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Be of good cheer, with Derbyshire beer

Posted by Jonathan Broom on 29 August 2018
Related property: Blore Hall
Be of good cheer, with Derbyshire beer

Britain may be synonymous with beer – having invented most of the styles of beer prevalent today – but the relationship hasn’t always been a happy one. In fact, far from being a brewing powerhouse, for much of the 20th Century British beer was lacklustre. Production was dominated by a few big players, churning out what many (my own father among them) regarded as little better than dishwater, and while there were some struggling ‘niche’ operators (hard to believe now, but the likes of Adnams and Greene King were included in that number), they were few and far between. The total number of UK breweries was in the low hundreds, and in our little corner of the world, East Anglia, Dad and I would travel many miles in search of a decent pint.

Though unbeknownst to the two of us, in the early 1980s a real-ale revival was already under way, thanks to the Campaign for Real Ale. Founded in 1971, it was easy to scoff at CAMRA as a bunch of beardy, beer-bellied blokes – beer bores, if you will. Easy, but wrong: CAMRA tapped a national nerve, and we have the organisation’s sustained and effective efforts to thank for the overall UK-wide rise in the production and popularity of decent beer.

That – and the latter-day shot in the arm provided by the advent, and meteoric rise, of the microbrewery. For which our former colonies deserve our undying gratitude.

Perfectly clear: a brewery worker checks a new pale ale

About 20 years ago, entrepreneurial American, Australian and New Zealand beer-lovers started making fantastic beers, copying (but bettering) UK styles: pale ales, porters, stouts and IPAs. Shamed into following suit, independent British craft brewers have rediscovered these lost arts.

And how. The UK now boasts more breweries per head of population (over 2,000, and still rising) than any other country in the world.

The breweries, old and new, are spread throughout the land – but Derbyshire, where Blore Hall is located, seems to have more than its fair share: at the time of writing there are 74 active beer producers in the county, 65 of which are microbreweries or pubs with a brewery attached, collectively producing hundreds of year-round, seasonal and special-edition brews.

A 'tasting flight' of craft beers

The Derbyshire pubs with breweries attached (and their distances from Blore Hall) are as follows:

The Red Lion, Birchover, 16 miles north-east on the A515 and B5056

The Boot, Repton, 24 miles south-east on the A515 and A50

The Globe, Glossop, 37 miles north on the A515 and A6

The Dronfield Arms, Dronfield, 31 miles north-east on the A515, A619, A621 and B6054

The Rykneld Turnpyke, Chesterfield, 27 miles north-east on the A515, B5056, B5057 and A632

The John Thompson Inn, Ingleby, 30 miles south-east on the A52, A515, A50 and A514

The Holly Bush, Marehay, 21 miles east on the A515, A517, A609 and B6179

The White Lion, Long Eaton, 28 miles south-east on the A52, A601, B6002 and A6005

The County & Station, Matlock Bath (see top picture), 15 miles north-east on the B5035 and A6

The Speedwell Inn, Lowgates, 32 miles north-east on the A515, B5056, B5057, A632, A61 and A619

There are also a number in Derby, the county town: the Brunswick, the Falstaff, the Furnace, Mr Grundy’s Tavern and the Rowditch Inn. Derby lies 18 miles to the south-east of Blore, on the A52.

Where the pub has a website, the name of the pub is highlighted.

Grains of greatness: a head-brewer examines a batch of barley

Clearly these hostelries are open for visits during licensing hours. But a number of the county’s microbreweries also welcome visitors. Here are five, local to Blore Hall:

Amber Ales, Ripley, 22 miles east on A515, A517, A6, A610 and B6179. Tours are by arrangement, and the on-site shop is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 2pm to 6pm. They can be contacted by phone on 01773 512864, or you can visit their website by clicking here.

Buxton Brewery, Buxton, 22 miles north on the A515. They are open for visits over the weekend, prebooked via the website, which you can visit by clicking here. The site also includes an online shop.

Collyfobble, Barlow, 28 miles north-east on the A515, B5055, A619 and B6050. Tours can be booked by phone on 01142 890611, or by emailing ayup@collyfobblebrewery.com. They have a website, which you can access by clicking here.

Thornbridge Brewery, Bakewell, 18 miles north on A515, B5055 and A6. Tours are at 3pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and can be booked by phone on 01629 815999 or via the website, which you can access by clicking here. There is a shop, open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30 pm, or online 24/7.

Derventio Brewery, Darley Abbey, 18 miles south-east on A52. Tours are strictly by appointment, but can be arranged by phone on 01332 380199 or email to enquiries@derventiobrewery.co.uk. The Brew Shed, the brewery’s “shop front”, is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 5:30pm. You can also visit the website, by clicking here.

Tools of the trade: a fermentation tank and brew kettle

Derbyshire is a glorious county, full of natural and manmade beauty, and fabulous walks through the Peak District. If, at the end of such an outing, one finds oneself in a convivial pub that makes and sells its own beer: surely so much the better? And what more enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon than with a fascinating visit to a brewery that takes pride in producing something truly unique?

My Dad would have loved the place.

Jonathan Broom

Jonathan Broom

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