Thornbridge Brewery, Kill your Darlings
Thornbridge Brewery was founded ten years ago by Jim Harrison, owner of the recently restored Thornbridge Hall, a spectacular stately home in the Peak District.
The brewery began life in a humble carpenter’s shed in the grounds of the estate, but given that Jim’s not short of a bob or two, it has been no surprise to see Thornbridge’s incredible rise from there.
The newer state of the art brewery (they now operate from two sites, the first still being at Thornbridge Hall) at Crompton Mill, near Bakewell, is on the site of Richard Arkwright's former cotton factory. Arkwright was the chap that worked out how to harness water power, creating the modern cotton industry with his spinning frame in the late 18th century and in the process becoming one of the founders of the industrial revolution.
Thornbridge Brewery has taken on that mantle, becoming one of the major driving forces of the modern craft brewing movement.
This lot take their brewing seriously. Armed with food science and microbiology degrees, the newer brewery is full of the latest hi-spec equipment, along with in-house research and development facilities. Head Brewer Rob Lovatt oversees proceedings and speaks more about quality control than any brewer we’ve ever met. Just check out his blog posts for some no holds barred views on the industry at large.
As one of the most innovative breweries in the UK, they are pushing the boundaries of flavour and styles. Most breweries use a handful of different malt and hop varieties in their beer. Thornbridge use 18 varieties of malt and around 60 varieties of hops.
Their strap line is 'Innovation, Passion and Knowledge'. This is no hollow promotional stunt but a cultural statement on how they go about their day-to-day business. They have now won over 350 national and international awards to prove it.
Last week we talked about the rarity of Vienna lagers on these shores. Then we feature two in two weeks. Thornbridge’s take on the style is reddish brown in colour with a medium body, characterised by a malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. A twist has been added by late hopping with Amarillo and Tettnanger. After a period of cold fermentation the beer has been lagered for 5 weeks. “We have done the waiting so you can enjoy the crisp fresh flavours, best drunk as fresh as possible” says Head Brewer, Rob Lovatt.