The Mad Brewer's Diary

September 21, 1995

We took off from the Hotel down station street, headed for the Bass museum, when behind us we hear someone greeting us by name! It turned out to be Chris, the local CAMRA chairperson, whom we had met the previous night at Coopers. He was stopping in to work at the Ind Coope brewery for a while before heading over to the festival. He told us to take a look at the Burton Union system just outside the museum, rotting away outdoors. It was quite impressive, consisting of 20 or so wooden casks and assorted plumbing, it must have been a real pain to keep clean. The Bass museum is worthwhile visiting to get a perspective on what a brewing town Burton has been over the last century or two. The town itself was pretty much taken over by rail lines owned by the Bass brewery. Until the 1960’s there were over 60 rail crossings in the city. The Bass Dray horses are also kept at a stable in the museum area. These horses are gigantic, typically 16 hands high.

We never did find the bar at the museum to get our free beers, but time was running short, so we headed over to the beer festival.

After the festival, there was a special late cheese and bread board, complete with a pint of Kimberley Bitter, back at Coopers Tavern. The cheese was amazing, so we ordered some more.

Wandering further downtown, we arrived at the Burton Bridge Brewery. This is the local microbrewery, which has a small tap room. The Summer Ale is light in color and body. We also tried the Knot Brown Ale.

Later on, we wandered back to the evening session of the Burton Beer Festival, held in the town centre, which they call "Burton’s Biggest Pub" for the duration. The main hall has a big cathedral ceiling, and there are alcoves on 3 sides of the hall, where the casks are set up. It’s almost as if the place was designed for a beer festival. The evening’s entertainment was a sort of Dixieland Jazz band/comedy group, for lack of better description. They welcomed people to the festival, including a couple which travelled all the way from San Jose to attend, the lucky stiffs!

By the way, the ale selection at this festival was great. They had at least half a dozen barley wine class old ales, to go with lots of typical bitters, etc. They were using a new system to keep the casks chilled, kind of a black blanket which goes over the cask, which is glycol chilled. It did a great job of keeping the ales at cellar temperature.

Back to The Mad Brewer goes to England