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Classic Beer of the Month January 2013: Thornbridge Saint Petersburg


Thornbridge Saint Petersburg, 7.4%

In 1790, a linen merchant named John Morewood bought a large country house named Thornbridge Hall in the Peak District.

Thornbridge St PetersburgA couple of centuries later, we know the house as the birthplace of Thornbridge Brewery, even though most of the brewing now takes place on a modern site a few miles away at Bakewell.

In its short existence, Thornbridge has enjoyed remarkable success, gaining an international reputation for its wide range of innovative beers and its attention to detail.

The brewery has been responsible for the outstanding Jaipur IPA, for a brilliant Cologne-style beer called Tzara, for a wonderful Vienna labelled Kill Your Darlings, and a highly-rated 'black IPA' known as Raven, among numerous ales and lagers.

It also produces one of the best imperial Russian stouts which, with a nod back to the hall's roots, it named Saint Petersburg.

The name is appropriate not just in being the main centre for imperial stout imports during the 18th century, but also for being the place where John Morewood made his money. It was linen he sold to merchants in the city that funded his £10,000 purchase of Thornbridge.

When created in 2005, this stunning dark beer rolled out at 7.7%. That has since been reduced to 7.4%, no doubt in view of the Government's misguided new duty threshold of 7.5%, which would have made the beer particularly expensive to produce. It's not been the only change to the beer, however. The ingredients, I'm told, are now rather different than they were at the outset.

Complex Hop Grist

Maris Otter pale malt joins dark crystal malt, chocolate malt, peated malt, wheat malt and roasted barley in the mash tun. Demerara sugar aids the fermentability and a complex hop grist of Warrior, Mount Hood, Sorachi Ace and Willamette provides the balance to all that cereal.

The net result is a deep garnet-brown beer with remarkable subtlety for its strength. Whiffs of dark chocolate permeate the perfumed, peppery-spicy aroma, with hints of orange emerging.

Pepper and orange feature in the delicately smoky taste which is a touch perfumed and mostly sweet, before a dry, nutty, scented finish, with more pepper and orange in evidence before bitterness from the roasted grains takes over.

Imperial stout has been one of the great re-awakened beer styles of the last ten years. It's brilliant to see so many now in production and Saint Petersburg is certainly one of the best.






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