Get some exercise as well as Derbyshire ales ...

Breweries and Micro-breweries of the Peak District and surrounding areas

Derbyshire ales.

There has always been a strong brewing tradition in the East Midlands. Some of the country's biggest names were established here - notably Bass and Marstons at Burton-on-Trent. Why? The water hereabouts has a reputation of having the perfect mineral composition for imparting a great flavour, particularly to pale ales and bitters.

But the growth of demand for fizzy keg bitter delivered using Carbon dioxide all but killed off the small local Peak District breweries. When I first came of age and was able to visit pubs, there was seldom a hand pump in sight. And even when there was, it was usually not connected to anything. The choice of beer was fairly limited, often being a choice between Lager, Double Diamond and other equally forgettable beers. Happily, thanks to the fine efforts of CAMRA throughout the country, beer drinkers were reminded that there were better alternatives - real ale, served from the hand pump (or jug).

One of the last bastions of real ale in the 1980s, when we moved to Derbyshire, was the Barley Mow at Kirk Ireton. There were no keg beers at all, no CO2 driven pumps. Just honest to goodness proper beer, served from a jug that was filled from a row of barrels. And an old lady, sitting by the fire, taking your money - proper money, not this new-fangled decimal stuff that had been introduced. She refused to budge and always worked in pounds, shillings and pence. Superb. It was time spent in this popular pub that kindled my taste for Derbyshire real ales.

But even then, Derbyshire and Peak District breweries producing real ale were a rarity. I can remember travelling miles to one of the first of the new wave of derbyshire micro-breweries at the John Thompson at Ingleby to sample their Derbyshire Ales brewed at the pub. I didn't think that it was great, but it was a shed load better than the fizzy crap sold in most pubs at the time. Gradually, pubs realised that the era of real ale had returned. Customers wanted proper beers, brewed with passion and brewed locally. Little by little, the microbreweries returned, like the Leatherbritches brewery at the Bently Brook Inn (1993) . Derbyshire Ales and Peak District Breweries were back on the map. Whim ales started also started brewing in 1993, producing the light and popular Hartington IPA with a characteristic floral flavour that seems to characterise the light coloured ales from the regon. Beautiful beer. But it wasn't until 2000 that things seemed to take off. For most of the 80s, we drank predominantly Whim's and Leatherbritches. Since the millenium, the trend for setting up microbreweries has continued at what seems to be an increasing rate with many new Peak District breweries starting, such as the Wirksworth Brewery, Edale brewery and Peak Ales.

Outside the Peak District, there are some fine ales brewed too. The Townes brewery (Lowgates, Staveley) and Kelham Island (Sheffield) brew lovely beers with a gorgeous caramel flavour. Sadly, Townes is hard to come by but is always available at the Speedwell at Staveley, which is where it is brewed.

Many of these Derbyshire breweries are quite happy to give tours.

Amber AlesRipley, Derbyshire
Based in the Amber Valley, south of the Peak District.
Buxton Brewery Company LtdBuxton, Derbyshire
Medium sized craft brewery.
Peak AlesBakewell, Derbyshire
Based in a renovated barn on the Chatsworth estate, bottled Peak Ales beers can be bought locally in Bakewell shops.
Thornbridge BreweryBakewell, Derbyshire
Rapidly expanding local brewery based in the heart of the White Peak at Bakewell and the nearby Thornbridge Hall.
Whim AlesHartington Buxton, Derbyshire
One of the pioneer micro-breweries of the Peak District following the resurgence of interest in Derbyshire real ales.
Wirksworth BreweryWirksworth, Derbyshire
Small capacity micro-brewery in the town of Wirksworth.

If you want a free listing for your Peak District, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire or East Midlands based brewery or microbrewey, send us your details here. If you would like an enhanced listing, let us know here - we will be happy to do that for £25 which covers our time uploading your picture, contact details, opening times and other information.

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