THWAITES aims to start commercial brewing at its new Ribble Valley home on Tuesday.

The first cask beers from its new £12million base at Sykes Holt near Mellor Brook should start being delivered to pubs two weeks later.

Brewing at the new site is starting a month ahead of schedule after a travellers’ invasion led to the end of production at its historic Blackburn home in May.

Bosses' plans to move the whole operation from the current Star Brewery on Penny Street next month were torn up after the travellers invaded, causing £100,000 of damage, ending beer production there after 211 years.

Building contractors Barnfield Construction and Thwaites staff immediately speeded up the move of the brewing area, lifting the fermenting lift vessels out and installing pipework over the past two months.

Test brewing started this week, and provided the resulting beer is up to scratch, production of the first commercial ales for the firm's 250 pubs, inns and hotels will start on Tuesday.

Thwaites head office, stables and famous shire horses will move from Blackburn town centre to Sykes Holt next month as planned.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said news of the imminent start of brewing was a boost to the borough and a reason to celebrate.

Head brewer Brian Yorston said: “We’ve worked flat out to get everything brought forward and we are now at a stage where we are doing test brews.

“We have to test every bit of the process until we are happy with the outcome.

“We are scheduled to start commercial brewing on Tuesday with the first beers from the new brewery going out to pubs a week later.

“If the beer isn’t perfect, we won’t put it into casks and sell it in pubs. We have very high standards, after all we have a reputation to live up to which is over 211 years old.”

Initially Mr Yorston and his team of four brewers will start by brewing Thwaites Best Cask, Nutty Black and beers from the firm’s seasonal range that changes every week.

They had to recover the company’s special strain of yeast from another brewery which had been using it to make Thwaites Smooth under licence after the lack of power since May destroyed all the yeast in Blackburn.

The beer range will expand over the next year to include Thwaites Original and a new core range of beers currently in development.

Thwaites director of pubs and brewing Andrew Buchanan said: “We are delighted to be back to brewing. We’ve been doing it for over 200 years, so it’s a craft we are particularly proud of.

“We were due to move everything to our new home in Mellor Brook next month but of course we had to come up with a new plan as the Blackburn site is still out of action.

“Thankfully, Barnfield Construction pulled out all the stops to get the brewery finished as quickly as possible so we have been able to bring that element forward.

“We are aiming to start brewing next week.

“The new brewery looks fantastic and it’s just what we need to create our next 200 years of history.”

Mr Yorston said: “We had a plan for the new site which started in February.

“It was all running to clockwork until the travellers got onto the Blackburn site.

“We’re really happy with how things are now, so we are just waiting for the fermentation and cooling processes to complete and then we will be able to taste the beer.

“The brewers are very excited about getting back to brewing. They are all very passionate about what they do,”

The new purpose-built brewery will be able to brew 1.5million pints a year, half that of the Blackburn site, but it will be some months before it achieves full capacity.

Each brew produces 6,000 pints.

Mr Evans, president of the Parliamentary Beer Group, said: “I look forward to raising a pint glass to celebrate the brewing of Thwaites beer in the Ribble Valley.

“This will be a a further boost to tourism in our area which is already a magnet for people who love their food and drink.

“This is yet another reason for them to visit the borough.”

Blackburn with Darwen regeneration boss Phil Riley said: “We wish Thwaites all the best in their new home.”

Thwaites beers have been brewed by other firms in the interim between Blackburn ending production and the Sykes Holt start-up.