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Pioneering Thornbridge Brewery has worked with Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) to save a much revered Burton Union set - ensuring that a vital part of British Brewing history remains operational.


The Union System dates back to the 1800s and is a beautiful wood-barrel fermentation system that has been used continuously in the production of several traditional beers over the decades, primarily Marston's Pedigree in more recent times. Derbyshire based Thornbridge has now stepped in to save one of the sets, not only for its historic importance but also to utilise it in a modern way and continue to premiumise their innovative cask beer range.

The flagship Jaipur IPA will be first to be brewed on the kit, followed by other much-loved beers from their celebrated catalogue, together with new brews specifically for the Union kit and brewing collaborations.

The iconic Burton Union set with some of the Thornbridge team.,


Collaboration brews will be an integral part of its future, bringing together breweries with a keen sense of history who would like to help innovate with the system.


Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery, who has had a close relationship with Thornbridge for many years, was instrumental in negotiating the initiative. Garrett said: "When I heard that the unions were slated to go silent, I immediately thought that Thornbridge would be the perfect inheritors of this beautiful piece of British brewing heritage. I'm thrilled to provide the 'assist' on this historic play." 

Simon Webster, CEO and Co-Founder of Thornbridge Brewery, said: “To have the chance to brew on a small part of The Union is incredible for us. We are so grateful to be given this opportunity and will make sure that great beers are brewed on the Thornbridge Union. It will give us a chance to collaborate, innovate and create premium cask beer whilst providing a new showcase for this important piece of brewing history.”


CMBC announced the retirement of four active Union sets at Marston’s Brewery in January 2024. At the time CMBC stated: The four active Union sets at Marston’s Brewery have been used exclusively for fermenting Marston’s Pedigree ale in cask. Low volumes due to the decline of the UK cask market has meant that fermenting using the Union sets is no longer viable.  Beer from the Union sets was previously blended with beer from stainless-steel fermenters to deliver the best product quality for Marston’s Pedigree in cask. Low volumes due to the decline of the UK cask market has made a move to stainless-steel fermenters necessary, ensuring the quality of Pedigree cask remains at the high standard drinkers expect. 

Thornbridge Brewery is based at Riverside Industrial Estate, Bakewell and has been operating since 2005. Across the years the brewery has picked up over 350 domestic and international awards, including over 100 for their flagship Jaipur.



Beer Tours UK is all about celebrating cask beer and the rich heritage of British Brewing, so we propose to take an early trip to see this iconic survivor of Burton brewing history when it is up and running. Over the years we have enjoyed some excellent visits to Thornbridge and the outstanding inns of the Peak District and expect this trip to be popular - so early expressions of interest will be welcomed; please contact


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