THE Northern Powerhouse minister made a visit to one of the oldest breweries in the country, based in East Lancashire.

Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry made the trip to Thwaites craft brewery, based in Blackburn, on the final leg of his third tour of the North since he was re-elected in 2016.

Mr Berry, who had previously been to visit the ‘innovators and makers’ of the North in Sheffield, Leeds and elsewhere in Lancashire, was taken on a guided tour of the Penny Street brewers.

The minister was shown around the complex by brewery bosses who revealed the company’s plan to move its base from Penny Street to a new development at Sykes Holt, on the A59 near Mellor Brook.

Work is well under way to move Thwaites, based in Blackburn for 210 years, into the £8million development.

At the end of the tour, two of the brewery’s Shire horses were driven out of one of their stables.

The minister even took the time to give one of the horses a pint of Thwaites beer.

Speaking at the end of the tour, Mr Berry said: “It has been fantastic.

“It’s great to come to a successful business here at the heart of East Lancashire.

“I have seen some amazing businesses during my tour of the North, who are investing more money to create more highly-paid jobs, particularly traditional brewers.

“The highlight of the entire tour is getting to feed a pint to one of the shire horses - the northern power horse.

“The visit has shown me that the North is growing faster than London, and here in Blackburn with Darwen there is a hugely successful business in the heart of Lancashire.”

Richard Bailey, CEO of Thwaites, said: “We have been able to talk about our plans to grow our business and continue to invest in the North West.

“We are very thankful for Jake’s support both as a minister for the North and for community pubs.

“We are investing in new offices in Mellor Brook and also investing a significant amount of money in a long-term project to make sure Thwaites continues to be successful in East Lancashire.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “It’s great to come out and see the new site for Thwaites and Brewery and to have a community pubs minister, who is investing £30m a year in the North region, visit the site.”