Thornbridge. Love `em or hate `em they certainly get people talking about beer. If brewing beer is an art, and if getting people arguing about whether art IS art or not is integral to art, then Thornbridge are at the forefront of their field. Locally, people are often happy to claim Bakewell` best brewers as Sheffield`s own (and oft best) whilst deriders will either proclaim a sour taste left on the palate by financially irregular ale (A4E ale, anyone?) or that `Thornbridge beers all taste the same` .Hopefully those who claim the former hate will also boycott other beers who`s owners offend (Marston`s this week, selling pubs to Satan`s own supermarkets) and I`ll happily argue the toss with the latter; Thornbridge beers are not all mega hopped loopy juice!
We are lucky in South-West Sheffield to have a plethora of easily accessible Thornbridge houses all of which procure ale of a standard that is the envy of most parts of the country. However, the average price of their beer is not the envy of our austere White-Rosed county, hovering around the £3.00 mark but, then again, their ABVs do tend to be `above average` too.
Jaipur may well be the flagship beer of the Bakewell brewing empire, still winning awards in its current Tesco-friendly guise, but THORNBRIDGE do merit further investigation beyond the 6% hop fests.
Brock – case-in-point here. This is a drinkable, tasty but ordinary, stout that is very sessionable given the ABV of 4.1%. It is a smooth badger-coloured brew that need not be nocturnal. (MIKE – 6.5)
Black Harry – again defies expectations but we do find this a bit too light and watery although it is pretty fruity. Just not my taste although it is another low strength ale (3.9%) that might appeal to some who prefer beers that do not pack a punch in the taste stakes. (MIKE – 4)
(Wild) Raven – O.K. , this is `typical` Thornbridge but a different colour. A beer drinker`s favourite oxymoron, a 6.6% Black IPA, and it is indeed hoppy. Better balanced than some of this kind I have sampled, Raven is maybe even better on keg, rare praise from this beer geek. (MIKE – 7.5)
St. Petersberg – banging beer that now weighs in at only 7.4% to swerve the `tramp tax` that was imposed. Previously it arrived at 7.7% but it still ought to make the Bakewell Empire proud. Tough to top as a sturdy Winter warmer. (MIKE – 8.5)
McConnel`s – this is a vanilla stout. The vanilla is fairly subtle but it certainly works well with the creaminess of this 5%er. (MIKE – 7)
Pollards – one of our very favourites, when in the mood. A rich winter beverage with its coffee and milk combination weighing in at 5% ABV. The coffee hit is prominent and quality. (MIKE – 8.5)
Other dark beers from Bakewell have previously been reviewed here in the form of Kacho, Thorny Goat and Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
To summarise, Thornbridge present a pretty impressive portfolio and they showcase a real range of dark beers. Give them a go over the festive season!