Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Getting it Right

Our AGM was held at the Sheffield Tap. We had a private room in the part where the in house brewery is and beer, kindly provided for us by owners Pivovar, was on tap on a help yourself basis.  So we helped ourselves.  The room itself is magnificent and we were told it had been closed for over 30 years when taken over and was in a filthy state. It isn't now as you can see from the picture and provided a great backdrop to a very lively discussion.  A wheat beer produced in the brewery was very highly thought of, as was a Vienna style lager. I can vouch that the cask beer was top stuff too.

Once this aspect was over, it was an enthusiastic and slightly oiled bunch that set off on a coach to Thornbridge Brewery, deep in the Derbyshire countryside.  The Riverside Brewery is a neat set of modern buildings which we reached after the driver and some of our chaps worked out how to get over the river which separated the road we were on from the one the brewery was on. That sorted - not without false starts - we arrived and got stuck in to a the beers provided, both in cask and on keg.

The brewery itself is a multi million pound cathedral of stainless steel. "Italian designed therefore twice as costly" as our guide joked. Well not joked, more ruefully explained.  It has been extended from its first incarnation a number of times and will be extended more. The brewing kit is a mixture of types including multi purpose vessels and gives a great deal of flexibility to the brewers.  We also had a tour of the lab which has every kind of device imaginable to test, calibrate and control beer, including a sort of "mini brewery" in a test tube kind of affair that can mimic fermentation outcomes in a very short time. Nothing is left to chance here and it is the minute attention to detail, that to me, sets Thornbridge above many of its rivals.  That isn't to say that every beer will be to your taste, but it won't be muddy, murky and imprecise. It will be clean and there is a very, very  high degree of probability that it came out exactly as intended both process and outcome wise.

For those that like aged beer, we also visited a separate building housing beer maturing in various wooden casks. All done on a very carefully controlled basis and all very neat, functional and well laid out.  Back in the bar, I was particularly pleased to see one of the brewers Dominic Driscoll, an old mate from his Marble Brewery days and all round good egg and enjoyed the beery discussion with him and fellow BSF members. Probably a little more than Dom who had not of course been drinking.

Thornbridge does so many things right. They are beers to seek out for the quality of the ingredients, but also for the care and attention to detail that goes into their making.  I recommend them highly.

Sadly there was no Cocoa Wonderland around at this visit, but you can't have everything. 

The photo of some of the vessels at the brewery is a fraction of them and doesn't really do it justice.


Unknown said...

Does Thornbridge deliver some of its beer in wooden casks to the pubs?

Tandleman said...

I doubt it.

Stono said...

"deep in the Derbyshire countryside" aka Bakewell,more famous for its...puddings, though strangely everyone does assume Thornbridge are more likely based in Sheffield,even before their Sheffield FC linkup, presumably because places like the Sheffield Tap has become such a great place to plan an interchange of trains between the Midlands/North West, and that back room is even better place to drink when its filled with the aromas of brewing,and it gave them a wider exposure and link.Though I dont know to be fair Thornbridge seemed established and linked with Sheffield even before the Tap came along.

the great thing about the attention to brewing Thornbridge have, I have noticed other than their own beers are spot on, everyone who has worked for them in the past and has gone one to do their own things, takes that same attention to their own beer & brewing