Monday 6 May 2019

Thornbridge’s future in 2006

I never get a press pack through the post anymore, always emails, which I rarely keep, unless I think there is something of value for future work. It didn’t used to be like that — when I started writing about beer towards the end of 1996 (What’s Brewing, a feature on Moor Beer, which of course was under a different owner and based on a farm then), I kept the majority of the press packs that came my way, including ones from brewers no longer in the game (King & Barnes) as well as ones that have changed and kept up with what has been happening in beer. 

Moving stuff around yesterday I came up on a press pack from Thornbridge around about 2006, 18 months or so after they’d started in 2004. I had visited the place sometime in 2005 and wrote something about the Hall (see below), which is where they were then brewing (with a Scottish and an Italian brewer), in my book The Big Book of Beer (bloody awful title). Given their current status (IMO) as the godfathers of the modern Brit beer scene, I find it interesting to see the direction that they seemed to be going in. Yes, there is Jaipur and St Petersburg, Wild Swan and Lord Maples, but then there is the future…which seemed to be beers made with dandelion, strawberry or herbs, all I seem to recall being grown on the estate. I wasn’t that excited to be honest, having given my heart and soul to Jaipur. These beers didn’t seem to happen and Thornbridge took the path that still excites me today, but if there’s one point I want to make here is that whenever one tries to predict the future of beer, it’s never that easy, in fact we could. be talking about various futures rather than just one. 

and here’s the extract from the book
Thornbridge Brewery, Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire
A trip to Thornbridge Brewery, based at Thornbridge Hall in the village of Ashford in the Water, is as much a visit to the land of Homes & Gardens, as it is to see and taste the fruits of John Barleycorn. The Hall boasts sweeping staircases, high-ceilinged rooms, gorgeous views over ornate gardens and windows by William Morris and Edward Byrne-Jones. It also houses a new 10-barrel brewery which has been set up by local businessman Jim Harrison (who owns the house with wife and entrepreneur Emma), along with Dave Wickett, the owner of the Fat Cat pub and its adjoining Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield. Initially used to brew Kelham Island ales to cope with increased orders after Pale Rider’s championship title at Olympia 2004, the brewery is now producing Thornbridge’s own brews including Craven Silk, an aromatic, rich and fruity session bitter whose palate is enlivened by the addition of elderflower into the mix. The elderflower is part of Jim’s brewing plans as he hopes to use other herbs, flowers and fruits from the estate to create Thornbridge’s special beers. 

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