Stories, as they go, range from downright boring to totally unbelievable. We hope you find our story somewhere in the middle. At least it will give you an idea as to how Olde Burnside Brewing came to be, and why we think our ales are poised to be some of the best in the land.
It all actually started two generations ago, when The Burnside Ice Company was established by Bob McClellan's grandfather just after the turn of the century. Coming from a long line of hardworking Scotsmen, Albert McClellan wasted no time in making Burnside Ice a leading supplier of ice to homes and businesses throughout the greater Hartford, Connecticut area. His tradition was carried down to Bob's dad, Clifford and to Bob as well. As the story goes, Bob remembers his grandfather speak of the ales that were brewed locally in those days and how refreshing they were after a long day's work. Often the cost for a pint of ale back then was a mere nickel. On special occasions, the brewers would produce an extra fine ale for which they would charge a little more; often as much as a whole dime or ten pennies! Those were the ales that Albert McClellan lamented were no longer available in later years.
Rare photos of the actual Burnside Ice wagon (pictured are Bob's uncles) and ice operation on a pond near Goodwin St, East Hartford - circa 1912
Bob, being a beer lover in his own right, dreamed of someday being able to savour a true "Ten Penny Ale". He even fancied the idea of becoming a brewer someday, brewing the stuff himself. As years went by, the ice company flourished, now supplying mostly grocery stores, package stores, restaurants and caterers as well as folks planning parties and picnics. The popularity of Burnside's product was due largely to the purity of the water emanating from the aquifer deep beneath the earth under the East Hartford neighborhood. At the urging of several local residents Bob began to offer the water through a dispenser at the front of the building on Tolland Street.
Back around 1994, Bob noticed several of his water customers coming in for fairly large quantities of the water. Out of curiosity, Bob inquired as to their use of so much of the water and they heartily responded with “Brewing beer!” Apparently, Bob’s water had qualities that made an especially clean, pure and flavorful ale, without chemical or other unwanted tastes. Bob was immediately intrigued and sent off a sample of the water to a local lab for analysis. The tests revealed that the water was surprisingly similar in mineral characteristics to the famous waters of Burton-on-Trent, the source of water for many of the celebrated ales of the United Kingdom.
The original recipe for Ten Penny Ale was an award-winning creation of our first head brewer, Ray Ballard, and local beer guru, Paul Zocco. A subsequent search for used brewery equipment to outfit the new brewery resulted in a trip to Sheridan, Wyoming, to the Wyoming Brewing Co., which had just recently closed. Transported by four trailer trucks, the brewery was assembled in what was a 4-bay truck garage at the ice plant, which now houses the entire Olde Burnside Brewing Co. Our current head brewer, Joe Lushing, along with his assistant brewer, Chris Parrott, strive to carry on the tradition of making world-class ales. We at the Olde Burnside Brewing Co. are very proud of the ales we produce and hope that you enjoy them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
Sometimes things just work out great for everybody...
Ten Penny Ale... WORK HARD, DRINK WELL!!!!!