The beer travels 50 yards from brewery to pub tap at the Burton Bridge Inn in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire.
Burton upon Trent, once synonymous with British brewing, is dominated by what
look like huge chemical plants that manufacture mass-produced lager. Our
indigenous draught beers, meanwhile, are increasingly presented as quaint
survivors of an antiquated craft like mead making, to be demonstrated in
brewing museums while global corporations spread their bland beers around
So where does a man go to find a watering hole that bucks the trend? He seeks
sanctuary in the Burton Bridge Inn, the “tap” for the independent
brewery of the same name.
The pub is an ideal showcase for the Burton beers that emerge from the back of
a building that in parts is more than three centuries old. The skittle alley
upstairs is lit by gas lamps, heated by roaring fires and imbued with a
heady aroma of hops. Downstairs, the “Smoke Room” has a fine
wooden floor, a black-leaded stove and walls that harbour nicotine shades
from the days when smoking was allowed.
“This reminds me of the Dublin pubs I grew up in,” says a softly
spoken Irishman at the bar. “Civilised conversation with no background
music.” No Guinness, either, by the look of it. “But there’s
draught porter,” he points out. And it’s impeccably kept, like the
draught bitters. They’ve travelled all of 50 yards from where they were
brewed. At 4.2 per cent alcohol, Bridge Bitter is a fine example of a
medium-strength Burton ale. Golden Delicious is slightly weaker, but aptly
The nearest thing to a local delicacy on the lunchtime menu is Staffordshire
oatcake stuffed with melted cheese. It has the look and texture of a pancake
crossed with chamois leather. Not easy to swallow. “You really need
something moist with it,” advises a kindly woman sitting with her
husband near the open fire in the main bar. “Tomatoes, perhaps, or a
runny egg.” In the absence of either, the best option would appear to
be an English beer that shares its name with a French apple. One more Golden
Delicious should do the trick.
- Burton Bridge Inn, 24 Bridge Street, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire