CMBC To “Retire” Burton-On-Trent Brewery Union Sets

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has announced that it is to retire the four remaining union sets at Marston’s Burton-on-Trent brewery.

The company says the process is now longer viable because of a drop in cask volumes. Two of the sets will remain at the brewery as a piece of brewing heritage.

The sets have always been made using traditional wooden barrel fermentation, known as the Burton Union brewing system, and t dates back to the Victorian era.

Four casks currently used in Burton upon Trent to make Pedigree will be replaced with new metal containers.

The brewing company said it plans to preserve two of the old casks for brewing heritage purposes, but they will no longer be used to make beer.

“We take great pride in the quality of our brews, and by moving cask Pedigree to stainless steel fermenters we will be able to deliver consistent strong quality for our customers and consumers going forward,” said director of brewing, Emma Gilleland.

“We are committed to protecting the legacy of the union sets, both for the brewery and for Burton. We will invest in preserving two union sets which will remain at the brewery so they can continue to be part of its future as enduring, iconic symbols of British brewing.

CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: “It’s obviously hugely disappointing that CMBC has taken the decision to retire its iconic Burton Unions. It is arguably the last brewery in the world, and certainly in the UK, using this method** to brew beer and this decision will see a unique and historic part of Britain’s brewing heritage declared completely extinct.

“We’d urge CMBC to find some way to preserve these historic pieces of brewing equipment rather than simply scrap them, or make the Union Sets available to another brewery which might be interested in preserving this tradition.

“We do understand the need for breweries to remain efficient and ensure quality at a time when we are sadly seeing many closures. CAMRA is reassured that this news is tempered by the fact CMBC has invested a significant sum, worth several millions, in the site, which hopefully will secure continued brewing and support the cask ales which have long been brewed in Burton-on-Trent.”