A brewery or brewhouse, is a place where beer is brewed. For beer lovers, the glory of Great Britain is cask-conditioned ale. It imparts a roundness and depth of flavor to the finished brew which otherwise is difficult to achieve. The variety of Breweries found in Britain is as diverse as the beers themselves. Ranging from the smallest being a single brewhouse behind a pub, to the large national brewers which often take over a whole town.
Highgate Brewery, built in 1898 which is located in the Black Country town of Walsall, is typical of the time when attention to detail was the norm and when brewers could afford to spend a fair sum of money on the architectural style of their buildings. Unfortunately, today the government takes so much tax from a pint of beer that many breweries have been closed down or been taken over by the multi nationals, Highgate's six-storey brick facility exemplifies a standard Victorian tower brewery. In fact, the well-preserved building now is listed on Britain's national historic register. The brewery name came from an actual "high gate" that once allowed access to old Walsall. And while Highgate has produced bitter and pale ale in the past (in addition to the Old Ale), its principal product always has been a dark mild.
Highgate was purchased by Birmingham's Mitchells & Butlers Brewery in 1939. At first, the new owners kept Highgate open in order to claim its allowance of raw materials (malt, hops, etc.) during wartime rationing. But Highgate continued to operate after the war because its beer had become strongly associated with the local area. Mitchells & Butlers was subsequently taken over by the Bass brewing group and many of the former M&B breweries ceased or moved production to their huge site at Cape Hill in Smethwick, north west of Birmingham.
Mitchells & Butlers Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton, ceased production of the uninspiring 'Springfield Bitter' although the brewery buildings still remain. A part of the site is now used for distribution.
Burton upon Trent, a Town in Staffordshire, central England, on the
River Trent, northeast of Birmingham, is regarded as the capital of the brewing industry
in Britain. It is a former cotton-spinning town. Brewing is the principal industry, with
five major breweries in operation; marmite savoury spread is produced from the yeast
by-products. Engineering, food-processing, and the manufacture of tyres and rubber goods
are also important. The Benedictine monks of Burton Abbey (founded in 1002) began the
town's tradition of brewing in the 11th century.
Burton Union: A method of fermenting beer in which yeast is transferred from large casks into subsequent brews. The system was once used in the brewing of Draught Bass but now only Marstons use the system to brew their Pedigree ale.
Shepherd Neame, regarded as Britain's oldest brewery, began in 1698
when Captain Richard Marsh of the Cinque Ports Militia, a mayor of Faversham, founded a
brewery over an artesian well in the town. During that period Faversham was a bustling
port and already enjoyed a brewing tradition dating back to the 12th century when King
Stephen founded a Benedictine abbey just yards from the present brewery site. It didn't
take the Cluniac monks long to discover that Faversham's pure spring water could be
combined with locally-grown malting barley to produce a particularly fine ale.