Burton-on-Trent is a small town in Staffordshire, England which originally grew up around the monastery of St. Modwin. Burton is famous for its brewing industry. Due to the high proportion of dissolved salts in the water, predominately caused by the gypsum in the surrounding hills, Burton beers grew popular during the Victorian era.
The development of rail links to Liverpool enabled brewers to export their beer throughout the British Empire. The accidental shipwreck of a cargo boat carrying India Pale Ale (an ale specially brewed to keep during the long sea voyage to India) resulted in barrels being washed ashore.
Their popularity resulted in the domestic marketing of such ale and resulted in the gradual transformation of English drinking tastes. Previously, Englishmen had drunk mainly stout and porter - dark beers flavoured with roasted barley and similar to Guinness - but bitter (a development of pale ale) came to predominate. This extensively hopped, lighter beer was easier to store and transport and so favoured the growth of larger breweries.
Burton came to predominate this trade, and at its height one quarter of all beer sold in Britain was produced here. Although over 30 breweries are recorded in 1880, a process of mergers and buy-outs resulted in three main breweries remaining by 1980: Bass, Ind Coopes and Marstons. Today (2002) only Marstons remains as an independent brewer - although the other two remain producing beer in Burton.
The fame of Burton ales gave rise to the English euphemism "gone for a burton" meaning to die - a World War II humorous suggestion that a missing comrade had merely nipped out for a beer.
The town has a non-league association football club, Burton Albion.
The Burton suburb of Branston is the home of the well-known Branston Pickle and also has a golf course.