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The Origin of Burton Pale Ale
Originally, Burton ale was a rich, strong (up to 11% ABV), undoubtedly brown ale, common among 18th century brewers in England. It preceded pale ales and IPAs, which were also traditionally – and famously - brewed in Burton–on-Trent. The success of Burton ales has a long history. First traces were found in the 13th century Burton monasteries, and after their dissolution in 16th century it continued to be made by small town brewers. It was here that the famous India Pale Ale was first produced, as intended to be shipped overseas in times when Napoleonic Wars put embargos on intra-European export trade.
Hard, alkaline water found in the Burton area became a crucial natural resource for making clear, pale beers. The fame of Burton ales encouraged brewers around the world to try to recreate this style on their home grounds. The term of “Burtonisation” was coined to describe a process of adding sulphate to the brewing water to accentuate hop flavours in light ales and lagers. The characteristic sulphur hint in the beer became known among brewers as the "Burton snatch".
It wasn’t until 19th century, when Burton Pale Ale started becoming a separate type of ale, like stout, porter or IPA. It was created to challenge widely popular London breweries which produced mainly IPAs and intended to keep the Burton’s fine brewing reputation vivid. This style of pale ale is malty and balanced with a smooth aroma. The most famous Burton Pale Ale is produced by the Bass Brewery.