Thornbridge brewery is arguably the biggest brewery in the Midlands and with hundreds of awards to date, it is certainly one of the best. Rob and Pete took a trip to Sheffield to meet their Marketing Manager, Alex Buchanan.
My eyes used to light up whenever I wandered into a pub and saw there was a Thornbridge beer on. There was - and still is - something very exciting about them. When a lot of breweries are playing it safe with easy drinking beers, Thornbridge are sticking to their guns in making attention-grabbing, interesting and progressive beers, whilst always managing to keep one foot firmly in tradition.
Started in 2005 from Thornbridge Hall near Bakewell, they have expanded at an incredibly rate engulfing most of Derbyshire as they go, supplying beer drinkers with an ever increasing range of traditional and craft beer (however you decide to define craft beer). At last count, Thornbridge have two breweries, seven brewers, twelve pubs and over one hundred beers under their belts and like a child with metaphorical ants in his pants, Thornbridge seem to want to keep on moving.
Pete and I were invited to meet Alex Buchanan, the head of marketing for Thornbridge, at the DADA bar in Sheffield (probably a little more than a stones throw from Hatch'd Magazine's jurisdiction but whatcha gonna do). Now I’ve been to a Thornbridge bar before, namely the Coach and Horses in Dronfield, which is a cosy, traditional and homely kind of pub. The DADA bar however, is more of a city bar and a great one at that.
Amazing white walls with slightly curious graffiti type art (think happy, smiling, fun-loving genitals), a great selection of keg and cask beer from around the world and a varied selection of club nights and gigs to get your feet moving while you enjoy your favourite pint. Not to mention a rotating gallery in the relaxed area of the bar for local artists to display their work, which Alex was more than willing for Hatch'd readers to be involved in (be sure to get in touch with Alex using the email address at the bottom if you would like your work exhibited).
What was obvious in Alex as soon as we sat down with a wonderful pint of their newest smoked porter (look out for that one), was how proud - and to a certain degree surprised - he was by the amount of success Thornbridge has enjoyed in a relatively small amount of time. From filling in for a couple of barrels at a local beer festival to supplying far off countries such as Sweden and Canada, it could be very easy to get carried away, or even complacent with their achievements, but thankfully, there is no sign of that. We were treated to stories of up-coming bottling, barrel aging some of their already incredible beers, along with some new ideas for innovative and great sounding craft brews. Personally I can’t wait.
It’s fair (and some might say, a little sad) to say that Thornbridge have been the subject of a fair amount of criticism as of late, mainly due to their sudden increase in bars around Sheffield. Some pub-goers consider 12 to be just that one too many. However, in a city that contains 400 pubs, 12 is just a drop in the ocean and as pub goers, we should be happy that a brewery which produces such good beer should make them so easily available for us to enjoy. If I could add anything to this dialogue it would be the simple phrase, “can Derby have a Thornbridge pub please!?"
If the history of Thornbridge was run as a montage or a near death “flashback” sequence, it would consist of tonnes upon tonnes of great beer, an ever increasing passionate team, collaborations, hundreds of awards and some amazing bars and pubs. Yes the history of Thornbridge is something they can all be proud of and the future is something they - and we - can look forward to.
To find out more about Thornbridge Brewery and their bars simply hop to their website or to get your artwork exhibited at the Dada Bar in Sheffield, email Alex at .