Only just over an hour away from Manchester, Buxton is in the heart of the Peak District and surrounded by hills and rolling countryside. But more importantly, it’s home to Buxton Brewery (and their tap house) and is very close to Thornbridge Brewery in nearby Bakewell, which is why we decided to spend a weekend in the town.
We kicked off with the Thornbridge Brewery tour on Friday afternoon. They run tours twice a week and you do need to book in advance. It costs £7.50 which includes your glass and a couple of a free drinks.
On arrival to their site (£30 in a taxi from Buxton), we walked through the shop, paid and then made our way to the bar where we were offered a half. They’ve got two kegs and one cask available along with a few bottles in a fridge. Bayern, I Love You Will U Marry Me? were on keg during our visit and Sequoia was on cask.
After a beer, the tour started with an intro to the brewery. They were originally set up within Thornbridge Hall when the owners bought the site and brewing started at its current location a few years later. The older site is still used for experimenting with new brews.
We then got on our hi-vis vests and went out back to the brewery.
Throughout the tour, it is obvious that this is a brewery that hasn’t shied away from spending cash. All of the equipment looked very modern and technology played a huge part in the brewery process.
This was most evident in the control room where you could see the computer systems which keep the tanks under control and monitor everything.
They’ve also got their own bottling line to keep everything in house and plenty of storage room.
Part of the tour took us over to a second building where they’re currently storing a new collaboration with Brooklyn Brewery – known as Serpent. It’s ageing away in Bourbon barrels and although they’re keeping their cards close to their chest, they’re aiming to release it soon. The sheer amount of barrels was an impressive sight to see!
After the tour, we went back to the bar and shop area where we made some bottle purchases and sampled a few more beers. It would’ve been nice for more beers on keg/cask, but as they don’t open very often I can see why they only offer a couple. It was an interesting tour as some work was still ongoing in the brewery – most other tours I’ve been on seem to be when they’re not too busy. In total, we were there for about two hours and had three halves each.
During the two and a half days we were in Buxton, the vast majority of our time was spent in Buxton Tap House mainly as a result of the sheer amount of choice – eight keg, five/six cask and a good selection of bottles.
The draught beers were all Buxton but the bottles featured a number of other UK and international breweries (including my beloved Mikkeller) and were all available to take away with a 20% discount.
The bar itself is spacious and modern and has a mix of seating including tables and chairs, and couches. It was also always fairly busy – probably due to the limited number of options in the town. Some food is also served – burgers (inc veggie option), sandwiches and some sides such as macaroni cheese and cheesy nachos.
The highlight of the weekend beer-wise was Yellow Belly – a Buxton Brewery collaboration with Omnipollo. It’s an 11% peanut butter and biscuit – without actually using either of those ingredients – stout with an amazing chocolatey smell and big, biscuity flavours which are just sensational. Wow. And I’m generally not a fan of dark beers. Coming in at £4.35 for 1/3, it’s not cheap but so worth it. Ross picked up a bottle to bring back but I think he’ll be holding on to that for a while!
Sadly, it looks like we picked the wrong date to visit as this Thursday they’re hosting an Omnipollo takeover! It would’ve been nice to sample more of theirs, but what can you do.
But, even without the additional Omnipollo beers, Buxton Tap House was great place to visit and with fairly regular trains to Manchester it’d be easy enough for a day trip – so go and visit!