It had been ten years since my last visit to this small town near Telford in Shropshire so another visit was planned to coincide with the 44th Beer Festival in the Crown.  No cheap advance bookings were available on morning departures from Sheffield to Birmingham, so I opted to travel via Stockport instead. The hourly Arriva Trains Wales service between Stockport and Shrewsbury takes about an hour. The short walk to Shrewsbury bus station allowed me to catch the X4 limited stop Arriva service from Shrewsbury to Telford via Wellington and took 45 minutes, followed by another shorter bus ride to Oakengates.
Crown Inn, Oakengates
I was the first customer to walk into the Crown Inn (CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2018 entry) when it opened at noon. It is a bright yellow painted building on Market Street and the layout was as I remembered it. Both front and back bars were adorned with hand pumps, as was the temporary bar in the back room, making 34 in total. My visit was on the first day of their 5 day festival and 26 pumps were in use.  I sampled halves from Castle Rock, Lancaster, Glastonbury, Coastal, Pitchfork and Green Duck breweries, the pick of which being Castle Rock Songbird (4.2%) which was very light and refreshing. Directly across the road from the Crown is the Station Hotel (GBG 2018). Like the Crown, plenty of hand pumps were in evidence on both front and back bars.  I sampled a 5% beer from Mallinsons to commemorate their 10 years of brewing, together with beers from Fernandes, Fixed Wheel and to make me feel at home, Abbeydale Carousel.
Elephant and Castle, Dawley
Two doors up from the Station Hotel is the Old Fighting Cocks (GBG 2018). This is a regular outlet for Hop & Stagger Brewery beers and I sampled their Golden Wander and Shropshire Pale Ale.   The landlord of the Crown also runs another pub in the village of Dawley so using the West Midlands Day Saver ticket again which I had purchased in Shrewsbury I took the short bus ride back into Telford and then another short ride to Dawley to visit the Elephant & Castle, a grade 2 listed building at the head of the High Street. I only had time for a couple of halves here from the 12 hand pumps as time was pushing on and the last bus back to Shrewsbury was at 18.10.  My choices were from Rudgate and Joule’s. Then it was back to Telford bus station and the X5 back to Shrewsbury. I was not due to leave Stockport until the 21.28 train so I could spend an hour in either Shrewsbury or Stockport and I chose the latter so boarded the next train from Shrewsbury to Stockport.  I decided on a quick visit to the Stockport Slope and called in the Magnet (GBG 2018) where I had a beer from the in-house Magnet Brewery with the catchy name of Brian/Alan/Steve/Sarah Bitter at 5%, named after the people for whom it was brewed, together with one from Ossett Brewery.  The nearby Railway (GBG 2018) provided a very drinkable Brightside Amarillo at 4.4%.  Back to Sheffield now and the last drink of the day was Bad Seed Become The Legend in the Sheffield Tap (GBG 2018) followed by a brisk walk for the bus. Andy Morton

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