With our 40th birthday on the horizon we’ve been taking the opportunity to introduce you to a few of our key suppliers. Last month we visited New Forest Ice Cream and this month it was the turn of Palmers Brewery, who supply our bars with a range of beers, wines and spirits for you to enjoy before or during a performance.
We couldn’t have picked a better day for our visit – we had blue sky and sunshine to enjoy on our drive through West Dorset’s rolling hills and stunning Jurassic coastline as we made our way to the lovely market town of Bridport.
On arrival we were greeted by Jamie Barrow, our host for the morning, before setting out on Palmers’ popular brewery tour. The Old Brewery has been in operation since 1794, meaning that Palmers are one of the few UK producers who are able to claim continuous production for over 220 years on the original site. Part of the brewery is still thatched – in fact Jamie tells us it is the only thatched brewery in the UK! It becomes clear that the building has changed little over time, and the picturesque water wheel, forged in 1879 at a Bridport foundry, is still turning. We are captivated by the old-fashioned charm of the place – you can just imagine the traditional horse-drawn brewery drays entering through the high stone archway to load up for a delivery. Of course these days deliveries are a lot more efficient, thanks to Palmers’ fleet of branded delivery lorries.
Inside, the original brewing equipment is still in situ alongside more modern technologies, and its somehow reassuring to know that the traditional methods and brewing process still remains. There are a few surprises too - we are informed that all water used in the brewing comes from a spring located on land owned by the Palmer family. The small but dedicated team led by Head Brewer Darren Batten are friendly and keen to share their knowledge with us, and we quickly realise that brewing is a complicated, precise and at times hazardous profession. Some rooms we aren’t allowed to enter at all due to the high levels of heat, steam or gases being emitted. We’re glad we are in safe and knowledgeable hands.
Five fine ales are brewed using the finest ingredients in the original Old Brewery at Bridport, and when our tour is over we are offered the opportunity to taste some of them. These included the ales you can buy on draught at Lighthouse - Palmers IPA, a malty ale with a delicious hop character, Dorset Gold, a lightly hopped, golden premium ale and 200, which is full bodied, rich and malty – Palmer’s flagship premium ale. All of them very different, all equally delicious – it’s not hard to see why these are award-winning ales. By this stage our designated driver Sara was beginning to feel like she’d drawn the short straw ….
It’s not just beer on offer though – Palmers Wine Store has a huge array of wines, cider and spirits for you to browse and purchase. We would thoroughly recommend a visit, especially if you’re looking for something a bit different to give as a gift. The Lighthouse team left with chinking bags and smiles on their faces – plus a greater understanding of the beers we serve behind our bars and how they are made.
We've more exciting plans afoot with Palmers for our 40th year - look out for details of our very own 40th birthday beer coming soon!