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The National Brewery Centre

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published October 22nd 2015
Everything You Wanted To Know About Brewing And Then Some
If you've ever wanted to know more about the history of what goes into your pint of beer, then a visit to The National Brewery Centre in Staffordshire is a must.

And don't worry about possibly being left 'dry' after your visit, for this is one museum that believes so much in its product it actually lets you sample its wares.

National Brewery Centre, Burton upon Trent
Which of these ales have you sampled?

Brewing has apparently been taking place in Burton upon Trent for a thousand years, ever since local monks began the clearly therapeutic practice in the 11th century.

But the Staffordshire town really built up its status as the UK's main commercial brewing centre from the 18th century, largely due to the quality of the local water which proved to be ideal for the brewing of pale ale, the beer for which Burton is famed.

National Brewery Centre
The start of your tour at The National Brewery Centre

The town's brewing industry also benefitted from its transport links, notably the completion of the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1777, followed by the opening of the railway in 1839. No wonder that William Bass, then in the transport business, decided to buy a small brewery in 1777, the same year that the canal opened.

As a result, Burton was producing twice as much beer as London in 1888.

The National Brewery Centre is recognised as the UK's number one beer attraction and receives around 220,000 visitors a year.

The National Brewery Centre
Learn about the brewing process step by step

It also has a long tradition of royal visitors, with King Edward Vlll having mashed the King's Ale in 1902, followed by the then Prince of Wales in 1929, and more recently, Her Majesty the Queen who mashed the Queen's Ale during her visit in July 2002.

Visitors today can stroll around the Grade ll listed Victorian buildings and discover how the brewing of beer began and flourished over the years, as well as learn more about the vitally important Bass family.

The National Brewery Centre
More of the essential beer-making information on display

You can either take a guided tour around the site to learn all about the history of brewing and the various steps of the beer-making process, or you can wander around yourself and explore the machinery on display with the help of written, audio or even visual presentations.

Elsewhere on the site, you can visit the huge Robey Steam Engine, built as one of a pair in 1905 to power a range of eight malthouses built by Bass in Lincolnshire, plus the Bass Number 9 locomotive built in 1901.

The National Brewery Centre
Some of the horse-drawn carts in the Bass Shire Horse Stables

And you can also view a range of vintage vehicles, both mechanical and horse-drawn, used in the transportation of beer, as well as visit the Bass Shire Horse Stables, complete with shire horses, which opened in 1982.

The National Brewery Centre
Take a look at the vintage vehicles which used to transport beer barrels

On the other side of the main courtyard, the William Worthington's Brewery Museum houses numerous displays over three floors, some of which depict the roles of various workers from the coopers who made the beer barrels to the chief engineer.

The National Brewery Centre
The Chief Engineer - one of several key figures depicted in the museum

You can also visit a huge pump room and pop in to the recreated Edwardian Bar which depicts several of the pub games of the day, such as bar skittles.

The National Brewery Centre
A recreation of an Edwardian bar

But the final stop of your tour, unless you choose to go back via the extensive gift shop, is the Brewery Tap Bar & Restaurant, if for no other reason than to 'spend' the drink vouchers you were given on arrival, equivalent to a pint of beer or three 'tasters'.

The National Brewery Centre, The Brewery Tap
The Brewery Tap Bar & Restaurant

Beer lovers will enjoy the fact that The National Brewery is open every day of the year except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with free parking on site.

For more information about the centre and to find out about forthcoming events, please visit
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Why? Learn All About The History Of Brewing Beer
When: All year
Phone: 01283 532880
Where: Horninglow Street, Burton upon Trent DE14 1NG
Cost: Adults £8.95, OAP/concessions £7.95, Children (3-16) £4.95
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