must be questioned.
The non availability of cask Old Brewery
Bitter is a real concern. Director Humphrey
R.W. Smith is adamant that wooden casks of
OBB do not travel well and it is better to have
brewery conditioned beer rather than poorly
kept real ale. Fine sentiments maybe, but
how does he explain that a Samuel Smith's
tied house in Newport - the Olde Murenger
House - regularly gains an entry into the
CAMRA Good Beer Guide? Beer drawn
from the wood is an evocative image of the
past. All very nice, but if it doesn't travel in
wooden barrels rack the beer into 9 gallon
metal casks , or allow guest beers from other
If you were fortunate enough to own a
brewery with over 250 years of history surely
you would be proud of the heritage and be
keen to promote the fact. Not so at Sam
Smiths. The company branding has been
removed from their entire tied estate and
there is hardly any advertising. Humphrey
Smith insists that the economies saved by not
having to maintain pictorial signs and liveries
mean that the price of beer can be kept low.
Their beer is incredible value for money, but
has the obsession to keep prices low by
opting for complete anonymity been a wise
business move? Personally I'd rather pay
comparable prices to other beers at about ?3 a
pint and enjoy a pint of excellent cask Old
Brewery Bitter in a properly branded Samuel
The Mill Inn was once famous for its food.
Enterprising landlord John Colville started
serving 'Chicken in the Basket' in the 1960's.
Nothing is Real:
used to supply
Bitter to the
Mill Inn, but
have long since
The Old Crown in
to have a Samuel
pictorial pub sign.
The sign is still
hanging from the
pub but there is no
mention of the
What other company
conceal their identity?
Trouble at t?Mill?
Robert Raikes House
The innovate menu caused a sensation and
300-400 portions of deep fried chicken and
chips were often sold on a single day. The
meal cost 2/6d. (12p). The car park was
always full and the popularity of the dish
meant that an ordering system using
numbered raffle tickets had to be used. The
iconic dish was removed from the menu by
Samuel Smith in August 2008.With the
increasing popularity of both healthier and
more imaginative menus it is perhaps not
surprising that demand for dishes like
chicken in a basket have declined, but
complete withdrawal and the imposition of
frozen pies and prepared meals seems a
strange business decision.
The Mill has just reopened after a thorough
refurbishment. It is to be hoped that the new
tenants can build up trade by reintroducing
good wholesome food and hopefully
persuading senior management at Sam
Smiths that there is definitely a demand for
cask Old Brewery Bitter in the
Gloucestershire. We wish them luck.
Apart from the
Mill Inn Samuel
Smith also own
the Circus Bar
and the Old
The latter is a
in Southgate Street, Gloucester. An
impressive ?4 million was spent on its
complete restoration and the pub opened in
August 2008. The oak framed building is an
architectural gem - a real credit to the skill
of the craftsmen who worked on the project.
It is a shame that after spending so much on
this worthwhile conversion Samuel Smith
steadfastly refuse to supply their real Old
Brewery Bitter to this wonderful Gloucester
pub. As far as I know not a penny has been
spent on advertising the pub.
?4 million pound spent on renovating Robert
Raikes House is very commendable but in
the light of the austere and obsessive
financial restraints shown in other
departments of Samuel Smith's Brewery (i.e.
saving money by not displaying company
liveries on pub signs) their economic
philosophies have to be questioned.
Humphrey Smith has even banned live music
from the entire tied estate to save paying the
Performing Rights Levy!
By refusing to supply real ale to their pubs
outside of their traditional Yorkshire trading
area and dictating what food should be
supplied and consumed depriving their
tenants of imaginative culinary flare one has
to ask the question - Do Samuel Smith's want
any customers in their pubs at all?