Steam and beer at Birdingbury Country Festival

White Shield lorryThis small Warwickshire village’s annual show attracted steam engines, classic cars, vintage military vehicles, tractors and lorries from as far as Sheffield. Many travelled shorter distances – John Wilson’s 1929 Leyland SQ2 Worthington White Shield delivery van came the 1.5 miles from Frankton to take part in the Commercial Vehicle display.


Yes that's me standing next to John’s beautifully preserved black delivery lorry that dates back to when almost every pub in the land stocked White Shield bottle-conditioned India Pale Ale made at the Worthington Brewery (now owned by Coors) in Burton upon Trent.

During the 1990s, all brewing of White Shield was transferred off-site to King and Barnes brewery in Horsham, it then became extremely difficult to get hold of. Rumours of its demise were scotched when Worthington’s relaunched White Shield in 2002, bringing its brewing back to Burton.

Paula GoddardLoved by home brewers, White Shield is one of the few bottled beers to contain natural yeast sediment. Drink the treacle-toffee flavoured beer to within ½ an inch of the bottom and you’re left with a cloudy liquid containing a small amount of live yeast cells. If you want to use these to ferment your own homebrewed beer (they add a slight White Shield flavour) you must first increase the number of yeast cells in what’s known as a ‘starter’. Pour the remaining White Shield into some watered down malt extract and place in your airing cupboard for a couple of days. Now you’ve supplied the yeast with some warmth and fresh food they’ll multiply into a frothy mass capable of turning your freshly boiled malt extract and hops into beer.

Dave Line’s recipe for Worthington White Shield (Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy) makes a beer exactly like its namesake but it does assume you’re an experienced homebrewer. Rather than starting from first principles and extracting your malt extract from whole grain, why not use ready extracted malt that comes in a 1.3kg tin, as I did. This cuts about 2 hours from the beer making process and produces a dark-red treacle tasting beer capable of winning competitions (entering the Tunbridge Wells Winemakers' Circle beer competition with this in 1998 won me first and second (!) place).

If you want to save some yeast for your own homebrew, Worthington White Shield is available from Waitrose at £2.09 for 500ml.