The History of Percy's Pilsner
Burton upon Trent may have been built on the success of India Pale Ale and it has been home to over 100 breweries in the last 300 years, but the town’s brewing industry has mirrored the change in beer drinking habits over the last 60 years and is now more famous for lager. The largest of Burton’s seven remaining breweries is Molson Coors who brew Carling, the country’s biggest selling lager. So where does Allsopp’s Lager fit into the Burton story?
Allsopp’s Lager Brewery was the first of its kind in Burton and proved to be Percy’s folly, he resigned as Chairman a mere five months after the start of production and Allsopp’s Lager failed to catch on despite the best efforts of his brother George Higginson Allsopp who succeeded him. However, when George died in 1907 the Allsopp family lost control of their company.
Percy was vilified and his tenure was reported in the press as “How a million was lost”, but with hindsight he was a visionary. His lager plant was relocated to Archibold Arrol’s in Alloa in the 1920’s and was put to work producing Arrol’s Lager, Calder’s Lager and, in 1927, Graham’s Golden Lager.
"His tenure was reported in the press as “How a million was lost”, but with hindsight he was a visionary"
Graham’s Golden Lager later became Graham’s Skol and finally in 1959 just Skol. By the early 1970’s Skol was one of Britain’s best-selling lagers and production was moved to Burton at Allied Breweries, which through a series of mergers and name changes was all that remained of Samuel Allsopp and Sons Limited.
Percy may not have been a great businessman but he knew a good idea when he had one, even if it took the country 60 years to catch up.