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Talking of beer...

Marc | 12:18 UK time, Friday, 27 June 2008

Michael Buchanan will report for PM today from a museum devoted to the history of brewing and beer, ahead of its closure on Monday.

Michael writes...

In this era of concern over alcohol misuse, it's often overlooked that Britain has a very proud brewing heritage. Ales from these shores have been quenching thirsts for centuries and nowhere is more associated with that tradition that Burton-on-Trent. But a gem of a museum in the town devoted to brewing (with a strong emphasis, it's fair to say, on the Bass brewery) is to close at the end of the month.

The museum gives visitors a thorough understanding of the brewing process


and how it developed as well as containing archives going back to the 1740s.

These labels


are all rip-offs of the famous red Bass triangle which brewers across the world produced in an attempt to be associated with the good name of the Bass ales.

The museum also gives an insight into how pubs in Britain developed.


The reason for the closure is falling visitor numbers but supporters such as Adrian Wedgewood are engaged in an enthusiastic campaign to keep the collection together and re-open the place as a national brewing museum.


He says that an important part of Britain's industrial heritage is in danger of being lost, and is looking for benefactors to come forward with the more than £300,000 per annum they reckon they'll need to keep the museum open. The owners of the museum have given them until the end of the year to put together a rescue package. If this was a collection of artwork, says Adrian, there would undoubtedly be a national campaign to keep it.


  • 1. At 12:48pm on 27 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    What do Brits have against refrigerators, especially when it comes to beer and ale? Make mine a tall cold one...if that's possible.

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  • 2. At 12:52pm on 27 Jun 2008, DI_Wyman wrote:

    a sad business indeed!

    the idea to make it a National museum of brewing is a good one, and maybe incorporate a 'micro' brewery at the same site selling their own wares?

    MAII, don't let CAMRA hear you saying that!

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  • 3. At 1:17pm on 27 Jun 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    Having visited the national Genever Museum in Belgium. I'm all for museums that maintain heritage.

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  • 4. At 1:32pm on 27 Jun 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Perhaps the Museum could be relocated? The fall in numbers may be associated with Burton on Trent not being a 'tourist' area. It could travel down the road to Lichfield, for example. Not sure how Gillianianian might feel about that, though ;o)

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  • 5. At 3:02pm on 27 Jun 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Big Sis -Burton has much to commend it, and you also get the smell of the working breweries, which is something Lichfield couldn't replicate!
    I didn't know the museum was going to be closed. I'd better hie me thither! ;o)
    As to relocating it here....the only land it could have been on is soon to be a brand-spanking-new shopping centre, just like every other town's shopping centre ;o(
    Still I suppose it will cut down our carbon footprint if we locals can walk to ''Debenext'' and such places.

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  • 6. At 3:06pm on 27 Jun 2008, patmartin wrote:

    I've visited the museum on several occasions and will miss it. It provided one of the best pints of Bass to be had anywhere (and so it should). It also did good children's parties. The village of Triangle, near Halifax, is said to be named after the Bass trade mark. Can anyone confirm or deny this?
    Cheers, Pat

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  • 7. At 3:09pm on 27 Jun 2008, Nigel_N wrote:

    A perenial problem for private museums is how to get the visitor to be prepared to pay. I would say that the National Assembly should take it over (Wales has done it with a mining museum), but for some reason the good folk of England don't have their own Assembly to look after them.

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  • 8. At 3:11pm on 27 Jun 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A Homer Simpson sort of remark would be appropriate - "Ah, Beer! ...."

    We should also be reminded that a significant amount CO2 is a by-product of all brewing processes.....not to mention methane as a result of consumption, ...


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  • 9. At 3:28pm on 27 Jun 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    Leeds had Brewery Wharfe attached to tetleys. That shut years back.(it had a short life as a museum/visitor centre experience) Perhaps we just don't care about our brewing heritage.

    Mines a pint please.

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  • 10. At 4:03pm on 27 Jun 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    Ed I (8) - Let's be thankful that cows don't drink that much beer.

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  • 11. At 4:40pm on 27 Jun 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Hm, Gillianianian, I still think the museum would do better if it relocated. I wouldn't want to make a trip to Burton on Trent just for the museum, but I would combine it with a trip to Lichfield, its cathedral, and its lovely frogger ;o)

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  • 12. At 4:45pm on 27 Jun 2008, Deepthought wrote:

    Stewart M (9)

    In more ways than one. Consider how the smaller breweries are being swallowed up - I won't generate a list, but a green monarch is behind many of those. Henley (as it's in the news) lost it's brewery - the company now uses a contract brewery for its products. I'd say CAMRA still has a big fight on its hands, as all the medium sized breweries are going.

    It's not just the brewery museums, but the breweries and their brews.

    Did you know the University of Birmingham used to have a professor of brewery? Oddly enough, as it was built on Quaker land.

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  • 13. At 4:47pm on 27 Jun 2008, Deepthought wrote:

    Correcting myself - U of B - *some* of it is on Quaker land.

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  • 14. At 5:15pm on 27 Jun 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    DT there are a few new small breweries up here in yorkshire. There is still some diversity about.

    Saltaire was a "Dry" village.

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  • 15. At 5:28pm on 27 Jun 2008, patmartin wrote:

    Saltaire was a dry village but Weherspoons named their bradford pub after Titus Salt. Reckon he's done a bit of grave turning

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  • 16. At 8:33pm on 27 Jun 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    The Titus Salt is not in Saltaire. The pub in the borders of Saltaire is Fanny's Lovely little Real ale pub and I believe where Jon Peels wife once lived there (before it was a pub)

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  • 17. At 8:34pm on 27 Jun 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    That's poor english. and i;ve not had that pint yet!

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  • 18. At 8:55pm on 27 Jun 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Big Sister(11) It's so easy to do Lichfield and Burton in one visit - there's only about 12 miles of the A38 between them - and I'd offer to do the driving ;o)

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  • 19. At 9:35pm on 27 Jun 2008, Deepthought wrote:

    Stewart M,

    There's still some mirco-brewery diversity about in the soft South. Some are even sold in the supermarket where I shop - OK, it is W**tr*s*.

    Personally speaking, I take these on a case by case (bit of a freudian slip, that) basis, since some [notably a Guildford based brewer] give me a hangover after one bottle, while others I could get plastered on and be fine the next morning. But that's also true of the big breweries, I can never drink in a "C*urag* pub (when forced to) without a hang-over.

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  • 20. At 10:48pm on 27 Jun 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Gillianianian: I didn't think you'd taken the Pledge, but now I'm beginning to wonder. You clearly don't want the Brewing Museum in Lichfield ..... !

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  • 21. At 2:07pm on 28 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:


    Anyone who would eat beef boiled until it's grey and greasy fish and chips out of rolled up newspaper where the ink gets all over the food would drink warm beer. It doesn't surprise me at all. Is toad in the hole made with real toads? At its current price, is a banger a good bang for the buck? I have to give those 400,000 French Yuppies credit for going to Britain just to get a decent job and earn some money. I'll bet they haul millions of pounds er, I mean kilograms of food back with them every year in small packages after a visit home. When I think of British food, I think of those two big fat ladies who used to be on TV and that other pruveyer of gruel Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet. Gourmet indeed.

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  • 22. At 5:40pm on 28 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    it is sad that the museum promoting beer and its cultural affects will be closing.

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  • 23. At 9:13pm on 28 Jun 2008, RJMolesworth wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII (21)

    The reason for cooling beer below 10 degrees C is to disguise how disgusting it tastes.

    The Belgians drink theirs between 10 -13 degrees C but what does a nation famouns for waffles, chocolate know about anything.

    patmartin 6

    If it serves Bass no wonder it is going to close. Now there is a beer that needs to be served ice cold. Probably the worst beer ever brewed. I would rather drink lager, that`s how bad it is.

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  • 24. At 01:07am on 29 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Around 1990 I started drinking Sam Adams beer and I've never tasted one I've liked as much. If I liked beer warm, this would still be good but I think it's much better cold. That's how we mostly all like our beer here on my side of the pond. I was in California a while back and they had some local beers and some Irish beers in the restaurants we went to. No Sam. Very disappointing, didn't care for them at all. I think Sam Adams is made in a German style.

    The Belgians make Limbic beer. Different and interesting. Kind of a cross between beer and fruit wine. Not cheap either.

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  • 25. At 08:27am on 29 Jun 2008, RJMolesworth wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII 24

    Sam Smiths is a clasisic tasting English beer and, if you like that, there are several others you would also like that you won't be able to get in California, Robinsons and Badger to name just two.

    There are some great micro breweries in North America and if you buy their beer in a bottle you can drink it at the temperature that suits you. But they all have one fault with their draft beer. They carbonate it. They go to all the trouble of making it taste good and then serve it cold and carbonated so that you lose half the flavour.

    The Belgians (with their liking for chocolate and waffles) do make fruit beers but they are more famous for their trappist monastery beers which range from light and strong to dark and very strong (9%). Closer to Bavarian beer but, IMHO, better.

    You should be able to find some in California. Look for the words Trappist, Trappiste or Trappistes on the label and the word Triple if you like your beer strong and full bodied or Double for something less so.

    Keep it in the fridge by all means but let it stand for a while so that it is cool rather than cold before drinking it.


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  • 26. At 2:18pm on 29 Jun 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:


    I like the German style beers that Sam Adams seems to produce so well. Don't know if Sam Smith's is imported into the US. In California, I tasted some locally brewed beer. Blue Moon was one of them. I didn't care for it. Nor for the Irish beers I tasted in an Irish pub. Even Dos Equis in a Tex-Mex restaurant didn't thrill me. It was just OK.

    When I lived in France many years ago, I used to drink Belgian beer and enjoyed it. I don't know if I still would. Taste preferences change. At least mine have.

    Fortunately for me, in NJ we can get Sam Adams just about anywhere. I haven't decided between the Boston Lager, my favorite and the Boston ale, I think a close second for me. Perhaps I'll try some imported German Weissbeer with a wedge of lemon one of these days. I used to like that, I drank it in a German restaurant all the time many years ago.

    I don't like "lite" beer. And I also don't like the most popular American beers Budweiser, Miller, or Coors. To me they all taste like diluted cat pea. Don't particularly care for Heinekin anymore either and never liked Amstel lite. Used to like Lowenbrau very much but it's made under license by Miller in the US and is not the same as it was 40 years ago. Became inferior. Becks is pretty good.

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  • 27. At 11:24am on 30 Jun 2008, Fearless Fred wrote:

    MAII I too find Sam Adams a reasonably nice drink when I've been in the US. It's still not a patch on the Porter that they sell in the Lowell Exchange brewery, though :-)

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