Tour a little brewery making a big noise

Sixty barrels a day: Brewer Ben Wood, aged 25, at Thornbridge Brewery
Sixty barrels a day: Brewer Ben Wood, aged 25, at Thornbridge Brewery
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Bananas and bubblegum...

My nose is buried in a glass of swirling ale and I’m inhaling, as instructed.

Yes, I’m getting it... that hit of Bazooka Joe.

I hate beer, but as I taste it seems I’m joining the growing fem-ale army.

Thornbridge Brewery’s Versa, a creamy, slightly sweet German-style wheat beer,is turning me on to real ale, the drink soaring in popularity 100 years after its decline. UK breweries numbered 3,000 in 1910, 77 in 1975 and 1,100 today.

Thornbridge launched just five years ago in an outbuilding at Thornbridge Hall, home of Jim Harrison, beer-lover, engineering boss and husband of A4E’s Emma.

The brand now employs 29, turns out 60 barrels a day has won tons of awards and sells around the world.

It even sells in Waitrose – the selection there is expanding soon – and keep it quiet but Thornbridge is “in talks” with “a chef famed for his innovation.”

And all from Jim’s fantasy of running his own little brewery, a dream helped to fruition by city real ale supremo Dave Wickett, who died this year.

I’m on a brewery tour which Thornbridge now run twice a week at their base on a Bakewell industrial estate, with marketing manager Alex Buchanan, ex prison service, old school pal of Jim’s, beer-lover.

For £7.50 you get the full, fascinating tour, meet brewers who are such beer geeks they make home brew too, and four beers to quench your curiosity.