The Early Days
Centuries before the Allsopp’s Brewery at Burton-on-Trent was thought of, the ales of Burton had already developed a reputation for excellent beer. The monks of Burton Abbey started brewing in 1295 and were the town’s chief brewers throughout the Middle Ages. Travellers crossing the great bridge over the Trent would stop for refreshment at the Abbey and carry with them tales of the sparkling ales brewed from the waters of St Mowden’s holy well, strengthening their belief that beer is God’s way of showing us that he loves us.
The direct family history of Allsopp’s beer started with Benjamin Wilson (Snr). He started brewing in 1730 and purchased the Blue Stoops Inn Brewery in Burton in 1742, a “brewery that was so old that no one ever heard of its having a beginning. The very land it stood upon was freehold, and that made it out to be older than the Abbey.”
"beer is God’s way of showing us that he loves us."
Wilson’s Snr’s strong Burton beer was a favourite of the Russian Court in the mid-1700s; eyewitness accounts of an Imperial banquet thrown by Tsar Peter and Empress Catherine describes how “bumpers” of Wilson’s beer were drunk at lavish dinners.
His son, Benjamin Wilson (Jnr), took over the Blue Stoops Inn in 1774. He was an excellent brewer and an astute businessman. He 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.