Marston’s Pedigree – oak barrels’ union 1

Marston’s Pedigree is a beer that arises in oak barrels. The barrels are joined together to form a system. It’s the only supermarket beer brewed using Burton Union method.



Marstons Brewery in Burton-upon-Trent


Marston’s is a powerful company, which has its own native brewery, owns several brands (breweries, which it manages) and a network of pubs, which already has more than 2,000.
It is the world’s largest brewer of cask ale.
It had a market capitalization of £830 million in 2014.

The origins of the brewery dates back to 1834 when John Marston and his son founded the brewery in Burton-upon-Trent (Staffordshire).
The history of this company is the continuous progress – the company developed and still growing by combining with other entities.
Since 1890 bears the name Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, which is changed in 2007 to Marston’s plc.
The company headquarters is located in Wolverhampton (West Midlands).


Marston's Group


Marston’s manages five breweries:

  1. Marston’s Brewery in Burton-upon-Trent brews beers under the brand Marston’s (including just described Pedigree) and the beer brand Bass;
  2. Park Brewery in Wolverhampton, where are brewed beers: Banks’s, Mansfield plus most Thwaites;
  3. Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth (Cumbria), where, of course, are brewed beers under the brand Jennings;
  4. Wychwood Brewery in Witney (Oxfordshire) – all Wychwood beers, but also Brakspear Brewhouse;
  5. Ringwood Brewery in Ringwood (Hampshire).






Today described beer, whose full name is Marston’s Pedigree is a flagship brand of the brewery.
Production started in 1952, in 2010 sold it in amount of 150,000 hectoliters.


With beer Pedigree relate to two interesting facts.

The first relates to water.

So, Burton upon Trent, where is the Marston’s brewery, is famous for its unique water rich in sulphates (calcium sulphate).
When in the early nineteenth century in London, its popularity began to apply the style pale ale, a brewer from Burton (Samuel Allsopp) has copied the method for creating a new beer and found out that his ale is more distinctive in flavour. Thanks to the local water, beer had a more hoppy, bitter flavour profile.
The beer of Samuel Allsopp became known to such an extent that around quickly found followers and in 1888 in Burton-upon-Trent operated 31 breweries. Over the years their number has decreased, but at this moment in the town just operates five plants (including Ind Coope [former brewery of Allsopp], Bass [producer of popular Carling] and of course Marston’s).

Brewers from outside who want to recreate the taste of the famous ale from Burton-upon-Trent, use method known as burtonisation.
It is the act of adding sulphate, often in the form of gypsum, to the water used for the brewing of beer, in order to bring out the flavour of the hops.
This method is used when a brewer wishes to accent the hops in a pale beer, such as a pale ale. It is not used for dark beers such as stout.


The second interesting fact associated with Pedigree ale, is the way of its brewing.

Marston’s Pedigree is the only British market beer, which is brewed using Burton Union method.
On the label we have inscription “Matured in Oak Barrels“, and in logo of the brewery – symbol of three distinctive barrelsand in logo of the brewery – symbol of three distinctive barrels.
That is the fact: brewing begins in open copper or steel vats, and after a few days the process is transferred to the connected together oak barrels.


Burton Union System
“Burton Union fermentation system, Coors Visitor Centre – – 476438”
by Chris Allen. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons



Burton Union system was developed in 1830. Wooden barrels are connected and arranged in rows of 20-26 units. From each of them have a bent, like a swan neck, copper tube which is directed to a long trough over a range of barrels.
During the first fermentation process, excess of foam with yeast and beer leaking pipes to trough.


Burton Union System - troughs

In the trough, occurs delamination of contents. The beer is brought back into the barrels, and yeast from a layer which falls to the bottom are used in the subsequent production process.
This avoids the losses: amount of beer is maximally recovered, and the yeast used again. Another aspect is the unique bouquet of flavour thanks to the oak wood.


Burton System model
photo: Bernt Rostad


After the fermentation in barrels, the beer is poured into traditional casks, in which runs refermentation process, and then goes to pubs where this unique product enjoys palates of beer lovers.

This method (recovery of yeasts and limit losses of beer) is used widely in home brewing, but on a commercial scale it is Pedigree is the only one beer brewed using Burton Union method.


Before proceeding to a review yet a short advertising Pedigree, in which we’ll see in brief the process of brewing this special beer, and below a handful of additional informations taken from homepage of beer.




Pedigree was originally brewed in 1834, but for over 100 years was simply known as P.
It was only in 1952, as a result of the competition chosen the name under which beer is known today.

Pedigree won its first Gold Medal at the CAMRA Awards in 1985.
In 1988 it became the first English ale to win Glasgow’s CAMRA Award.
It went on to win the Best Ale in Scotland 2 years out of three; it won Midlands CAMRA Ale of the Year.
Won an Award of Excellence at the Craft Beer Institute in Chicago in 1996.

In the brewing process is used water from Burton, barley malt and Fuggles and Goldings hops.

First appeared at Lords, the home of cricket, in 1995.


And finally – time to taste.

I open the slim, dignified bottle with a label in colours of England: white and red, embellished with gold, which gives it splendor and dignity.


Brewery: Marston’s Plc (Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England)

Expiration date: 31/10/2016

Marston's Pedigree ale
Marston's Pedigree labels & cap


test-look-small Amber colour.
Cream-coloured foam, initially quite high, but rapidly disappearing.
test-sniff-small Aroma of malt, caramel, grassy.
A clear notes of yeast.
test-drink-small The taste is delicate, in which primarily can feel: malt, caramel, hops.
Clear notes of yeast and sulphate, resembling the taste of cider.
In the background noticeable fruits. Light sweet broken by mild bitterness.
At the finish also palpable bitterness of relatively low intensity.
Medium-bodied beer. Carbonation also at a medium level.


Marston’s Pedigree is a beer that is drunk nicely, it is refreshing, but if one expects exceptional, intense sensations that could be disappointed.
Alike aroma and flavour are very calm, delicate. Original elements are present notes of sulphate and yeast – the combined effect of the water used to brew and the unique Burton Union method.
Pedigree is pretty good bitter, but far moreunique than its flavour is equipment in which arises.



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