Whilst I was in Burton upon Trent last week, I got first glance of the new branding and advertising campaign for Marston’s Pedigree. Marston’s have very cleverly used people scouted from the streets of Burton to use in the adverts because as the director of the campaign says in the press blurb,“It’s in the blood; in the water. If you’re going to live, grow and die in this town you’re going to be connected to brewing in some way. You can sense it as soon as you get off the train.”
The Oxford Companion to Beer (yes, there is such a book, put it on your Christmas list), has several pages devoted to Burton-upon-Trent, and how this small town north of Birmingham became known as the brewing capital of Britain during the 19th century. Brewing in the town can be traced back to 1004 and is mainly attributed to the ‘special’ water, which is extremely hard, full of sulfates and perfect for brewing pale ales. This is a town which is built on beer, especially my old friend Pedigree. I’m in Burton virtually every week; my other half thinks I’ve got another fella there and he’s right in a way. The Marston’s brewery on Shobnall Road proudly displays its rows of oak casks through huge viewing windows; this is the legendary Burton Union System, and I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. This fermenting apparatus adorns Marstons’s ales with a distinctive fruity dryness and brings out the famous sulphury “Burton Snatch” aroma (stop giggling at the back).
Pedigree is a keeper. It’s been around since 1952, and it’s one of the best selling ales in the UK for good reason. It’s not too hoppy, it’s not too bitter, it’s full of flavour, and it’s a great beer to order any day of the week in a pub whilst putting the world to rights with your mates. It just delivers what a great beer should: malt, fruit, dryness, drink-ability and sociability. What’s more, it’s incredibly versatile with food. It has no problems with pub staples such as steak pie, sausage and mash, burgers and curries. It’s a comfort beer, one to keep going back to when you need a reliable old friend.