I wanted the send-off from Burton to be a bit of a celebration of the town’s brewing tradition, and we managed to accomplish this in some style.
The night before the send-off, we had dinner (curry obviously) in Burton with most of the town’s brewers – Rudgie representing Coors/Worthington (sadly both brewers, Steve and Jo, were on holiday), Ian Ward from Coors, although by the time you read this he’ll have left to go to Marston’s, Jeff Mumford from Burton Bridge Brewery, and John Saville from the Burton Old Cottage Beer Company. And my mate Chris. The latter two seemed a bit bemused as to why we were all there, but a fantastic curry and a tasting of various Burton IPAs – Marston’s Old Empire, Worthington White Shield, and Burton Bridge Imperial India Ale, meant the evening went off very nicely.
We capped it with a bottle of Ratcliffe’s ale, the beer from 1789 found by Steve Wellington in the cellars. It was like nothing else – or maybe a little like Utopias from Samuel Adams – strong aromas of port and dried summer fruit, rich raisins, brandy and plums, vanilla, cinnamon, buttered leather, and according to one of our company, “the inside of a Bombay taxi driver’s jock strap,” though he didn’t tell us how he knew. And a taste of cedar wood, leather and old closets.
Thus fortified, the following morning the local MP, Janet Dean, turned up to see us on our way. Barry and I then travelled with Ian, Chris and Rudgie though Burton on the back of a horse drawn dray to the canal, where we set off back south again.
And so Barry was on his way – at a speed which, if I kept constant, would mean the whole journey would take me six and a half years…