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Burton Ale hits the comeback trail

Added: Friday, February 6th 2015

Burton Bridge

Draught Burton Ale, the beer axed by Carlsberg, will make a swift return to its home town, brewed by two brewers who helped produce the beer back in the 1970s. Bruce Wilkinson and Geoff Mumford (pictured), who run the Burton Bridge Brewery, worked for Ind Coope in both Burton and Romford and helped to formulate the recipe for DBA, which was based on Double Diamond Export.

Carlsberg announced in January that it was ending production of the beer – the only ale produced by a national brewer to be named Champion Beer of Britain by CAMRA – as volumes were so low they were “unsustainable”. Critics accused Carlsberg of not promoting the beer, which since Ind Coope stopped brewing in Burton had been moved to Tetley in Leeds and finally to JW Lees in Manchester.

Geoff and Bruce will brew a batch of Draught Burton Ale on 4 March and it will be available at the Burton beer festival that opens on 26 March. The beer is being brewed in liaison with the local branch of CAMRA and Nik Antona, a member of the campaign’s National Executive who lives in Burton, will be present when the beer is brewed.

The beer will be 4.8% and will be based as near as possible on the original recipe. Following the CAMRA beer festival, it will be available for pubs in April. If sales are strong, Burton Bridge will consider producing it as an occasional beer.

 At Ind Coope, the beer was brewed with pale and chocolate malts, liquid sugar, unnamed English hops and dry hopped with Styrian Goldings. Geoff and Bruce won’t say which English hops they will use but have confirmed it will be dry hopped with Styrians. Dry hopping means adding additional hops to casks before the beer leaves the brewery and gives added aroma, flavour and bitterness to each batch.

“As it’s dry hopped, we will look for pubs with a high turnover of beer, as ideally it should be sold within four days of tapping,” Steve Harris at Burton Bridge said. “Quality will deteriorate if it remains on stillage for any longer.”

While the beer will be similar to the original brew, branding will be different to avoid any conflict with Carlsberg, though legal experts believe that a beer called Burton Ale can’t be branded as it’s a generic term.

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths has been in talks with Carlsberg since the group announced it would stop producing DBA. The MP has asked Carlsberg to release the name and allow a Burton brewer to produce the beer.

Commenting on the Burton Bridge initiative, Andrew Griffiths said: "DBA isn't just an important part of Burton's brewing past, it's part of Britain's brewing history. I hope we can preserve it for beer drinkers of the future and ensuring it is brewed in Burton would be so significant in that."

*Below, Burton Bridge's design for the beer. The thumbs-up sign is a tongue-in-cheek reminder of the old Allied Breweries Red Hand logo.