Meet the Family
Some beers stand the test of time. Others, are ahead of their time. And a rare few, even define their times. We’ve been fortunate (and occasionally, unfortunate enough) to brew all three at some point down the years. And now, they’re all yours.
THE PALE ALE WHICH MADE OUR NAME
Our Allsopp’s forbears dedicated themselves to perfecting this balanced, golden-hued, enduringly drinkable Pale Ale. And perfect it they did. We’re happy to share this crisp, sessionable and refreshing contemporary take on our classic.ABV4.4%MaltMaris Otter, Extra Pale, ChevallierHopsAurora, Cascade
Allsopp’s Pale Ale was our first beer, and we are proud to bring such a historic beer ale to life. It all started with Benjamin Wilson Senior, Samuel Allsopp’s Grandfather.
On 12 January 1742 Benjamin Wilson purchased the Blue Stoops Inn and brewhouse on the east side of High Street in Burton upon Trent from his brother-in-law for £164. Benjamin Wilson’s Senior’s strong Burton beer was a favourite of the Russian Court in the 1760s. Eyewitness accounts of an Imperial banquet thrown by Tsar Peter and Empress Catherine describe how “bumpers” of Wilson’s beer were drunk at lavish dinners.
The business changed hands; Benjamin Wilson was succeeded by his son, confusingly called Benjamin Wilson. He was an excellent brewer and an astute businessman. Benjamin Junior expanded the capacity of the Blue Stoops Inn during 1790 to take account of the increased Baltic trade. The beer made a perilous 150-mile trip from Burton to Hull by canal and river onto St Petersburg.
James Allsopp (1751-1800) married Anne Wilson in 1778, the only daughter of Benjamin Wilson (Snr); they had a son named Samuel. Samuel Allsopp (1780-1838) joined the business in 1800 and subsequently bought it from Benjamin Wilson (Jnr) in 1807. He renamed the brewery to Wilson & Allsopp, but the outlook for Baltic exports deteriorated dramatically due to Napoleon’s continued blockade of British goods. Samuel’s brother Thomas who was studying the Baltic trade in Hamburg and furthering the interests of the house at this time, was urged to flee the city immediately. However, before he fled, he spent some time with Marshal Blucher (of Waterloo fame), who expressed his admiration for Wilson & Allsopp’s “bonne bière.”
The years between 1806 and 1814 were very slow for sales, and the business entered the doldrums. However, through Samuel’s endeavours, he increased national sales and brewed beers to satisfy tastes according to the region.
THE INDIA PALE ALE WE MADE OUR OWN
India Pale Ale
Samuel Allsopp was the first to perfect Burton-brewed India Pale Ale. Some 200 years later, Allsopp & Sons invite you to savour this faithful recreation of the complex, beguiling, original Burton IPA.ABV5.6%MaltMaris Otter, ChevallierHopsBramling Cross, Fuggles, Challenger
When Samuel Allsopp sent his first casks of India Pale Ale to Calcutta in 1823, the brewing industry in Burton upon Trent was in a dreadful state. The turning point for Allsopp came in 1822 when he was invited to go to London and dine with a gentleman called Mr Marjoribanks (pronounced Marchbanks), who represented the powerful East India Company. They had been experiencing trouble with Hodgson; he had been making attempts to set up his own Agency in India to cut out the East India Company. Marjoribanks was looking for another source of India Pale Ale and where better a place to look than Burton upon Trent, the home of both the expertise to produce it and of a number of breweries standing idle.
The story goes that Mr Majoribanks produced some of Hodgson’s Pale Ale after dinner and invited Allsopp to attempt to copy it. Allsopp’s first reaction was to say he’d never heard of it, but following a tasting, he exclaimed, “Is this the Indian beer? I can brew it.” To which Marjoribanks replied, “If you can, it will be a fortune to you.” Allsopp went back to Burton and took receipt of bottles of Hodgson’s ale; he then asked an employee called Job Goodhead, in some versions, he was the Head Brewer in others the Head Maltster, for assistance, and then Allsopp brewed his Pale Ale in a teapot.
Following the possibly apocryphal teapot brew, Allsopp ramped up production in October 1822 and, the following year sent 45 barrels to India. A long and bitter price war ensued with Hodgson, but by the early 1830s Burton brewed India Pale Ale had become dominant as the most popular ale export to India; note the word Burton instead of Allsopp, like Bass, Salt and Worthington had also moved in on the market. It turned out that the Burton version of India Pale Ale was superior to that brewed in London due to an accident of geology.
Under the town sits vast beds of gypsum through which all brewing water had percolated. This gave Burton India Pale Ales a crystal-clear quality that the London version just could not match. It was this unique mineral content of the water that would see Burton grow from an output of 50,000 barrels in 1831 to 3,500,000 in 1900, earning the town the title of The Brewing Capital of the World.
THE LAGER THAT FINISHED US
In the 1880s, Samuel Allsopp & Sons was one of the first British brewing companies to attempt to master the noble German art of lager beer. We were rather too ahead of our time. Until now. Second time’s a charm. Coming soon.
During the late 1890s, Percy Allsopp was appointed Chairman of Samuel Allsopp & Sons. In an attempt to turn around the fortunes of the company, which was in trouble due to overcapacity, he created vast lager capacity.
He travelled through Germany and the United States learning about lager brewing and bought the latest and most expensive (very Percy) kit from a supplier in New York. The shiny new brewery could brew 60,000 barrels a year, “sufficient lager beer to supply almost the whole of the country”, and claimed to mature the lager in a quarter of the time of traditional methods in Germany.
This brewery was 50% of the capacity of the entire UK lager brewing sector 40 years later at the 1936 consensus. It brewed both Pilsner and Bavarian-style beers but failed to restore Samuel Allsopp & Sons fortunes.
Percy resigned, the company fell into receivership, but the Allsopp’s lager story was far from over.
In 1920 the vast lager brewing kit was transferred to Alloa Brewery in Scotland, which Allsopp’s went onto acquire, and the beer was renamed Graham’s Golden Lager. In 1959, it was shortened to Skol, and it became the leading lager for Ind Coope and then Allied Breweries. In the 1960s, Skol was indeed an international lager brewed in 20 countries and one of the most popular beers in Brazil, selling more than 9 billion bottles a year.