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Kill Your Darlings, Lord Marple…

Sine of the bottled beers brewed in Bakewell by Thornbridge

Beer Brewed in Bakewell

Three guesses?

Beer afficionados may know what I am talking about but this time twelve hours ago I would have been as perplexed as anyone. Now, having just been on a visit to Thornbridge Brewery in Bakewell, I can tell you with great confidence that Lord marples is a Classic British Bitter 4.0%, ‘surprisingly smooth with light toffee and caramel characters, a mixture of floral and spicy hop notes and a bitter finish’.

‘Kill Your Darlings’ on the other hand, is a Vienna style lager 5.0% ‘characterised by a malty aroma and slight malt sweetness.’ And these are just two of a myriad of ‘craft’ beers with delicious tastes and fancy names – and a semi-naked lady on the label – being brewed very seriously in Bakewell.

Thornbridge -fluorescent jackets

Setting off purposefully to see where the beer is made

There is no limit to what goes on in Derbyshire, and even those of us who live here don’t know the half of it. Last month you may remember, we went on a tour of Renishaw Hall, home of the Sitwell family, where we learnt all about the excellent wine made there, from grapes grown on the site. Today we discovered a thriving local beer brewing industry, located on the Riverside Industrial Estate in Bakewell, yards from where I used to work in blissful ignorance of its existence, for over ten years…

One small section showing the casks piled up

The casks of beer waiting to be distributed

The tour was arranged by Visit Peak District, who arrange a series of interesting visits for accommodation and attractions providers.

Far from being a reward at the end of a talk and tour, we started off with the beer. Then Jim Harrison, who with his wife Emma owns Thornbridge Hall where the brewery started (and where the part of it still continues) gave a very helpful talk about the Thornbridge beer and the ethos of the brewery.

Then we all donned our fluorescent yellow jackets and strode off very purposefully as you can see from the photograph, to be taken in groups round the brewery, all gleaming stainless steel and electronic wizardry masterminded by enthusiastic humans.

The brewers' control

The brewer can view and control the whole process

We tasted ‘chocolate’ malt, smelt hops, peered into barrels and gawped at rather attractive computer screens. What came across more than anything was the enthusiasm of the experts, who obviously take enormous pride in being part of a small, select and very forward thinking brewery. One suddenly saw beer in a very different light, as a specialist drink that could be created and enjoyed by connoisseurs, rather than one to be quaffed thoughtlessly, for its thirst-quenching or alcoholic content.

Tours are arranged every Wednesday. To book yourselves onto a tour you need to email info@thornbridgebrewery.co.uk. To buy beer online go to their website.

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