The Staffordshire Knot Lake

Staffordshire Knot

To begin with I’d like to state that I would love there to be a lake under Burton upon Trent that is not only easily accessible but also navigable by people; imagine the interest and the possible tourist attraction! When such a claim was made on Facebook last week I wanted to do some digging (pardon the pun) into the mystery. Are we walking over caves that rival those in North Derbyshire, is this an urban myth or is it somewhere in between?

The claim goes that the access point was in the yard of the Staffordshire Knot on Station Street, although the pub has long since gone photographic evidence shows it stood next to the Gurkha Curry Lounge dead opposite the old County Court building.

C.C. Owen’s “Burton upon Trent: The Development of Industry” has a map of the principle boreholes and wells of Burton, number 74 is designated “Staffordshire Knot” meaning that there was / is a Borehole in the right place, Owen then tells us this was sunk by Salt & Co. c.1870 and that water was found at 95 feet below ground level, that’s a long way down! So yes there is a Borehole at the Staffordshire Knot that has water at the bottom, but would a man be able to climb down the hole?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a Borehole as “a hole made by boring … a deep vertical hole of small diameter bored into the earth to ascertain the nature of the underlying strata or to obtain water.” This is exactly what Thomas Salt been doing in c.1870, looking for water to brew with.

So Boreholes; how big are they and are they the same as a Well? On groundwateruk.org they state a Well is wide enough to allow a man to dig it, 95 feet seems like a lot of work! To reach that depth it would be a Borehole that are smaller in diameter and require machinery like a drilling rig (this was in the 1870’s so it would have either been hand, horse or steam powered). Hardly likely that it would be wide enough for a person to pass down?

So from this I can’t see there being a hole big enough for a person to access the water below, let alone one big enough to get a boat down. I also wonder how they’d breathe down there?

There is an underground boat in Burton, this is accessed via the basement of 107 Station Street (aka Allied Breweries Offices, B Block, Punch, Spirit or if you are being precise Allsopp’s New Brewery). This was built in 1858 on land next to the railway line, but there was a problem; a brook called the Moor Mill Dam which crossed the land from Horninglow Street at Brook Street running towards the foot of the Station Bridge. To overcome this Allsopp built a tunnel over it and buried it. The tunnel needed to be checked for subsidence etc. periodically so a boat floats on the brook to enable this to be done.I think the story of the Staffordshire Knot lake and the Allsopp boat have become confused. Pity as I really wanted it to be true.

The burden of proof is therefore with those making the claim, so as much as I want to believe; photographic evidence is needed.

 

James Eadie’s Trade Mark X Whisky

“A Wee Drappie”

Rupert Patrick

“I am the great-great grandson of James Eadie on my Mother’s side,” says Rupert Patrick. “My grandfather Jim Eadie, was the last Eadie to be directly employed by the business. He retired as Chairman shortly after the Second World War.”

Rupert has vast experience in the whisky trade: “I started my career at Ian Macleod Distillers, 1991-2004, as Export Manager and then Director; I worked at Beam Suntory from 2004 to 2011; I moved to Diageo in January 2012 and stayed there until June 2014 when I left to set up WhiskyInvestDirect and James Eadie Ltd.”

So who was James Eadie and why would a blended Scotch whisky of interest to The Beertonian?

James Eadie was born in the village of Blackford in Perthshire in 1827; his family owned a large posting business and to which they later added a small brewery. Eadie moved to England in search of his fortune and joined his uncle in Fazeley, working in the industry of that great British drink, tea.

After his uncle returned to Scotland due to ill health, James stayed and expanded his skills to a Maltster. He’d sell his malt in Burton and as his business became more successful his monthly visits became more and more frequent until he decided to settle in the town. Realising that Burton Pale Ale was becoming a very popular drink he turned his hand to brewing and leased an area of land on Cross Street where he built a small brewery in 1854. By all accounts he learnt his trade over a number of years, eventually perfecting his own Pale Ale.

James Eadie’s Cross Street Brewery [Barnard]
In the early days it was a labour intensive business, Eadie employed two other men and the process was all done by hand, even down to grinding the malt and pumping the water. He had a brew length of twelve barrels and produced around 250 barrels in the first year, this became 680 in the second year and by the late 1880’s they were producing twice that volume every week!

To cope with increasing demand the brewery was expanded, including a Maltings on Park Street, until it was decided in 1883 to build a new premises, this was opened on 31 January 1888, by which time Mr Eadie’s sons were helping to run the business.

Along with his brewing interests James Eadie was also famed for his own blend of Scotch whisky, which had been created by his father. It was described by The Wine Trade Review in 1877: “… little Highland whisky is now consumed as distilled. The public find blends so much better balanced and palatable.”

James Eadie’s registered an X as his trade mark in 1877 and this adorned both his ale and whisky. The brand survived after James Eadie’s death in 1903 and the brewery was sold to Bass in 1933. By the mid 1940’s both beer and whisky ceased production, although the company James Eadie dealt in wines and spirits into the 1960’s; and that is where the story might have ended …

“We managed to track down the James Eadie whisky ledgers from the late 19th century,” says Rupert, revealing where the germ of an idea originated. “These are in the National Brewery Centre Archive and contain around twenty years of whisky blending history. They are very well preserved and show in great detail how Mr Eadie was making his whisky. It also shows the cask types he used for maturation and the ages at which he bottled the various malts and grains that were blended together to produce Trade Mark X.”

Following this Rupert was given two bottles that dated back to the 1940’s which once belonged to Jim Eadie, the last Chairman: “My uncle Alastair Eadie has a few bottles left over from the closure of the business. I’m guessing that his father asked for enough whisky to last his lifetime! Alastair, kindly, gave me a couple of bottles when I showed signs of reviving the business.”

The whisky lived up to expectations: “The bottle we tasted from the 1940’s was outstandingly delicious!”

“We have a total of fourteen whiskies in our blend including great names such as Lagavulin, Glendronach, Blair Athol, Glenturret, Talisker and Caol Ila,” these whiskies are also in great demand as Single Malts, making Trade Mark X a unique blend. “Eadie’s also used whiskies from three or four other distilleries which shut down at the turn of 20th century so clearly we had no chance of using these ones!”

The old and the new

Two of the fourteen were to prove a challenge in sourcing, but they were necessary to ensure an authentic recreation: “The hardest to track down were the Cambus grain and Littlemill malt; these distilleries closed down in the early 1990s so stock is old, scarce and expensive! The Littlemill commands a huge premium in the market mainly because independent bottlers are chasing it and the market for such malts is very active,” Rupert had to use all of his connections. “I managed to find some but I don’t divulge where I got the stock! Luckily the quality of the whisky was extremely good.”

“The Cambus is a little easier to track down but still rare and in demand. We were very lucky to get access to Sherry Butt stock and it really is outstanding, so much so that we decided to bottle one butt of it as a single grain. This is a 24 year old Cambus, bottled as a James Eadie single grain; it is selling very well and will be sold out within another few weeks.”

With all the whiskies found it was time to call in an expert: “Norman Mathison was selected to be our Master Blender, he worked for Invergordon/Whyte & Mackay for most of his career and has 50 years blending experience! When he saw the ledgers and the whiskies therein he jumped at the chance to revive it.”

Trade Mark X

So how does the 2017 version compare to the original: “It’s very much in the same ‘family style’, with quite a richly peated offset by the more fruity Speyside flavours. The 1940’s one was also slightly more sherried in nature, however the balance of the blend is consistent between the two.”

If this has whetted your appetite to try, as Victorian beer and whisky historian Alfred Barnard once said, “a wee drappie” of Trade Mark X, it is stocked by Royal Mile Whiskies, Master of Malt, 86 Waitrose branches, Daylesford shops and many independent retailers.

www.jameseadie.co.uk

New logo

Welcome to the new blog logo; I wanted something that looked familiar but wasn’t close enough to a copyrighted image. I had the original idea to make a pastiche of the Bass logo and it was made real by an old uni friend Helen.

I then started to get worried, what if it was too close for comfort, would I end up getting sued or at least be on the end of a cease and desist letter from InBev? Not only do they own the Bass brand, they are also the largest brewer in the world and probably have a pretty decent legal team. I emailed them, never expecting a reply, however a few hours later they got back to me saying it was fine from an Intellectual Property level and that I was okay to use it. Sometimes it pays to be cheeky,

The Away Fan’s Guide to Real Ale in Burton upon Trent (Part Two)

Burton upon Trent was once the Brewing Capital of the World, producing more beer than London. Since 1708 there have been over 100 breweries in the town, although now this number stands at eight; Marston’s, Coors, Burton Bridge, Tower, Old Cottage, Heritage Brewing Company, Burton Town and Gates.

The town has a surprisingly high number of excellent pubs, many serving locally brewed ales and is the perfect place to explore prior to a game; so whether this is your first ever visit to Burton Albion or you’ve been before, there’s a lot to see and drink. The following guide in split into two parts (see the rest here) and lists the pubs from the closest to the furthest away from the Pirelli Stadium.

Enjoy your time in Burton, cheers!

 

DEVONSHIRE ARMS

Where? Station Street

Distance to ground? 1.5 miles / 30 minute walk

A few hundred yards further down Station Street from The Last Heretic you’ll find Burton Bridge Brewery’s Devonshire Arms. Previously this was run by Ind Coope and it was once run by long gone brewers James Eadie (check out the old photograph on the wall).

Real Ale? Always six Burton Bridge ales on rotation and one guest. The new Landlord will be alternating Golden Delicious with Sovereign Gold and Damson Porter with Bramble Stout. One of the few places to sell Draught Burton Ale.

Food? Snacks and pork pies.

 

THE COOPERS TAVERN

Where? Cross Street

Distance to ground? 1.5 miles / 31 minute walk

Beautiful pub situated on Cross Street which is just off Station Street. This was a Bass house for years and was originally used to store Bass Russian Imperial Stout. After being run by Kimberley Ales, it is now a Joules pub. Recently refurbished in keeping with the pub’s unique character and there is a new beer garden too.

Real Ale? The Coopers have famously served Draught Bass straight from the cask for years. There are also three Joules ales on, Slumbering Monk, either the Blonde or the Pale and a craft keg. An extensive range of guests from the likes of Bristol Beer Factory, Nene Valley, Sarah Hughes, Thornbridge, Dancing Duck and Arbor.

Food? Cheese boards, pork pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls.

 

THE BREWERY TAP

Where? Horninglow Street

Distance to ground? 1.0 miles / 20 minute walk

Sited in the grounds of the National Brewery Centre, as you might expect the walls are full of brewery memorabilia. Lovely beer garden at the front.

Real Ales? The Heritage Brewing Co. brews on site and there are always five of their beers on sale along with a local guest.

Food? Sunday carvery and an excellent range of bar food and meals. If you show your ticket they will offer you a discount.

 

BURTON BRIDGE INN

Where? Bridge Street

Distance to ground? 1.1 miles / 21 minute walk

This is the brewery tap for Burton Bridge Brewery which is located just behind the pub. This was once a Bass house called the Fox & Goose (check the sign out). A delightful friendly place that has won a lot of awards over the years.

Real Ale? Six Burton Bridge Ales are always on, with another as a guest.

Food? Pork pies, cobs and scotch eggs.

 

THE FUGGLE & NUGGET

Where? High Street

Distance to ground? 1.1 miles / 23 minute walk

Micropub that opens Tuesday to Saturday, sits opposite what was once the hub of Burton’s brewing industry, High Street being home to Burton Brewery Co., Salt’s, Allsopp’s, Bass and Worthington.

Real ale? Always three or four ales on, excellent choice of real ciders.

Food? Pork pies and crisps.

 

THE CROSSING

Where? High Street

Distance to ground? 1.3 miles / 26 minute walk

An Enterprise gastropub. The building was known as The Blue Posts for years, the new name references the Worthington Brewery railway crossing gate that was once next door. Beer garden to rear.

Real Ale? Five core ales: Oakham Citra, Dancing Duck Ay Up, Bass, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Doombar, also have two guest ales.

Food? A wide and varied menu, if you fancy a proper meal this is the place to go to.

 

THE DOG

Where? Lichfield Street

Distance to ground? 1.5 miles / 31 minute walk

A Black Country Ales pub that boasts the widest selection of beer in the town. Local CAMRA pub of the year for the last two years and although it is the furthest pub from the ground, it is well worth the extra effort. One of the few places in town where cask and craft ale co-exist in harmony.

Real Ale? Eleven handpulls, always three from Black Country Ales and Draught Bass, the rest are guests. Since opening in May 2015 they’ve had over 1800 different beers on. Real ciders always available and remember to visit Craft Corner.

Food? The usual pub snacks.

Part One

The Away Fan’s Guide to Real Ale in Burton upon Trent (Part One)

Burton upon Trent was once the Brewing Capital of the World, producing more beer than London. Since 1708 there have been over 100 breweries in the town, although now this number stands at eight; Marston’s, Coors, Burton Bridge, Tower, Old Cottage, Heritage Brewing Company, Burton Town and Gates.

The town has a surprisingly high number of excellent pubs, many serving locally brewed ales and is the perfect place to explore prior to a game; so whether this is your first ever visit to Burton Albion or you’ve been before, there’s a lot to see and drink. The following guide in spilt into two parts (see the rest here) and lists the pubs from the closest to the furthest away from the Pirelli Stadium.

Enjoy your time in Burton, cheers!

 

THE GREAT NORTHERN

Where? Wetmore Road

Distance to ground? 0.3 miles / 6 minute walk

Geographically this is the closest pub to the Pirelli Stadium; but only just. This is used predominantly by home fans, although away supporters are made welcome. The Great Northern was a Marston’s pub for years and years before being added to the Burton Bridge Brewery estate, it is now a free house. They have two pool tables and a large room at the back with the finest darts facilities in the town.

Real Ale? There is always Marston’s Pedigree available and they have a guest beer on match days which is often Burton Bridge Bitter.

Food? Hot dogs, pies and cobs before the game.

 

THE BEECH HOTEL

Where? Derby Road

Distance to ground? 0.3 miles / 7 minute walk

If you are travelling by coach, chances are you will be directed here. The pub has an outside bar with Sky Sports facilities and the Landlord encourages a friendly atmosphere, so singing is fine.

Real Ale? Marston’s Pedigree.

Food? Standard hot and cold pub fare.

 

THE HANBURY ARMS

Where? Sydney Street

Distance to ground? 0.4 mile / 8 minute walk

A back street pub just off Derby Road, used to be one of the few Truman, Hanbury & Buxton pubs in town.

Real ale? Pedigree is a permanent feature, may have a guest.

Food? Cobs on Saturdays.

 

BURTON TOWN BREWERY

Where? Falcon Close, just off Hawkins Lane

Distance to ground? 0.5 miles / 10 minute walk

The brewery is visible from Hawkins Lane but is partially obscured by trees, look for the Red Hand logo on an industrial unit. They serve beer that is brewed on the premises; the mash tun is just behind the bar. Limited opening hours: Friday 1200 – 2000 and Saturday 1200 – 1500.

Real Ale? Albion, Black as your Hat, Thom Cat and Burton IPA are usually on, they are looking at expanding this to six.

Food? None, but you are welcome to bring your own.

 

THE DERBY INN

Where? Derby Road

Distance to ground? 0.5 miles / 11 minute walk

This is situated on the other part of Derby Road on a direct route from the railway station. Recently refurbished pub and one for the real ale drinker.

Real Ale? Three core beers: Draught Bass (now brewed by Marston’s, but still an excellent pint), Timothy Taylor Boltmaker and the excellent Titanic Plum Porter which is the best thing to come out of Stoke since oatcakes.

Food? Cobs on match days and ask about the pizzas!

 

ALFRED ALE HOUSE

Where? Derby Street

Distance to ground? 1 mile / 21 minute walk

A Burton Bridge Brewery house that was once the brewery tap for the long since demolished Truman, Hanbury & Buxton brewery which stood directly opposite. Again on the direct route from the Railway Station, a very spacious pub and one for the real ale enthusiast.

Real Ale? Lots! There are always six or seven Burton Bridge ales on and a guest. There is also real cider / perry during the warmer weather.

 

THE WEIGHBRIDGE INN

Where? Derby Street

Distance to ground? 1.2 miles / 24 minute walk

A delightful small pub that is well worth seeking out. If you are walking directly from the railway station this should be your first stop. As you come down the bridge into Derby Street, the pub is on the right tucked away in the Travelodge car park.

Real Ale? There is always something on from local brewery Burton Old Cottage and they often have feature another local brewery Heritage Brewing Co.

Food? If you are fortunate there may be homemade cottage pie available.

 

THE ROEBUCK INN

Where? Station Street

Distance to ground? 1.4 miles / 28 minute walk

Come out the Railway Station and turn right into town, The Roebuck Inn is the first pub you will come to. For years this was an Ind Coope house (look out for the sign and window as evidence) and is now run by Admiral Taverns.

Real Ale? There is always Draught Bass, Martson’s Pedigree, Abbot and Old Peculiar on handpump, along with a beer from Gates Burton Brewery which is brewed a few miles away, try the GBA or Reservoir if its on.

 

THE LAST HERETIC

Where? Station Street

Distance to ground? 1.4 miles / 29 minute walk

A short walk into town from the Roebuck you’ll find micropub The Last Heretic. They open at 11am on match days, an hour earlier than the other pubs. There is a beer garden out back if the place gets crowded.

Real Ale? Always at least three on, rising to five at weekends. They feature ales from all over the country as well as more local breweries like Tower and Gates from Burton and Leatherbritches, Falstaff, Dancing Duck and Black Hole from slightly out of town. There is always real cider available as well as Craft Beer cans.

Food? Cobs and pork pies.

Part Two

 

Beer Nouveau & Barley Wine

Sited under the railway arches on North Western Street in Manchester, Beer Nouveau’s The Temperance Brewery may not be the obvious choice for a feature on Burton upon Trent obsessed blog The Beertonian, but there is a very important connection which will become apparent later …

“I started homebrewing when I was fourteen and I’m now in my mid-forties so I’ve experimented with most styles,” says Head Brewer Steve Dunkley. “I used to run pubs back in the 90’s, before going into IT and about four years ago went commercial with brewing again. I started Beer Nouveau in my garage and ran it as England’s smallest commercial brewery for a year before deciding that it just wasn’t really a long-term option.”

If you want to see how Steve started, he shares all his secrets on his web site http://beernouveau.co.uk/ where he shows in great detail how to build a nine gallon brewery using old key kegs for under fifty quid.

He quickly found suitable premises: “When Privateer Beers decided to sell up and move on, I bought his kit off him in-situ and moved in. A year later the people we were sharing the railway arch with moved out so we expanded again to include a regular weekend brewery tap. The kit itself was handmade by Privateer, it’s six barrels with a fourteen barrel mash tun which allows us to do the big beers in single mashes.”

“I’ve always had an interest in heritage brewing,” Steve reveals. You can probably see where this is going because if Burton has one thing in abundance, it is old beers! “Mostly it stems from the belief that for all these big breweries to have got so large and to have survived for so long the beers must have been good. And by recreating the recipes I’ve been finding just that. They take longer but they’re definitely worth it.”

Steve is a great believer in attention to detail: “Recently I had a tonne of Chevallier kilned to my own pattern (Tetley’s 1860’s pale) to properly recreate an IPA and the difference is very noticeable.”

It was this passion for heritage brewing that led to him working with recently relaunched London brewer Truman’s. Of course Truman’s were once known as Truman, Hanbury & Buxton and along with their London premises on Brick Lane in Spitalfields they owned The Black Eagle Brewery on Derby Street in Burton, moving there in 1873 and staying until 1971, the brewery being demolished in 1974. They owned several pubs in Burton: Prince Alfred (a.k.a. Alfred Ale House) on Derby Street which was once the brewery tap, British Oak (a.k.a. Old Cottage) on Byrkley Street, Eagle on Thornley Street, Hanbury Arms on Sydney Street and the Roebuck on Station Street. The new Truman’s are based  at The Eyrie in Hackney Wick opening in 2013 and they hold the original brewery archives; found here are the all-important recipe books.

“One of Truman’s brewers did indeed come up and brew it here with us, it was a proper joint brew rather than just sharing a recipe or sending someone from the sales team along to have their picture taken,” says Steve. “I think our unlikely collaboration came about and worked for a few reasons: Truman’s are a forty barrel brewery; I’m a six barrel. They’ve a big team of staff; I’m a one man operation. Those are benefits when it comes to our collaboration, because I’m a one man brewery I get to decide what I want to brew, and when, which means I can make the decision to brew something that might not sell and I can change my brewing schedule on a whim. I’m small enough to be able to brew a big, powerful beer that might not be popular; with only eighteen firkins to shift rather than the 160 or so that Truman’s would need to sell if they brewed it on their kit. Plus brewing on my kit also makes it qualify for Small Brewers Relief, making it a lot more commercially viable for something like this. The other benefit of my kit is that although it’s a six barrel brew length it has a fourteen barrel mash tun so I can do big beers in single mashes.”

A big beer you say? How big do you want? 1916 No.1 Burton Barley Wine at 8.3%! Now that is massive!

“The barley wine itself is truly something else,” you can hear the pleasure in his voice and if this doesn’t get you drooling, what is wrong with you! “To be honest I think we initially released it too early; it was ready and tasting very good, but now that the stuff I’ve got in wooden pins has aged a bit (they’ve been in there since January) it’s tasting absolutely stunning. It’s smooth and light bodied, there’s no booziness to it, just an underlying awareness of alcohol. The wood’s worked with the remaining sugars to dry it out and give it vanilla notes, and the hops are hints. The whole thing is incredibly well balanced and very, very easy to drink.”

How easy you may ask: “We had a guy at the bar last night drinking pints of it! No one who has tried it hasn’t liked it; most are surprised that it’s as light as it is and that it’s not as boozy as they were expecting. I think they’ve got an idea of barley wine in their minds based on modern ones and this is completely different. A bit like how heritage IPA’s are nothing like modern ones!

“Unfortunately there isn’t much of it, just the 5 barrel brew length we did,” hardly surprising if there is a chap drinking it in pints! “Truman’s took ten firkins and I believe they were sold before we’d even finished brewing it and I put a barrel’s worth into an old whisky barrel that’s ageing before bottling in time for Christmas. I did bottle some of the un-aged barley wine, which will be available on the brewery website when I sort that part of it out but again there isn’t much.”

And there’s more to come: “It was a risk brewing a big heritage barley wine but it’s definitely paid off. We’re talking with the guys at Truman’s about the next collaboration we’ll do from their brewing records, hopefully we’ll bring them all back eventually!”

 

http://beernouveau.co.uk/ @BeerNouveau

www.trumansbeer.co.uk @trumansbeer

 

If you fancy trying this at home, Steve has very kindly detailed the recipe below:

Malt: Chevallier 43%, Maris 24%, Extra Pale 12%, Flaked Maize 12% and High Enzyme (Weyerman Pilsner) 9%

Grain varieties have changed a lot over the years and keep changing, but we used Chevallier as our base malt because it’s an old grain (1824 I think) and was still around in the late 1800s and would have been very similar to grain around in the early 1900s. Maris Otter was the second grain because it has a high biscuitiness like Chevallier and Extra Pale bulked it out as they originally did to take advantage of cheap grain available. The Pilsner malt was a substitution, I’ve found brewing older recipes and with Chevallier in particular that mashes have to be a lot longer to get the sugars out. The enzymic content of the malt just doesn’t seem as high as the records would suggest, so putting in some pilsner malt takes care of that and brings the gravities up.

We were aiming for 1.079, but even with a longer mash and the pilsner malt we only got 1.072. Our final gravity was lower though, the records showed 1.020 while we got 1.009. Originally the beer would have gone into wood, so fermentation would have continued as it aged bringing that 1.020 gravity down further. So overall we’ve hit the right alcohol, just in a slightly different way. The flaked maize along with the Chevallier gave it a wonderful golden / amber colour and a slight residual sweetness, but not a cloying one.

Hops wise, not as many as you’d think for a beer that would have sat for a bit, with an overall IBU of 43. First wort hops as the beer went into the copper were Goldings to 22 IBU and at the start of a 90 minute boil we added Cluster to 6 IBU. At 30 minutes to go we added more Goldings up to 15 IBU and no late addition or aroma hops. However it was dry hopped with more Goldings.

We did want to use the original Truman’s house strain yeast, but we weren’t able to for this brew, so we used Nottingham this time for two reasons: firstly I like it, secondly it likes my kit. It’s a good solid yeast with similarities to the Truman’s house yeast.

Marston’s Home Brew Club

I remember home brewing from when I was a young lad, one of my “uncles” (he was a friend of the family, so became a bonus uncle) used to knock up his own beer in the shed. There seemed to be just two measurements of quality: firstly how quickly it got you pissed and secondly how quickly your eyesight returned. I consider myself fortunate that I wasn’t old enough to ever try it; it may well have put me off beer for life.

My uncle was typical of many men, he had small children and a mortgage meaning his beer money was limited; home brewing was a cheap and simple way to achieve the “desired end point”; this was the same person I recall attempting to open a Party Seven keg one New Year’s Eve with a screwdriver and a hammer, so if he was happily drinking this, his home brew possibly wasn’t that far off the mark.

Of course since the mid 1970’s things have moved on somewhat. Instead of brewing from a kit, today’s home brewers are just as likely to use proper recipes with crushed malt, other adjuncts and hops; in essence a scaled down version of what happens in a proper brewery. This is serious stuff, although the desired end point still remains the same.

I am not a brewer; I tried once 25 years ago and ended up with vinegary liquid. The closest I got was at Burton Bridge Brewery for their first ever brew of Draught Burton Ale, I also had a hand in brewing Dual Diamond at the Burton Old Cottage in 2015 and I helped John Mills at Tower Brewery too, but generally my brewing experience has been limited to lugging sacks of malt, weighing out hops, and digging out the steaming mash tun. So again, I am not a brewer, but I know a few people who certainly are and recently I got to know even more brewers at the Marston’s Home Brew Club who meet once a month at Marston’s Brewery in Burton upon Trent.

In 2016 Marston’s built, not a micro, but a nanobrewery called DE14 which proudly sits in their Visitors’ Centre, the name taken from the Burton upon Trent postcode. In recent months beers developed at DE14 such as Flight Suit and End Point have found their way into pubs and shops.

Marston’s Home Brew Club began to meet in late 2016, the idea being to bring the local home brewing community together; a theme is given for each meeting and the members brew a beer in keeping with this; these are then shared. I found myself sat with people who had a vast array of brewing experience, at one end there was me and at the other a chap called Pat McGinty, who in his day job is none other than Marston’s Head Brewer.

“We want to celebrate our roots, our place in the spiritual home of brewing; Burton-on-Trent,” explains Pat, who is of course a Burton lad. “Having built DE14, the 600 pint nanobrewery to experiment and trial new beers, the next most natural step was to build a local community of beer lovers.”

The first beer of the night was rather special and I’ll say nothing more about it apart from it’s a new idea from Marston’s and that we were the few members of the public to try it; it was bloody lovely too!

The beers bought to the table by the club members ranged from a Double IPA at a whopping 8%, a Brown Ale, a Barley Wine, two NEIPA’s and a Weizen that was brewed by a relatively new member of the club Kurt Brown: “Along with the more traditional Saaz and Hersbrucker, I used Cascade American hops in the boil. It was recreated from a recipe in the Brewdog DIY Dog book, which contains recipes for their beers.”

“I started brewing with extract in April 2017, moving to all grain in October 2017,” Kurt reveals. “I’ve only attended two meetings so far, it was great to be able to bring beers that I had made to be tasted by more experienced brewers and a professional brewer.”

Kurt’s kit consists of a converted picnic cooler for the mash tun, a 30 litre stock pot with a propane gas burner and a plastic fermenter. The difference between good and great beer is in the detail, like controlling fermentation temperatures: “I use a Brewers Pad which is a heated mat and a heat-belt around the fermenter.”

Home brew is not a cheap hobby as Kurt attests: “A hoppy IPA with an extensive dry hop can be roughly £60 for twenty litres.” This works out at just under £2 a pint, although if the results are anything like what was drunk tonight then these are beers that would happily grace any pub; a couple of the IPA’s would be lapped up at £5 for 2/3 pint in a hipster bar.

Richard Hill has been coming since the start: “I have learnt so much from the other brewers. I was a complete beginner when I joined, having only done one all grain brew and a couple of kits with varying success. With the feedback I have been able to improve my brewing. To be honest most of the technical stuff goes over my head but I’m slowly learning.”

“It’s always good to meet up fellow home brewers,” says Malc Newton. “I find it useful to get fresh ideas, for example I found out about tilt hydrometers here and also the use of smoked malts.”

“Another great thing about the club is being able to chat to Marston’s staff, especially Patrick,” says Richard. “They are always willing to pass on their knowledge, and you get to try some excellent beers!”

The last word goes to Pat: “Creating the Home Brewers Club means that we can share knowledge from both sides and tap into all kinds of brewing talent, sometimes drawing inspiration from fresh ideas and creativity. It is always an absolute pleasure and we’ve all been motivated by the meetings.”

So if you are local to Burton upon Trent and are an experienced home brewer, or you fancy trying it for the first time, the Home Brew Club meet once a month and they will make you very welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/MarstonsHomeBrewClub/   @MarstonsBrewery

Auction Watch: Nunneley’s ceramic plaque

Not that much is known about Nunneley’s brewery; it was founded at 21 Bridge Street, Burton upon Trent, c.1835 probably by Thomas Newton, by 1843 the business was being run by Joseph Nunneley who rebuilt the brewery on the same site and added a townhouse which still stands today. The company was floated on the stock market in 1888 as J. Nunneley & Co. Ltd, before merging with the Burton Brewery Co. Ltd. in 1896 whom were directly next door.

A ceramic plaque measuring 14.5cm in diameter advertising sold this week, the estimated price was £20-30, however it sold for an incredible £1,300!

 

The Dog celebrates with Wild Weather

Landlord John McLaughlin

This coming weekend marks the third anniversary of the reopening of The Dog on Lichfield Street. The pub won Burton & South Derbyshire CAMRA Pub of the Year in both 2017 and 2018 are holding a birthday beer festival which runs from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 May, where drinkers can sample 35 real ales, craft ales and ciders.

“This will be our sixth beer festival, we do two a year,” says Landlord John McLaughlin. “This year I am partnering up with Wild Weather from Reading, they are the brewery that I’ve featured here the most, apart from Thornbridge who have a permanent tap on. They do great beers; they’ve only been going a couple of years themselves.”

The festival kicks off in style on Thursday: “We’ve got the owner and the Head Brewer coming down to do a ‘Meet the Brewer’,” says John excitedly. “We’ve got some local bands playing, barbeque , meat raffle, games … it’s more of a social one for the staff, it’s hard work at a beer festival but we can all let our hair down and have a laugh and enjoy the job.”

The only ever cask of End of Level Boss

Wild Weather are bringing an array of beers that cover all different styles: “We’ve got eight casks and six kegs, everything from a normal 4.2% English Pale Ale, an 8% Imperial Russian Stout, a mango and lime milkshake IPA, a rosemary and lemon sour and a dry hopped sour using Simcoe which is one of my favourite hops.”

John is also able to boast an exclusive: “I’ve got the only cask they have ever done of End of Level Boss which is a 9.2% Double IPA, it’s not even a full cask, it’s just a pin. I often get the stronger beers on the keg lines, but it is nice to get them on cask; I imagine that will go quickly. At the last festival we had another Double IPA on cask and that was the first to go. We only sell it in thirds as it gets a bit silly people ordering pints of a 9.2% beer.”

Come down and join John and his hard working staff this coming weekend: “It’s going to be absolutely fantastic; I can’t wait to drink a lot of their beers!”

@TheDogBurton

https://www.facebook.com/thedoginnburton/

https://wildweatherales.com/

@WildWeatherAles

Beer is good for you!

Interesting early examples of Burton beer advertising, obviously from a very different time when beer was marketed as having a positive effect on you, note the use of the words “tonic” and “health”!

Images taken from Martyn Cornell’s blog Zythophile. To read the original article please click here. Sorry again Martyn!

So what IS the difference between barley wine and old ale?