Thornbridge are one of my favourite UK breweries, based in Bakewell, Derbyshire. They have built a great reputation on good quality and flavoursome India Pale Ale’s (IPA). Craft Beer Co. is a bar group predominantly based in London with numerous venues across the city, specialising in providing a great choice of quality beers to consumers.
Although I have visited Craft Beer Co. venues before, this was my first visit to this one. A recent CAMRA award-winning venue, it’s an historic pub with a pretty impressive number of taps available (the most in the UK until May 2014), vintage bar area, seating and standing downstairs with additional seating upstairs. With this being a Thornbridge tap takeover, all but four of the taps available were dedicated to Thornbridge; this is probably the most Thornbridge beers I’ve ever seen available in one place at any time.
Although Thornbridge’s reputation is built on IPAs, the selection included lots of other styles too, including stouts, sours, fruit and botanical beers. The bar had available third pint measures, my preference as it allows me to try lots of different beers. Amongst the beers I tried at the bar were Leather Lane, a 4.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) pale ale brewed in collaboration with the Craft Beer Co., Rattlesnake a 6.5 % American IPA and Passionfruit and Raspberry Tart, a 6% sour beer (although not overly sour, thankfully).
For the second part of the evening, I was invited by Meg and James, both on the Thornbridge marketing team, to attend an IPA tasting session in the upstairs room. Not one to overlook free beer, of course I jumped at the opportunity!
Both Meg and James were knowledgeable about the brewery and brand, giving some insight into the history and the stories behind the IPAs available for tasting. I confess I had already tried all the beers previously, but that of course didn’t prevent me from enjoying them all again. Included in the tasting was the multi award-winning Jaipur a 5.9% ABV IPA, Thornbridge’s biggest seller, one of the first truly great tasting IPAs I’ve ever had and one that I frequently go back to. There was also AM:PM, a session IPA at 4.5%, Huck a double IPA at 7.4%, Halcyon an imperial IPA at 7.4% and finally, Jaipur X, a ramped up 10% version of Jaipur.
As the evening wore on and beer started to loosen the tongue, I did quiz both Meg and James separately about the future of Thornbridge and the prospect of a potential big brewery takeover from someone like AB InBev, who have recently hit the headlines with some smaller brewery purchases to bolster their portfolio even further. I got the impression from both that although they have a strong relationship with AB InBev owned companies, it is unlikely that Thornbridge would be added to that list – “the owners don’t need to” I was told.
It was a terrific (and boozy!) evening which I thoroughly enjoyed thanks to the hospitality and company as much as the beer. I’m already looking forward to seeing Thornbridge again at Leeds International Beer Festival and during Leeds Beer Week.If you enjoy reading our content, please consider sharing with your friends using the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. Also, you can subscribe to receive notifications about new blog posts via email. Simply enter your email address into the 'Subscribe to Mike's Tap Room' box at the top left of this page.