Beer Blog

Albion Brewery Bar (aka Phipp’s NBC Brewery tap), Northampton


I didn’t quite know what to make of the Albion Brewery Bar? It’s not a pub in the proper sense of a pub. It’s actually Phipp’s Northampton Brewery Company, tap room and brewery. It was hard to determine the everyday ambience, because there was a bit of a party going on and it was absolutely heaving.

What I will say is this was the best beer I’d had all day in Northampton, quality and personal preference.

I asked for the Phipp’s IPA but it had just gone off and the guy went to change the barrel. While we were waiting one of the other excellent bar staff served Mrs C with a half of their Golden Mild. Yes Please! Only £3 a pint too. First things first, it wasn’t a mild, something Pubcurmudgeon points out in his own account.

Golden Best, someone said? Golden, definitely. It said ‘late hopped with Chevalier malt’ on the clip. It was far too hop forward for a mild and into the sort of hop spectrum I prefer. Very suppable at only 3.5% and in absolute top form, an easy NBSS 4, and probably a bit more if I thought about it. It really was excellent beer in excellent condition, to coin a phrase.


Thing was, with the jostle and din of whatever was going on it wasn’t beer connoisseur time and I only made scant notes. Clearly, with the rainbow flags and bunting, there was an LGBTQ event of some importance occurring, as the Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Gareth Earles and his consort Cllr Anna King were in attendance and kindly posed for a photograph.

My failing hearing couldn’t quite make out exactly what they were telling me, but the gist of what I got was Northampton Pride and Northampton, Massachusetts Pride linking up via video link to jointly celebrate. I’m not sure whether we’d just missed the 5.30pm link up or were just a tad early? Anyway it was spot on and had a real friendly vibe.


Getting back to pubs and stuff, it sort of made me think about the CAMRA revitalisation process and the need to spread the love and to include everyone, whatever they think, do, look like … I could go on but I’ll leave it there.

That got me thinking what this barn of a place would be like if the revellers hadn’t been there. It would have been a pretty cavernous place for just seven of us, having now dwindled in numbers as two of our team were returning to Somerset.

I’m hoping it would have been nicely busy on any Saturday tea time. The beer quality alone should dictate that, it’s in the GBG and they do a CAMRA discount (where doesn’t in Northampton?).

It’s quite nicely done out too. The bar and other fittings have obviously been salvaged from other pubs and there’s quite a bit of breweriana dotted about. The tables and chairs I could see, were a mishmash of old farmhouse style stuff and they even had CAMRA beer festival glasses?

Is this the ultimate in recycling or is the connection the tag line on the glass ‘200 years of brewing in Northampton’ and the 2017 date the connection to Phipps Northampton Brewing Company?

Phipps, who came to Northampton in 1817, is one of those regional brewers who died out when Watney Mann took them over. Then Carlsberg acquired everything and they still brew their lager on the original Phipps brewery site in Bridge Street – hence the 200 years brewing claim is quite correct. I’m not going into any more history, but if you are interested there is an excellent detailed account of Phipps NBC History on their website.

I’m pleased Phipps has been revived and if I lived in Northampton I reckon I’d be a regular here, if only to check out their excellent beers and guests, I think they do six plus two guests normally. I’m not sure how cosy it would be in the depths of winter, but it would be interesting watching the brewers behind their glass partition.

Or does everyone just go to the pub next door? Like I say, we need to spread the love with beer and pubs and I was surprised no one else wanted to call in for one apart from Retired Martin.


20 replies »

    • Yes, there’s no point being proscriptive, it was just very good beer – I can see where they are coming from, it is comparatively light in strength and you don’t see such a thing as a Golden Mild very often, if at all. Maybe Golden Light would be more apt? Whatever, it was, to my palate, very, very good beer which was well kept – it would be in a brewery tap though.


  1. The King Billy Rock Bar had four real ales on when we went in it in October 2016, the St Austell Tribute was a very nice drink.
    It was almost empty on our Saturday dinner visit,the Albion Brewery bar was quite busy at a similar time.


  2. “It’s actually Phipp’s Northampton Brewery Company, tap room and brewery.”

    That explains the star beside its name on the underground pub map Martin put up on his “Barry the Boar’s” post. 🙂

    “It was far too hop forward for a mild and into the sort of hop spectrum I prefer.”

    Over here, at 3.5%, they’d call that a Session IPA or some such.

    “but if you are interested there is an excellent detailed account of Phipps NBC History on their website.”

    Thanks. I’l give that a read later today.


    PS – “I think they do six pus two guests normally”

    Sorry. I don’t care how good the beer is, if it’s got pus in it I’m avoiding it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never really had any enthusiasm for reviving defunct breweries as it’s different ingredients in different premises by different owners who might or might not have paid for using the old name and trademark. I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with the beer in the Albion Brewery Bar or Stafford’s Olde Rose and Crowne but it’s not proper Phipps or proper Joules. That Albion Brewery was Ratliff & Jeffrey Ltd in 1899 when it was acquired by Phipps. I could see no sign of what might have been the Phipps Brewery, closed in 1974, in Gold Street. Carlsberg occupies what was the NBC site.
    That King Billy Rock Bar, with motor bikes outside, looks like a livelier pub than all those with mobility scooters Martin always ends up in.


    • That’s exactly my point with Marston’s – they may well keep the brewery open, but the economies of scale dictate that they will bulk and contract buy all their grains and hops from the same suppliers (the guy said as much when we went to Banks) so what was a regional beer is now being made with the same ingredients as Marston’s use across the UK and so tend towards homology.


    • There are revived breweries, revived beer, then there is Phipps, a class apart. To answer some of your points theothermudgie, today’s Phipps counts 6 members of the Phipps family and a Ratliffe among its shareholders and our chairman in the 6th great grandson of the founder Pickering Phipps. The brewery was built by Ratliffe and Jeffery in 1884 who merged with Phipps in 1899 and so Phipps owned and brewed on the site until 1919. The core traditional ales like the iconic Phipps IPA were meticulously revived from company records under the supervision of a number of old Phipps Bridge Street brewers and workers, notably Pat Heron who started brewing in his Northampton head brewer father’s footsteps in 1954 but later left the company to become head brewer at Hall and Woodhouse in Blandford Forum. Pat insisted on original suppliers where possible and similar grade ingredients where not, for instance we use the rare Dixons Ensymic malt in the IPA because that’s how it was always brewed. Our current head brewer was trained at Grainstore Brewery under the master brewer there, who was trained at Ruddles in the 1980s by head brewer Dusty Miller, who was head brewer at Phipps NBC from the early ’60s to 1972. Phipps original brewery in Northampton was not on Gold Street, their offices were. The current Carlsberg site is the amalgamation of the P.Phipps south brewery, nearest the River Nene and the NBC North Brewery, nearer town. The modern office block on the Bridge Street frontage was built by P.Phipps in 1957 -57 and apart from the wells and culverts supplying the brewing water, is the only part of the merged Phipps NBC brewery to have survived the demolition in 1974…. except for the Albion Brewery further up the road, which is now home once more to Ratliffes Stout and other fine Phipps ales. Thanks for visiting and enjoying our beers and brewery tap. None of the history would count for anything if people didn’t like the beers, authentic revived or newly created modern.


  4. To be fair to the dwindling remnants of our group (even Mrs RM had retired by now), I reach a point where I’ll go in ANYTHING by 5 pints in, whereas other folk normally stick to the task (not always though). Agree on beer quality, superbly cool and smooth. And it isn’t always so in Taps.


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