Follow the ale trail for a taste of Plymouth History


Plymouth History Festival Ale

The organisers of this year’s Plymouth History Festival have joined forces with the city’s oldest working brewery to create a special beer and ale trail.

The ‘Plymouth History FestivALE’ is an exciting addition to this year’s programme and will be available at five historic pubs throughout the rest of May.

From the Fortescue Hotel, which was first recorded in the 1867 Directory of Devon, festival goers can go to The Clifton Inn whose first recorded licensee dates from 1873 and then on to Bread and Roses, which was originally named the Trafalgar in honour of the famous sea battle of 1805.

On from there to the Minerva Inn, which is Plymouth’s oldest serving public house and dates back to the times of Sir Francis Drake; and finally to the Pub On The Hoe. There has been a pub located on this particular site since 1864.

The especially brewed FestivALE has been created by Summerskills Brewery which was originally established in Bigbury in 1983. The brewery is now located in modern premises at Pomphlett Farm Industrial Estate, but retains its core historic values to use the best English ingredients to make fine beer.

“We were delighted to be approached with the idea of brewing a special beer to mark the 2015 Plymouth History Festival,” said Summerskills owner, David ‘Norman’ Lewis. “We’ve produced a traditional amber ale using Devon barley, floor-malted in the traditional way at Tuckers in Newton Abbot, and English hops bred from the varieties that would have been used in Plymouth during the 20th century.”

An ale trail leaflet linking all five sites is available and collectable beer mats have also been placed in each pub where the ale is stocked. The beer mats feature photographic images from the city’s archive collections from the area where the pubs are located.

Local historian Chris Robinson will be giving a related talk called ‘The History of Plymouth Pubs’ on Tuesday 12 May from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Fortescue Hotel. The talk is £5 per person and can be booked by calling 01752 228120.

Plymouth History Festival runs until the end of Sunday 31 May. For full details about the programme and to download a copy of the Ale Trail leaflet visit

Pubs in the Plymouth History FestivALE trail:

1. The Fortescue Hotel, Mutley Plain
2. The Clifton Inn, Clifton Street
3. The Bread and Roses, Ebrington Street
4. The Minerva, Looe Street
5. The Pub on the Hoe, Citadel Road

For more information, photographs or interview opportunities call Jo Clarke on 01752 306228 or email