Wednesday, 6 July 2016

National Brewery Centre and the William Worthington Brewery visit

I organised a visit to the National Brewery Centre and the William Worthington Brewery for the Brewery History Society on Friday. We got shown the archives and I think it's fair to say that they have extensive files.

There wasn't time to go into full geek mode but they have five rooms of stuff so there's a lot of nerdery potential.

We walked through part of the museum to get to the breweries and I had the privilege of having people who'd worked with Burton unions explain to me how they operated. The beer would spend 36 hours in squares before going to the unions for 72 hours. The CO2 produced would force yeast and beer out of the swan necks and into the trough at the top. Beer would then run back into the 150 gallon barrels and when fermentation was finished the beer would be drawn for the bottom of the barrels. Bass had 60 sets in a union room, comprising of 1560 barrels.

Then we saw the old five barrel brewery that came from Cape Hill.

It's made of  copper and clad with teak. It's not in use at the moment.

But happily the new 22.5 bbl brewery is. It was closed by Molson Coors for two years, supposedly for health and safety reason but no one believed a word of that. Here's the racking area:

 And here's the Head Brewer Steve Wellington talking to us from the brewhouse.

They're not currently making White Shield, but I did get to learn that the sticky yeast currently used for bottle conditioning originally came from Charrington's. And speaking of Charrington's they've revived Charrington IPA. This was the first IPA I ever drank and it was 3.9%, brown and sweet. The new version is based on an older recipe and is stronger and much more bitter. It was really good too, unlike the version I drank all those years ago.

If you see it in the wild, don't miss out.


  1. We got a chance to try the Charrington's IPA in Birmingham and were pretty impressed. It's of a type we think of as Protz-Dorberian, i.e. like the stuff they were obsessed with reviving in the 1990s, English hops, but lots of 'em.

    The archive looks amazing. Wish it was a bit handier for Penzance.

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  3. I always felt that the IPA, brewed at Charrington’s original brewery, in Mile End, East London, was vastly superior to the version brewed at the M&B Cape Hill plant in Birmingham. Brewing moved there, sometime in the mid-1970’s, when the Bass Charrington management decided to close Mile End.

    I shall look out for the revived version, as it sounds much more like the original.

  4. I have brewed with the White Shield bottling yeast. It's a nice yeast but it produces an extremely dry beer.