breweries design

More Visuals: Beer Family Trees?

Extract from the Thornbridge Family Tree
Detail from the Thornbridge Family Tree (PDF link below)

After the more theoretical graphs and charts of the last couple of days (which required all our reserves of bullshit to navigate), today’s experiment is in an altogether woolier mode.

Pete Frame is rightly revered for his Rock Family Trees — vast, sprawling, beautifully hand-scripted charts showing the movement of bass, keytar and Moog players from one band to another, or within particular ‘movements’. This approach doesn’t just work for bands, though — Frame also used it to map the Monty Python crew, hangers on and chums.

Inspired by his approach, we’ve come up with a chart showing the comings and goings of brewers at Thornbridge (PDF, 76kb) and its place in British craft brewing in the last seven years. Is it helpful? Does it help makes sense of the connections between breweries? We think it does, actually — it highlights Italian and Antipodean connections; and not entirely surprising links between Meantime Brewing, Marble, Dark Star, Brewdog and Thornbridge.

But now we’d really like to see an even bigger version covering more breweries. (Narrated by the late John Peel.)


  1. We chose Thornbridge because they seem to have a revolving door, with people coming and going as often as members of Morrissey’s backing band and
  2. because they’re fairly open about who’s arrived and who’s leaving.
  3. With only their blog, press releases and Wikipedia for reference, we’ve probably made some mistakes — sorry in advance! We’re happy to fix them, but it’s the approach we’re really testing here.
  4. If you work at any of the breweries pictured, you’re probably feeling weirded out right now. Sorry. If it’s any comfort, at least you know how Peter Hook felt when he saw this.
  5. Updates: 09:45, 03/05/2012 — added James Kemp; changed David Pickering qualifications to mention Heriot-Watt; corrected spelling of ‘Heriot-Watt’.

20 replies on “More Visuals: Beer Family Trees?”

It’s the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, and it’s the same as Heriot-Watt, being based there.

Consistency in spelling would be nice 😉
Heriot-Watt has one r

MPhys (OLE), Heriot-Watt 2001.

You should definitely do Kelham Island!
The idea for Thornbridge started with Dave Wickett’s friendship with Jim Harrison

We’ need a source for information, though — Kelham Island don’t seem to be as open about staff changes as Thornbridge!

I’ve seen the info you need written down somewhere.
I know most of it myself

Excellent post. Also helps to explain why certain breweries are favoured for guest ales by Thornbridge. (the other explanation being that the likes of Marble & Darkstar are just very good breweries).

However, I will post another blogpost by somebody else detailing some of the gripes you keep hearing about Thornbridge at the moment. Some of which is justified, some of which is a tad unfair.

Broadfordbrewer — maybe, although it might be quite a big job to do more, and accurately.

T_i_B — yes, we saw that post. Fascinating to see a brewery hit a point where it’s suddenly ‘too mainstream’ for some people. We’re still very excited to come across Thornbridge beers, but then that only happens to us every couple of months. I can imagine that, if you live in Sheffield, they might start to feel ubiquitous.

TBN — heh. Nice piece of self-mythologising there.

Not sure “too mainstream” is quite the right way to sum up the complaints that some drinkers round here have about Thornbridge.

Still, it’s quite a useful diagram you’ve done. If it included collaboration brews as well that would really top it off!

Actually, Rob Lovatt left Meantime to go to Camden, who sent him to Germany for a while to learn brewing. He was therefore the first brewer at Camden, but left them after a short time, going, I believe, to Sharps for a while before joining Thornbridge.

Ah, good insider knowledge. The official line in the Thornbridge press release is “…from Meantime” but those moves inbetween tie Camden into the ‘scene’.

The bit about Sharps is hearsay, I’ll admit, but the Camden interlude is 100% – I visited him there one day and had a look round just after he’d done his first couple of brews there. Afterwards we went for a couple of pints in the Southampton Arms – possibly a mistake since they were a Meantime account which Camden poached shortly after………..

Really good post – there is an interesting link I reckon between Thornbridge guests and erm, past acquaintances as also mentioned by T_I_B but also where they meet/interact afterwards.

Also, that you are ensconced miles away from the Thornbridge epicentre gives you both a unique angle and a slightly candyfloss appreciation of their status; that so many folks have so many positive and negative opinions on them has served bloggers well for a while now, deservedly I think….

I agree a kelham tree would be great, or what about an Eastwood and Sanders bush?

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