Crafti Beer Peak District Road Trip
With the start of the year showing no signs of slowing down. We at CraftiBeer set new year resolutions to get out of the office more and stop driving a desk. So that’s exactly what we did! Our aim is to make 2018 the year where we get out to meet lots of different breweries. Attend loads more different events and get in touch with way more people on social media and in person. So what better way to start all this with a road trip to the Peak district.
With such a beautiful expanse of countryside and rolling Hills, the peak district is home to some of the most prestigious breweries in the UK. The people of this part of the world are warm and welcoming and have a long and good understanding of how to run a great pub for all the walkers and outdoor world enthusiasts that want to take shelter at the end of a days activities. With pub numbers in decline there was no sign of this in the area surrounding Bakewell, as tourists and locals alike go about there daily routines. We were lucky enough to visit a number of local establishments that offered a vast range of craft beers and everyone was keen to talk about their favorite brew and keen to expand your knowledge of what best to drink. We visited two breweries while away from the office, both of which offer an excellent range of craft and traditional beers. Thornbridge was the first of our visits and Peak Ales was the second brewery. We had the opportunity to interview both breweries and try a selection of their best brews. The video footage of each of these interviews can be located below. The interviews as they have a great insight into not only the beers but the breweries them selves.
This where we started our tour, visiting the 2 Breweries and a number of different pubs to ensure we maximised our short but effective time away from our desks. The first Brewery on our trip was the Thornbridge Brewery. The Thornbridge brand of beers were first began brewing in early 2005 in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall. They initially focused on a range of cask beers that used traditional recipes but provided a modern twist through the use of a wide range of hops, malts and the innovation and passion. After winning a succession of awards (of which they have now won over 350 national and international awards) a new, state of the art, brewery and bottling line was opened at Bakewell in September 2009 to meet with demand and increase their range of beers. Thornbridge also have a handful of pubs in the Sheffield area as well as supplying the major supermarkets and 40 countries worldwide. They brew everything on site which consists of Cask, Keg and bottle, nothing is outsourced to a third party. They aim to try and produce a beer for everyone ranging from craft beers, through to a traditional ale drinker. One of their biggest sellers is the Jaipur IPA which we have reviewed on the site and features as part of our interview with James. Jaipur makes up to half of all of Thornbridge’s beer production in a year and has won in excess of 100 awards both in the UK and internationally. They say what sets them apart from other breweries is there quality and consistency. Despite seeing phenomenal growth since they first started in 2005 they have kept their beers consistent and ensured the beer has remained unaltered by progress.
They are a very social group and offer brewery tours once a week as well as having lots of events that they encourage people to become involved in so that they can share their innovation, passion and knowledge for beer.
We were lucky enough to take a back stage tour of the brewery and see where all the magic happens. The modern state of the art facilities are nestled just on the outskirts of Bakewell and offers a great vision of how their brewery works. The first thing you notice as with all breweries is the smell of hops and beer. The warm sweet aroma is enticing and welcoming like the draw of your favorite food wafting to your nose when you hungry. Depending on the day that you go the smell will vary according to which beer is being brewed and bottled. We arrived to a fantastic set of offices that are open, modern and spacious. Where else can you say that you have a Bar with fresh beer directly next to your work space.
James and Victoria from Thornbridge welcomed us and made us feel right at home by starting our tour of the brewery in the bottling plant. Our first vision of a very modern approach to bottling. With so much of the process now automated it was fascinating to watch how the beer was piped fresh to the bottle, capped, labeled, boxed and picked ready for shipping. It was like a giant meccano set, all working in unison. With military precision each bottle is carefully processed ready to dispatch to any one of 40 different countries globally that imports the beer. The speed at which the beer was bottled was remarkable. It is fair to say that the smell of Jaipur filled the air and smelt absolutely fantastic.
The process of brewing beer has long been an art, but now in the modern world it has also become a science. With so many countries to export too each comes with their own set of requirements. So the chemical composition of each beer is as important for not just consistency but evidencing what is exactly contained in each batch to satisfy not just consumers but governments alike. The science of brewing has also ensured the high level of consistency across all the brands.
Conversely Thornbridge do so much more than just main stream beers. We were lucky enough to see their expansive selection of bespoke cask beers that are brewed for as much fun as commercial viability. It was clear to see that they give their brewers free reign over the choice of what they want to brew.
We got to see the inner working of the brewery and understand the complexity and passion that goes in to each of the different beers that they produced. Talking to the guys at Thornbridge it was clear that their passion for beer was second to none. Their knowledge and enthusiasm was infectious and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the brewery and would like to thank all the staff who made our time their very enjoyable.