The history of Bass Ale starts with the unique ingredient that sets it apart from other beers. The water at Burton-on-Trent has been used for its unique flavoring by Benedictine monks since 1002. In his will a local nobleman, Wulfric Spot, deeded lands and money to set up a Benedictine Abbey to protect the shrine of St. Modwen. Little did he know that the monks would discover that the water at Burton-on-Trent made exceptionally good and strong beer. Hey, protecting a shrine is thirsty work! In 1777, William Bass was quick to note this phenomenon and bought his own brewery to capitalize on the fact.
Not only is Bass water of old repute, but the brewing process utilizes a unique system in which the active yeast is culled from the beer, after it has aided in the fermentation process, and used in the next batch. To top it all off, Bass has the world's first registered trademark; the red triangle that adorns their distinctive bottle. It was immortalized in 1914 when Picasso created his own masterpiece from the image of the English one.
A quote from the Bass Ale website:
"From its beginning, the history of BASS has been a chronicle of inspiration. It has been the topic of erudite debate, the subject of impressionism, a muse for writers, the obsession of emperors. The beer has traveled at the speed of sound, conquered the Wild West, and sunk tragically to the coldest depths of the sea."
The following stories were drawn from Bass's website, so you may want to take their historical accuracy with a grain of salt... and then possibly follow it up with a Bass or six. It'll make the following infinitely more entertaining and believable. With that in mind, I give you:
A History of Alcoholism: BASS style
Over 500 cases of Bass went down with the ill-fated cruiseliner.
Of course, the Titanic was all about luxury, no?
The impressionist painter was inherently drawn to dramatic light and color
and filled his canvas several times with the amber liquid as a subject.
Burning for glory or cursed with an icy death wish?
Either way, this South Pole explorer had Bass with him to keep the chill away.
The Old West showman wasn't above offering a taste of civility to Easterners and Europeans
that he escorted on hunting expeditions. The menu? Buffalo tail soup
and prairie dog salami washed down with a cold dark Bass.
When Napoleon realized that the water at Burton was the key to Bass's unique flavor and he
couldn't create his own Bass brewery in France, the rest of Europe was in trouble.
As if his short stature were not already enough to drive him towards world domination.
Edgar Allen Poe
Bass is no stranger to horror. In fact, it consoled the famed literary genius on those cold dark
nights when his stories became a little to close for comfort.
U.S. 2-row lager malt
M&F British crystal malt
Wyeast Labs London ESB liquid yeast culture (no. 1968)
1777 William Bass establishes a brewery in Burton
1800 Bass trading with 67 merchant importers
1832 Bass hits 10,000 barrels
1839 Rail extends to Burton and Bass flourishes
1850 Bass production tops 100,000 barrels
1862 Bass lays its own railway, with 16 miles of track in the brewery
1876 Bass triangle registered as Britian's first trademark
1877 Bass passes 1,000,000 barrels per annum mark
1902 King Edward VII mashes King's Ale in Burton
1926 Bass and Worthington breweries merge
1961 New merger creates Bass Mitchell's & Butler
1965 Carling available on draught in the UK
1967 Charrington United Breweries joins Bass to create Bass Charrington - UK's largest brewer
1969 Bass Charrington renamed Bass
1989 Bass' brewing and pub retailing operations split - Bass Brewers formed
1993 Bass Brewers acquires 34% of Prague Breweries
1994 Bass Brewers and Grolsch form Grolsch UK
1995 Bass Brewers forms Bass Ginsber Beer Co
1999 Carling is UK's first billion pint a year brand
2000 Bass Brewers acquired by Interbrew
You can see Picasso's Glass and Bottle of Bass here: