The Melbourn Bros. line is discontinued - Try Samuel Smith's Organic Fruit beers Craig, MdV, July 2011
While there are older breweries in England, it would be safe to say that few breweries are so little changed as this gem at Stamford, which has stood in the center of the beautifully preserved market community since 1825. From the antique grist mill to the ancient copper vessels, Melbourn Bros. remains today, a working brewery which blends the traditions of the ancient craft with that of the early industrial revolution. By using such a facility to brew beer with wild yeasts, seasoned with fresh fruits, we are reliving a history for which books are destined to be written.
One of the high points of any visit to England would be a visit to Stamford, a small town in Lincolnshire, in the east of England. Just off the main square, near all Saints' Church, is the working brewery of Melbourn Bros.
William Brown Edwards established the basis for the present brewery in 1825. Edwards and his family ran the brewery until 1857, when Frederick George Phillips, who, in turn, was followed by Elmer Brown in 1859, succeeded them. The business bought by Herbert Wells Melbourn in 1869 was therefore already well established and successful. Though small by the standards of London or Burton-on-Trent, the size of the brewery and its trade was about average for the country as a whole.
The establishment suffered a fire in 1876 and had to be rebuilt. When it was rebuilt, the most modern brewing methods of the day were employed, including a coal-fired boiler, and the new plant was called Melbourn Bros. Steam Beer Brewery.
Melbourn Bros. was operated until the late 1970s, when it was decided that the plant was too old and inefficient. During the years of operation, as is the custom in England, the brewery's majority of customers were its own "tied" pubs in and around Stamford.
In 1994 Melbourn Bros. decided that their beer would be brewed in an ancient British tradition, with fresh fruits as seasoning. (Only as recently as the Middle Ages has the hop been used as a beer seasoning and preservative.) At that time, old fashioned construction, wooden tanks, and other hard-to-clean surfaces would otherwise have been considered a liability. Instead these were turned into an asset: the brewery would make an ideal facility in which to brew spontaneously fermented beer.
Today, with 15,000 inhabitants, Stamford is a living museum, and a visit is a step back in time. Students of architecture can see Saxon, Danish and Norman buildings. The mellow stone buildings, both private and municipal, range from medieval to the 18th century. In addition to beautiful buildings Stamford offers churches, museums, shops, pubs, hotels, bed-and breakfasts and a nice public garden next to the river. It is a great place to explore, with delightful surprises around every corner.