Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
Graham Clark
Features Writer
3:00 AM 30th April 2022

Thwaites - The Sweet Smell Of Success

I hope I never loose my sense of smell. Aromas take me back to many special times and places and always jog my memory.

Take for example, the intoxicating and sweet smell of Jasmine. It transports me to Italy in May time, whilst the honeyed scent of bougainvillea places me firmly in France in the summertime.

Blackburn might not have the allure of Tuscany or the glitz of the south of France, but it does however have a special aroma that always reminds me of the city.

Inside the new brewery
Inside the new brewery
It's the scent of malt emitting from Thwaites Brewery that filled the air in Blackburn, when the company was based in the city centre.

There was no need for a sign saying 'Welcome To Blackburn' as the old brewery with its big red neon 'Thwaites' name emblazoned across the huge tower building stood proudly on the eastern gateway to the city. You knew you had arrived in in the city.

Iron statue
Iron statue
Since 2017 the brewery and head office are situated in a pleasant countryside site on the outskirts of the city, where the visitor is met with an iron sculpture: an old carriage being pulled by the horses. Although I did not know beforehand, horses and carriages are still used at various show events throughout the year, plus special heritage days at the Thwaites pubs.

The Shire horses
The Shire horses
The four Shire horses with locally inspired names such as Wainwright and Ribble are housed in their own stables and are tendered by two full time draymen. Apparently the horses are so busy with appointments they even have their own diary!

Whilst this all may appear to be looking back to the past I got the impression it was more to do with the company's proud heritage. Everyone I met during my visit had a sense of pride and being part of a big family run business.

The smell of malt is still there in the modern brewery which hit my nose when touring the malt store and fermenting tanks. Memories of the many times I have enjoyed in Blackburn.

On an environmental level I was impressed to discover that all the used leftover malt was fed to the horses. Electric vehicle charging points had been installed in the staff car park with an updated car policy to encourage staff to opt for fully electric cars. The company buys from British suppliers and wherever possible sources local products and services.

The Millstone, Mellor
The Millstone, Mellor
As the company also runs a portfolio of larger pubs or inns, typically with twenty to forty bedrooms, it felt only right to sample their hospitality at the nearby Millstone in the charming hilltop village of Mellor.

The seventeenth century coaching inn was full of character - sloping floors, a twisting staircase and low ceilings caught my eye, along with the crackling open wood fire that welcomed me as I entered. After walking on the nearby hills or along the Ribble valley it's a perfect spot to rest any aching bones or feet.

The food menu had all the traditional favourites, such as steaks, burgers, pies and my favourite Thwaites beer battered Fish and Chips served with thick cut chips, mushy peas and a pint of their best bitter to wash it all down - perfection.

The Inn has twenty three modern bedrooms that range from County Double Rooms to spacious character rooms. I was pleased all the rooms stood out from the mass marketing blandness that you often witness. The interesting design of my County Room came with home made biscuits and there were local paintings hanging on the bedroom walls.

Inside the Millstone
Inside the Millstone
After a great night's sleep the hearty Lancashire breakfast was copious enough to satisfy any appetite.

As I reluctantly tore myself away from the open fire, lunchtime diners were just starting to arrive, along with members from the local ladies walking group. “It is the first time I have been out of the house since lockdown” an eighty year old customer said to me.

“The first place I wanted to come to was The Millstone as the food is good, the people friendly and you get the locals coming in all the time, I love it here” she proudly continued.

I could not have put it any better myself and with the aroma from the fire and the malt creating its own Blackburn fragrance I headed back across the Pennines with some wonderful memories.

The Millstone, Church Lane, Mellor, Blackburn BB2 7JR