Sunday 6 April 2014

Charrington's Burton Brewery (part two)

We're going to take a look inside Charrington's Burton Brewery today.

First the brewery yard:
"Entering the brewery yard, through a noble gateway, we had on one side of us the porters' lodge, and on the other the general offices. Confronting us was the lofty brewhouse adjoining the fermenting rooms, the whole forming a range of buildings, which, by reason of the various roofs being broken up into different heights—surmounted by tall chimney stacks—present a strikingly picturesque appearance.

At the bottom of the long yard, there is a loading-out platform, abutting on to the railway track, and to the left of the enclosure is to be seen one of the engine and boiler houses. Next to them appears an important block of buildings, in which is contained hop and malt stores, a fermenting room, ale stores, and cellars. Farther on, and still more to the left, is the cask-washing yard and adjacent cooperages, and, finally, the offices, comprised in a neat two-storeyed building, which have a frontage in Abbey Street."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 328.
It sounds very pretty, but was it practical? I'd expect a pretty much brand new brewery to be more rationally organised.

I'm going to skip most of the bits about the maltings. Descriptions of malting equipment don't thrill me the same way brewing equipment does. I'm only including the parts about ale stores and cask banks.

"The entire basement of the No. 2. malt house, and subsidiary buildings, is utilized for ale stores, as also is that on the No. 1 malt store. Some idea of the capacity of these extensive cellars may be imagined when we state that they will hold nearly 4,000 barrels of beer.

From the yard the ale stores are reached by some stone steps, leading down to a wide corridor, in which is placed a ponderous barrel-lifting machine worked by steam power. We found this cellar like the No. 1, afterwards visited, well-ventilated and drained, also well-lighted by means of sunken windows in the area.

We were much struck with the size and extent of the cask-banks, covered by many thousands of barrels of beer, stacked up in neat rows, encircled and intersected as it is by several railway tracks. In the centre of the large open space there is a circular detached office of handsome appearance for the use of Mr. Matthews, the foreman of the department, and the loading-out clerks. This office is in direct communication, by telephone, with the brewhouse and public offices in Abbey Street The engine shed and turnstile (for the firm's own powerful locomotive) arc situated on these premises, and within the enclosure arc to be found mess rooms for the storekeepers and maltmen, and houses for general stores. There areas many as sixty men and foremen employed the stores and makings, and most of them are members of the sick club, which is managed by themselves and is entirely self-supporting."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 330.

I can remember when I used to go past Tetley's on the bus they had a yard piled up with casks. Thousands of the things. It was an impressive sight. Though they were empty casks. The ones here were full, following that quaint Burton practice of leaving Pale Ale out in the yard for months on end.


Ed said...

The first draught IPA I ever drank was Charrington's. It was brown, sweet and 3.9% ABV.

Anonymous said...

Why did Burton brewers leave full casks outside?

Couldn't they just build a giant cellar? Certainly Bass wasn't short of cash.

Ron Pattinson said...


it was deliberate. They were toughening the beer up. They reckoned after a year in the brewery yard a beer was pretty much resistant to changes in temperature.