Let me tell you a few facts about one of my favourite places – the National Brewery Centre, in Burton-on-Trent:
1. It’s in Burton-on-Trent, birthplace of British beer:
Burton-on-Trent is a treasure trove of British brewing history. The town has been brewing since the 11th century, had a little run in with Henry VIII in the 1500s (but who didn’t), first exported Burton Pale Ale to India in 1822 and, by the end of the 1800s, was producing more beer than London. While the latter is no longer the case, Burton is still home to many breweries including big guns Molson Coors and slightly smaller guns Marston’s.
If you would like to know more, there are plenty more knowledgeable than I on this topic. A good place to start might be this lovely article from 1986, published in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing and Pete Brown also wrote this informative piece in 2007 for All About Beer.
2. They have a museum:
And what a museum! Beer memorabilia, real stories and photographs from the people who actually helped to build Burton as a brewing capital, horses (okay not really part of the museum, but horses!), an impressive range of vehicles including my favourite – the Worthington Bottle Car – and an awful lot of the original Bass Collection including some really wonderful signage.
The first time we visited we assumed we’d just pop in and have a quick look around – what a mistake! We spent hours in the museum and even when we left knew we hadn’t seen everything.
3. They brew their own beer:
Since 2011 the William Worthington Brewery has been producing high quality, historic beers within the National Brewery Centre. Their head brewer, Steve Wellington, is widely credited with saving Worthington’s White Shield so you know you’re in good hands. I think my favourite might be the Charrington IPA, closely followed by the Best Bitter. And the oatmeal stout. Oh just try them all.
You won’t be surprised to hear that the Brewery Tap is a little bit special. Small, but full of light, comfortable and spacious, plenty of cask, bit of keg, all kept perfectly.
4. They’re next to the Burton Bridge Inn:
Ahh, the Burton Bridge Inn, possibly my favourite pub in the world. A real English boozer with dark wood, fireplaces, cozy corners and a wonderful selection of real ales thanks to the Burton Bridge Brewery. Oh, and a skittle alley! It really is the perfect boozer, and just a few minutes walk from the National Brewery Centre.
5. They have an amazing international beer festival every other year:
I’ve just realised the next one won’t be until 2019 so, er, sorry about that – but pop it in your calendar anyway! Their biennial International Festival of Beer has a brilliant selection of some of the very best beers and ciders entered for The International Brewing Awards from around the UK and over 50 countries worldwide.
When we arrived at our first in 2015 we were a little underwhelmed. After all, it was just a marquee in the grounds of the museum – how good could it be? Well, fantastic actually. Live bands, an excellent selection of international food and an outstanding range of beer turned it into one of the best (if not the best) beer festival we’d ever attended. In fact…
6. I loved it so much I got married there:
Here’s a photo of us next to a million signs about beer. Nuff said.
The National Brewery Centre is open every day except Christmas and Boxing Day. Check out visiting times and book tickets here.