In the 19th century, Burton-upon-Trent was the world’s greatest brewing city, built on the town’s hard waters and exceptional pale, bitter ales.
Fast forward to the present day and the legendary Burton brewers of old, such as Bass, Allsopp’s, and Ind Coope, have all gone, leaving only Marston’s as the remaining link to the city’s past (you can visit Marston’s, see opposite). Yet in many ways Burton is still a great brewing city, as the skyscape is conquered by the huge Carling and Coors facilities right in the center of the town.
Visit Burton-Upon-Trent And Drink Draught Bass In The Coopers Tavern Photo Gallery
In the shadows of those mega-facilities, beer is deep-set in Burton’s footprint: in the names of the streets and the shopping center (Cooper’s Square), in the huge old buildings that would’ve once dominated the town, and in the many old pubs (both open and closed). There’s also the National Brewery Centre and museum, and a few new small brewers. These all make Burton a place worth visiting, even if just to imagine what it might have been like in the late 19th century.
My favorite pub in Burton is the Coopers Tavern. To drink here is to step back to a time when Burton was at its best. There’s a quiet space to the left as you enter, complete with a fireplace, while to the right, in the main bar, it feels more like a lived-in lounge with old photographs on the walls—a snapshot reminder of beer’s unique place in this town’s history. Keep heading through and you’ll come to one of the most unusual serving areas in any pub in the country, because all the beer is packed away in the back, with standing room for just a couple of people. The pub is run by Joule’s Brewery and their Pale Ale is a classic old English pale that’s dry, biscuity, and floral with hops. And there are always a few modern hop-forward ales too, always kept perfectly. But you should start with a pint of the classic Burton ale, Draught Bass, now brewed at Marston’s, which is gravity-poured directly from the cask.
Find somewhere to sit and imagine how this place would’ve been years ago when Burton was at its brewing peak and the pub was the Bass
Brewery taphouse. It’s a portal to yesteryear, a place to drink in history in many different ways. Some pubs are more than just pubs.
WHAT: Coopers Tavern
WHERE: 43 Cross Street, Burton-upon-Trent DE14 1EG
An illustration of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visiting Ind
Coope and Allsopp’s Brewery in 1888.
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