The Brewery

Commercial brewing has a long history in the southern quarter of the ancient town of Northampton. Just opposite our current brewery was the town’s original Norman brewery dating from the time of Thomas Becket and the foundation of the market in the 13th century. The water in this part of town, bubbling up through Cotswold limestone, attracted brewers then and now. The River Nene provided the vital transport links to the finest barley growing areas in East Anglia and from 1816 the link to the Grand Union Canal brought cheap and reliable coal to the town, the spur to the development of large scale steam brewing.

The Albion Brewery building is a rare survivor of a Victorian Tower brewery, eking out a living throughout the 20th Century in a modest and unassuming way. It was tired and worn out, near derelict and at risk. The project to return Phipps ale production to the county had been focusing on Towcester Water Mill, back in the town where the company was founded in 1801. However the chance to restore a genuine former Phipps brewery building was a once in a life time opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Following a fund raising campaign, the shell of the Albion was made water tight and secure; the interior was sand blasted and rotten areas repaired with heritage materials. Finally, a brand new British built 15 brewer’s barrels, gas fired brewery plant was installed in early 2014. Even though the Victorian brass copper and wood brewing kit has long been sent for scrap, the building came alive again with modern versions taking its place. The large, airy cask cellars and dark cool conditioning tunnel are now doing what they were designed for once again. The daily pageant of brewing can be seen from the brewery tap bar through the new oak and glass partition in the brewhouse with tours of the whole brewery happening throughout the year. Come and visit the country’s oldest new brewery.

The Albion Brewery building is a rare survivor of a Victorian Tower brewery, eking out a living throughout the 20th Century in a modest and unassuming way. It was tired and worn out, near derelict and at risk. The project to return Phipps ale production to the county had been focusing on Towcester Water Mill, back in the town where the company was founded in 1801. However the chance to restore a genuine former Phipps brewery building was a once in a life time opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Following a fund raising campaign, the shell of the Albion was made water tight and secure; the interior was sand blasted and rotten areas repaired with heritage materials. Finally, a brand new British built 15 brewer’s barrels, gas fired brewery plant was installed in early 2014. Even though the Victorian brass copper and wood brewing kit has long been sent for scrap, the building came alive again with modern versions taking its place. The large, airy cask cellars and dark cool conditioning tunnel are now doing what they were designed for once again. The daily pageant of brewing can be seen from the brewery tap bar through the new oak and glass partition in the brewhouse with tours of the whole brewery happening throughout the year. Come and visit the country’s oldest new brewery.

In the late 19th century 5 large breweries occupied this prime area, amongst them Ratliffe & Jeffery’s Albion Brewery on Kingswell Street. Today Carlsberg’s lager plant sits on the joint site of the original P.Phipps 1817 Brewery and NBC’s 1864 Phoenix Brewery on Bridge Street. The Albion Brewery became part of the Phipps’ Brewery in 1899 when Ratliffes were absorbed by its larger neighbour. Brewing ended for the first time in 1919 and the building became the James Brothers lemonade plant and grocery warehouse. In 1954 a tanning firm took over and after a change of owners in 1974, leather dressers Teesdale Leathers made high quality coloured and textured leathers on site, including Filofaxes. This business ended in 2012 as smart phones did away with personal organisers. The positive for us was that Northampton’s last surviving traditional brewery building, once part of the Phipps empire, became available.

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Brewery Tours

The Albion Brewery and its bar is open for brewery tours. Sample our wonderful range of  ales, ancient and modern, follow the brewing process and learn a few of Phipps’ secrets, then wander through the tunnels and cellars under the building, see the King’s Well where the finest water in the area has attracted brewers for centuries. Contact Mel on 01604 946606 or email mel@phipps-nbc.co.uk for details and dates.

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