Brampton Brewery - Chesterfield's micro brewery
Amber Locke visits one of the new micro-breweries that are now flourishing in the county
There are now over 30 micro-breweries in the Peak District and Derbyshire and one of the newest to join the burgeoning trend is Brampton Brewery in Chesterfield. Located in the former East Midlands Electricity Board site on the Chatsworth Business Park on Chatsworth Road, Brampton Brewery was set up just a year ago and resurrected the name of a previous brewery originally located just 200 yards away from the new site.
To own a brewery had been a life-long dream of Chris Radford's and when he took redundancy from his IT job with the Royal Mail he decided that this was the moment when he should try to realise it. Not only was Chris born and bred in Chesterfield, he was also born in a pub, the Royal Oak at Tupton. Family legend goes that he was born just in time for last orders - as his father shouted 'time' in the bar!
After leaving his job he approached businessman John Frederick of Frederick's Ice Cream in Chesterfield as he knew he owned a vacant building on Chatsworth Road. John was inspired by the idea and they set about planning a brewery. Chris trained at Brewlab at Sunderland University and the dream of the 'new' Brampton Brewery began to take shape. The resulting business is a venture between a team of local businessmen and real ale enthusiasts which includes: Chris Radford (MD and Head Brewer at Bramton Brewery), John Frederick, John Hirst, David Hattersley and Jon Leeming.
The town of Chesterfield has a great brewing heritage and the good quality well water deep beneath the town originally made it an ideal location. At one time the town had three breweries and was the second largest brewing town in Derbyshire, Derby being the largest. The Brampton area was famous for three industries: the brick-works, pottery (a type of glazed earthenware called 'Brampton ware') and brewing. In its heyday the previous Brampton Brewery was a cornerstone of the local community and produced almost 30,000 gallons of beer a week.
There is no record of when the original Brampton Brewery was built but it is known that it was in existence in 1839. The company had an eventful life but the beers were always highly popular and as the brewery prospered it continued to expand its production facilities. It brewed a variety of beers including Nut Brown, Golden Bud and Derbyshire Extra Strong Ales, IPA, Extra Double Stout and Light Luncheon Ale and at one point it had its own bottling plant, 22 horses for delivery, 142 public houses either owned or leased by the brewery, 10 shops, 143 cottages and even a wine, spirit and cigar department which was added in 1893.
In 1902 it was partly destroyed by fire. Re-built on a new adjacent site it became the first electrically driven brewery in the country. Over the following 50 years there were various changes of ownership and the company's fortunes fluctuated. In June 1955 the last Brampton brew was produced and the premises put up for sale. The brewery closed and buildings were demolished in 1984. This site on the West Bars roundabout is now occupied by B&Q.The original Brampton Brewery's logo depicted a well muscled arm holding up a brick hammer with the words 'Health' and 'Strength' and this same design has been used by the new Brampton Brewery. The image of the strong arm and hammer relates to the brickworks in the area and the 'Wasp Nest Brick Co' that was based there is even the inspiration for one the brewery's beer brands.
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On 16th October 2007 the 'new' Brampton Brewery made history with its first brew called 'Golden Bud'. It was the first Brampton ale to be brewed for over half a century and named after a brand brewed at the original Brampton Brewery. A year later and there are six different beers: Golden Bud - 3.8% abv, a very pale, hoppy and golden beer with grapefruit nose, citrus flavours and a slightly sweet aftertaste; Brampton Best - 4.2% abv, a classical standard session bitter brewed using only traditional English malt and hop combinations; Wasp Nest - 5% abv, a richly flavoured premium ale with a sting in the tail; Impy Dark - 4.3% abv, a delicately hopped beer packed with chocolate and roasted coffee aroma and flavours; Jerusalem - 4.6% abv, a smooth amber ale developed for St George's Day; and Aspire, a special fruit beer made using natural pomegranate extract.
Aspire was developed for Chesterfield Borough Council's Market Festival, which takes place this year on 30th October and 1st November, and Garden of Light event. The unique recipe was inspired by the town's crest which bears the emblem of a pomegranate tree and the name of the beer comes from the town's motto 'Aspire'. This novel beer is delicately flavoured with a subtle sweetness of pomegranate which balances out the bitterness. Another beer developed by Brampton Brewery was a 'festival special' beer made for the 2008 Derby Beer Festival called 'Battling Butt-head', named for the Derby ram.
Brampton's beers have rapidly grown in popularity and have been winning awards and accolades at many local beer festivals. These include the Mild of the Festival Award for Brampton Mild and The Drinker's Choice Award for Golden Bud at the 2008 Chesterfield Beer Festival and a first place for Impy Dark and a third place for Golden Bud at the Leicester CAMRA beer festival 2008.
If you'd like to try some of the Brampton Brewery beers they are on tap in the Rutland in Chesterfield town centre, the Grouse at Brampton, the Hare and Hounds at Barlow, the Woodside at Ashgate, the Bull's Head at Holymoorside and the Fiddler's Rest at Bolsover. They can also be found regularly as guest ales in many local pubs from Chapeltown up to the north of Sheffield and to Nottingham, Derby and Burton upon Trent in the south.
Brampton Brewery has its own special club - the 'BBC' (the Brampton Brewery Club) - which you can join for a small fee. Membership entitles you to free quarterly tastings at the brewery, a branded pint pot, 10% discount on off-sales and merchandise, a monthly newsletter, exclusive excursions (often on an original 1970s Chesterfield Transport single decker bus) and a members only polo shirt - just too good to miss!
For details contact Brampton Brewery Ltd, Unit 5, Chatsworth Business Park, Chatsworth Road, Chesterfield S40 2AR Tel: 01246 221680 / 07794 288504 Website: www.bramptonbrewery.co.uk