News Garrett Oliver Helps Save Historic British Brewing System ‘Burton Unions’

Two brewers in the UK have agreed to save what is perhaps the last remaining Burton Unions fermentation set. Burton Unions have been used in brewing British-style ales for well over 150 years. It is an odd ‘set’ of wooden barrels that are tied together in ‘union’ to create a unique method of fermentation.

Earlier this year, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company announced that they were getting rid of what is likely the last Burton Union in use in the UK. But it has since been announced that the set will be moved and installed for use at the Thornbridge Riverside Brewery, in Derbyshire, UK.

The preservation and transfer of this historic brewing method and system was initiated by Garrett Oliver, the iconic and longtime brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewing Company in New York. Garrett has ties to the British brewing scene, including Carlsberg and Thornbridge.

“As some of you know, I fell in love with beer in the early 80s while living in London, stage-managing bands and going to the pub,” Garret said in an Instagram post. “Some things are not just historical, but also somehow magical. I feel the same way about the Burton Unions (if you don’t know what they are, you can go check out Pete Brown’s article through his IG).”

Garrett must have had the persuasive touch.

“I didn’t save the Burton Unions, but I apparently helped convince @thornbridge and CMBC to save the Unions, and that makes me very happy indeed,” Garrett said.

And with that, Britain will continue to have beer made using Burton Unions.

See the history of Burton Unions and more background on the story here.

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