The official history of the county of Stafford[shire], available through the excellent British History Online, has lots of fascinating information on Burton-upon-Trent and the history of brewing. For example, this evocative passage on the birth of India Pale Ale:
Although the Baltic market was not completely destroyed by the Napoleonic blockade, it came to an end in the mid 1820s as the Baltic countries acquired their own breweries and imposed high tariffs on English imports. Burton brewers, therefore, had to develop other markets, especially in London and South Lancashire, and further afield in North America and Australia: in 1822 the Wilson-Allsopp brewery advertised for sale a quantity of ‘rich pale and fine-flavoured Ale, of uncommon strength’ which it was unable to export to Russia. Also in 1822 Samuel Allsopp’s head brewer succeeded in reproducing a bitter, sparkling ale which London brewers had been for some time exporting to India. The qualities of the local water made the pale ale brewed in Burton especially suited to longdistance transport, and other local brewers followed suit, with the result that by 1832 the Allsopp and Bass breweries dominated the exports to India. Burton pale ale also became popular in the home market.
Rich, pale and fine-flavoured, of uncommon strength… so, a kind of English answer to a maibock?