Breweries

Fat Badgers Guide to Good Pubs and Inns in the UK Brewery Links

Mitchells & Butlers Springfield Brewery, Wolverhampton.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.

Mitchells & Butlers Springfield Brewery, Wolverhampton.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.

Mitchells & Butlers Springfield Brewery, Wolverhampton.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.

Gypsum deposits in the area make the local well water high in calcium sulphate, which is particularly good for the production of beer. The earliest-known reference to Burton ale was in 1295, it was noted in London in 1630, and commercial production began in the mid-18th century. The history of brewing in Burton is illustrated at the Bass Museum. Marmite was first produced in 1902.

The town expanded rapidly following the opening of the Midland Railway in 1839. A number of Burton's public buildings, including the town hall (1894), were presented to the town by Michael Bass (1799-1884), who became Lord Burton.

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.

Guinness
Guinness PintIrish brewing family who produced the dark, creamy stout of the same name. In 1752 Arthur Guinness (1725-1803) inherited 100 and used it to set up a brewery in Leixlip, County Kildare, which was moved to Dublin 1759. The business grew under his son Arthur (1767-1855) and under Arthur's son Benjamin (1798-1868), who developed an export market in the USA and Europe.

In the 1980s, the family interest in the business declined to no more than 5 % as the company expanded by taking over large and established firms such as Bells in 1985 and Distillers in 1986.

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.
The brewery founded by Richard Marsh was quite substantial and far removed from the innkeepers of the town who brewed on their premises. In 1741 the brewery was acquired by Samuel Shepherd, a member of a prominent land owning family and already active for some years in Faversham as a maltster. With a growing population to serve, Faversham was becoming an increasingly important brewing town when Samuel Shepherd was joined in the business by his sons Julius and John. It was at this stage that the family began buying pubs, several of which are still owned by the company today.
As various partners joined the firm, so the name changed to Shepherd & Hilton, Shepherd & Mares and, finally, when John Mares died and 28-year-old Percy Beale Neame joined the partnership in 1864, Shepherd Neame.