Visited on: Sunday 28th January 2018
In many ways the Whaley Bridge Brewery and the Whaley Bridge Tap House typify a modern movement that is ever gaining pace. In this case the person involved is Michael Wilde. Formerly a freelance ceramics restorer specialising in 16th-18th century pottery, he was used by top auction houses in London. He received a home brew kit as a Father’s Day present and thereafter was hooked.
Six months later he decided to make beer on a larger scale and took the plunge. Having got the brewing bug he needed experience yet rather than to go down the well established route of attending a commercial brewing course he decided to go it alone.
This he achieved by reading a lot and seeking assistance from friends although on his own admission a lot of beer was chucked way in the process.
This ethos of self sufficiency extended to his first brewing equipment, most of which was made by Michael himself. He described it as a nano-brewery, which is pretty small, much less than a barrel’s (bbls) capacity. Established in 2011, he started brewing in January 2012, and the brewery was found at the rear of his house. After perfecting some recipes he achieved a regular outlet in the Drum & Monkey in Whaley Bridge, thus giving his beers some badly needed exposure.
He later increased the size of the equipment. Then towards the end of 2014, a complaint was received from one of his neighbours regarding the location of the brewery and it was destined to be shut down. The first half of 2015 was spent searching for new premises. Finally a suitable place was found at Furness Vale, just north of Whaley Bridge. During this time Michael made some beer at Cryptic Brewery in Stockport.
He purchased a new plant of 6 barrels (bbls) capacity and the first brews came from it during September 2015. In 2016 he acquired the services of a professional design company and all the publicity material, pump clips and bottle labels received a new look. Ever moving forwards, he then started looking at a premises for his own pub.
So it was, and the Whaley Bridge Brewery Tap Room opened its door for the first time at 15.00 on Saturday 21st October 2017. The 150-year old former florist’s shop is fairly small and certainly fits the criterion of being a micro-pub. It is to be found just south of the compact town centre, next to Wild’s butcher shop.
Linda and I visited on a cold January Sunday in the belief that the pub opened at 15.00. However the sign on the door said 16.00. No problem, as we retired to the nearby White Hart and came back a little bit later.
The brewery’s blue van was outside when we arrived back. Inside, there was one other customer and Michael behind the bar when we entered. A quick glance around revealed it to be a light and bright pub even though it was dusk. The entrance door is on the left and inside the main seated area is to the right with an L-shaped fitted and cushioned bench around two walls under the windows. On the left is a shelf with some stools.
The bar counter is wooden and there are some stools in front. The walls are mainly green with one being yellow. They are mostly bare of adornments save for one framed picture. My personal thought is that some more illustrations, posters, photographs, etc., would add to the ambience; I’m sure it will come with time. Although there is no evidence of the pub lacking atmosphere. On the way to the toilets at the rear you pass through another small room with yellow walls which has a sofa with a low wooden table and small stools.
There are two hand pumps and they normally dispense at least one Whaley Bridge Brewery beer, sometimes two. When we visited they had one called WBB #047 Fruity Golden Pale (4.6%). Obviously a trial beer, it made me wonder whether Michael kept his old small brewery when he up-sized. The other cask beer was Intrepid (Bradwell, Derbyshire) Blonde (4.0%). There were also two keg beers.
They also sell a range of unusual artisan gins. There is a selection of wines, including Prosecco. Also offered are bottled beers. There are soft drinks and snacks in packs, but no other food.
This is a lovely little pub selling beers from an excellent brewery. It shouldn’t be missing if you are in this part of the Peak District.
Whaley Bridge Tap House, 20 Old Road, Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire SK23 7HR.
Hours: Monday-Tuesday: Closed; Wednesday-Thursday: 15.30-22.30;
Friday: 15.00-22.30; Saturday: 15.00-23.00; Sunday: 16.00-22.30.
The pub is five minutes walk from Whaley Bridge railway station. This is on the Manchester to Buxton line.
The frequency is hourly Monday to Sunday. The journey takes about 35 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly. It is around 25 minutes from Stockport and 15 minutes from Buxton.
An alternative route is by bus route 199 from Manchester Airport via Stockport continuing on to Buxton.
It runs every half hour Monday to Saturday. In the evening and on Sunday and Bank Holidays it is hourly.