Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and Thornbridge Brewery find a new home for Burton Union sets

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) and Thornbridge have partnered on a special project to establish a Burton Union system at Thornbridge’s brewery in Bakewell, using Union sets from Marston’s Brewery in Burton-on-Trent.

This momentous collaboration between CMBC and Thornbridge Brewery has seen the two brewers work together to find a new home for some of the remaining Burton Union sets from Marston’s Brewery, which will be installed in a new Union system at Thornbridge’s Riverside Brewery, near the River Wye in Derbyshire. 

Discussions between CMBC and Thornbridge began in February this year, to look for a way to provide a new future for the Union sets at Marston’s Brewery, following their retirement earlier this year. CMBC gifted the set of Union barrels to Thornbridge and has also provided expert guidance and advice on maintenance and set-up for the Union system being developed at Thornbridge’s Bakewell-based brewery, which is set to be completed in May. The Union sets will be used for brewing special edition cask beers utilising this historic method first created in Burton-on-Trent in the 19th century. 

Emma Gilleland, Director of Brewing at CMBC, said, “This collaboration is a perfect showcase for the ways brewers can come together to deliver something special, for the love of beer and Britain’s incredible brewing heritage. We’ve been proud to support Thornbridge through the process by sharing our time and expertise to help set up their own Union system, and we are confident they will be fantastic custodians for our Union sets. 

Rob Lovatt, Head Brewer at Thornbridge Brewery, said, “This project is a dream come true for Thornbridge, and we’re grateful to CMBC for their generosity in giving these Union sets to us to brew with going forwards. While there are challenges yet to get the system up and running, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to preserve these beautiful icons of British brewing. Every process, detail and recipe change in a Union system has an effect on the beer’s flavour, and I’m excited to see what we can create with the new system here in Bakewell.” 

Mark Newton, Cooper at Marston’s Brewery, Burton, said: “It’s been a huge privilege to have spent so many years caring for and maintaining these historic sets at Marston’s Brewery, and I’m so pleased to have been part of the CMBC team working with Thornbridge to help them prepare for setting up their own Union System. It’s heartening to know that, alongside the set we are preserving at our brewery, our Union sets will have a new home with the brilliant brewers at Thornbridge. 

CMBC have invested in the preservation of one of the remaining Union sets at Marston’s Brewery, which will be on display to celebrate the brewery’s heritage and remarkable history of the Burton Union system. It is expected the preservation work will be completed by the end of May and is being overseen by CMBC’s expert cooper before he begins his retirement.