Derbyshire drinkers are toasting the return of real ale – as new figures show the county is leading the way in local brewing.
Hops are hipper than ever and the UK’s real ale renaissance is responsible for a 70-year brewing high.
According to the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) there are now 1,000 breweries in the UK - more than at any time since the 1930s – and more breweries in Derbyshire than anywhere else in the country.
A decade ago the county had just half a dozen breweries - now it has reached 40 with a 41st under construction. No other county in the UK can match that number per head of its population.
It’s a trend worth raising a glass to so to find out more we visited the Raw Brewing Company, in Staveley.
The business was set up by David Hemstock, 35, a former IT project manager who began creating real ale as a hobby in his garage before establishing Raw in May 2010,
The brewery boasts a range of finely brewed beers including Blonde 3.9 per cent Pale Ale, Dark Peak 4.5 per cent Stout and Grey Ghost 5.9 per cent IPA all made using only natural ingredients.
Business is booming and David can not keep up with demand so hopes to expand next year but added: “I don’t want to get too big though as I enjoy the hands on brewing.
“I enjoy getting my hands dirty not sitting in an office.”
He added: “My drinking style dictates the way I brew can be a bit more adventurous and extreme at times with ingredients not afraid of chucking a few sacks of hops in.”
David, who grew up in Clowne but now lives in Barlborough, said real ale was appealing to a younger generation of drinkers looking for more flavoursome and interesting beers.
He said: “The duty relief brewers receive has been significant and helps save money, allowing small breweries to compete with the bigger guys but I think people are more bothered about where their products come from now which has seen a surge in farm shops and organic food.”
He added: “I talk to customers all the time, they would rather come out and drink a couple of pints of quality beer than binge on rubbish.
“Cost is a factor too as local real ale is cheaper as it’s not been travelling round the world.”
Raw produces 80 casks a week – or 20 brewers barrels. The business has six core ales but has created 45 different styles.
David’s favourite is Grey Ghost, named after his dog, an American hopped IPA with citrus and grapefruit flavours.
He said: “Running your own business is hard work but the reward is you’re doing it for yourself and to be able to produce something people enjoy that is a big bonus.
“I never get fed up when someone comes up to me and gives me feedback.”