The yeast in the local economy

I’m up in Derbyshire this week and having a bit of an explore. While I don’t think you could say the economy is booming, there are some really interesting things going on. Yesterday I popped into the excellent Thornbridge Brewery which is on an industrial estate just outside Bakewell.

The estate is a ramshackle collection of buildings some of which date back to 1777 and Arkwright’s time but you can tell that it had its heyday in the mid twentieth century. There are the tell-tale corrugated metal half cylinders of a wartime battery factory — now being used to make bespoke log cabins of all things.

Amongst the tatty sheds is a shiny new industry — beer. Thornbridge started at Thornbridge Hall up the road in 2005 but moved here for more space. They needed that because in their first year they had a golden moment — creating a beer that won a number of competitions and they simply couldn’t make enough of — Jaipur.

Nine years later and they still can’t make enough so they’re still expanding. According to my guide, success is down to continuously inventing new beers — my favourite is Sequoia — and keeping quality super high. They’re also working on some very odd sounding collaborations with the Brooklyn Brewery and Anchor Steam. Add to that some real branding nouse, modern distribution and logistics and a healthy tax break in their early days and you have a rapidly growing and successful business.