Thornbridge Brewery's Beer & Food--a Craft Union

Our Beer Sommelier, Maggie Cubbler, was recently treated to a visit at the lovely Thornbridge Brewery at Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire. She came out with a gorgeous Lamb Shank Shepherd's Pie recipe.

I recently had the fortune of finally getting to visit the fantastic Thornbridge brewery. I've been a fan of their beers since I first set foot in the UK, having had my mind blown by the glooorious Jaipur. Still killing it all these years later you better believe my liver did a little flip when I saw that the Beer Now conference agenda included an excursion to visit the brewery at Thornbridge Hall. We were warmly welcomed by a handful of their crew who so kindly stayed late into the eve to give us a brewery and barrel room tour, fantastic burgers and a free, open bar. (Sorry, not sorry).

I've always been impressed by Thornbridge's fine attention to detail. Indeed, while some have been more my cup of tea than others, I've never had a beer of theirs I didn't like. Consistency and consistenly stunning is the key to their craft and whether it's cask, bottle or keg, I'm a big fan.

Thornbridge is beyond amazing beer. There's an art, a love that fills these barrels (really, there is and it's called I Love You Will You Marry Me<). Not happy with having beer tell the story alone, the brewery has teamed up with Sheffield chef Richard Smith to create Craft Union--a beautifully photographed and expertly written beer and food book--so that food may also help express the Thornbridge journey from grain to glass.

I have been generously gifted a recipe from the book to share with you today--the Lamb Shank Shepherd's Pie. This to-die-for dish was originally paired with the cask ale Black Harry but would also be great with the gorgeous Wild Raven or, why not, the intense Saint Petersburg. Pour a glug or two into the pan while you're cooking it for an extra shot of Thornbridge! 

Thanks again to the fine folks at Thornbridge Brewery. I can't wait to see what you're brewing--or cooking--up next!

Lamb Shank Shepherd's Pie

Serves 8


For the filling

130g carrots,diced

200g celeriac, peeled and diced

200g onions, diced

100ml olive oil

6 lamb shanks (save the bones)

salt and pepper to taste

500g lamb mince

1 bulb garlic

1.5 litres lamb stock

3 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs rosemary

1 bay leaf

100ml balsamic vinegar

 For the mash

1.5kg potatoes

2 garlic cloves, crushed

50ml milk

50ml double cream

25g butter

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 180?C

For the mash

Peel and quarter the potatoes and place in a pan, cover with water and add salt

Once cooked, drain the potatoes well.

Add the cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper and crushed garlic to a pain. Bring to a oil and simmer until the mixture thickens.

Mash the potatoes until smooth and add the cream mixture to it. Taste and season accordingly, then put to one side.

For the filling

Put a third of the olive oil in an oven tray and heat over medium high heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and brown then on all sides. Set aside.

Using the same tray, add another third of the olive oil and brown the lamb mince. Drain the fat off in a colander and set aside.

Add the last of the olive oil and all the vegetables to the same pan. Brown them gently over medium heat.

Pour the vinegar over the vegetables and reduce by half over high heat.

Return the shanks and the mince to the tray with the vegetables. Add the garlic, stock, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to the boil.

Cover the tray with aluminium foil and place it in the preheated oven for 2.5 hours or until the bone in the shank pulls out easily.

Season to taste.

Once finished, take the tray out of the oven and increase the heat to 210?C.

Pull the meat off the bone into strands, ensuring that all bones or sinew are removed. Remove the herb stalks and garlic. You can keep the shank bone for presentation, if desired.

Combine the shredded lamb and the mince mixutre. Top with mash.

Place the pie into the oven and cook, until golden brown, for 25-30 minutes. Check that the filling is heated through. Enjoy!

Top Tips from the Chef

A nice touch is to retain a little of the cooking juices and serve on the side along with sime honey-roast carrots and crushed peas.

Desiree and Limestone potatoes are good for mashing.