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The Beeristocrats

Added: Wednesday, February 1st 2006

Stately homes and country houses used to have their own breweries, where the butlers made the beer, but the activity disappeared along with most of the aristocracy. The late Lord Lichfield restored the brewery at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire and now Shugborough has been joined by Chatsworth House and Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire.

The Peak Brewery at Chatsworth is a separate business to the house, but the Thornbridge Brewery was the brainchild of Jim Harrison, who owns the hall with his wife, Emma. Jim has gone into business with Dave Wickett of Kelham Island Brewery in Sheffield, who is half-owner of the project and bought the redundant 10-barrel brewing kit from Marston Moor in Yorkshire.

Dave recruited two young brewers, Martin Dickie, a graduate of Heriot Watt Brewing School in Edinburgh, and Stefano Cossi, a graduate of a similar school in Udine in northern Italy. They operate from a restored, stone-built carpenters shop in the grounds of the hall and use Maris Otter malts from Fawcetts and a vast range of hops that includes Bramling Cross, Goldings, American Chinook, German Hersbrucker and Czech Saaz.

The beers include Thornbridge Bitter (3.5 per cent), Lord Marples (4%, named after a former owner of the hall), a 4% Brock stout, a formidable 7.7% St Petersburg imperial stout, and Jaipur, an India Pale Ale of 5.9%, brewed with pale malt and Chinook hops, with a stunning tart orange fruit character, that has already won the Sheffield beer festivals champion beer award and a gold medal in SIBA Norths strong ale category.

Around 70 pubs are taking the beers and the brewery is now bottling them, complete with live yeast.

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