"Is this the Indian Beer?" - Part Two
Why did Mr. Marjoribanks approach Samuel Allsopp and not the other Burton brewers at the time: Bass, Worthington, Salt, or Sherratt? Perhaps he’d heard of Allsopp’s 1808 Pale Ale experiment?
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.
"It turned out that the Burton version of India Pale Ale was superior to that brewed in London due to an accident of geology."
This story first saw the light of day in 1853 in J.S. Bushnan’s “Burton And Its Bitter Beer”, by which time Samuel Allsopp was dead, so the most likely source for the tale was Job Goodhead. There’s no doubt that it is a classic yarn, but it raises a few questions; it is unthinkable that a brewer of Allsopp’s standing hadn’t heard of the Indian trade and why did he brew in a teapot and not his Brewery?
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, as 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.