THIEVES have stolen 600 bottles of craft beer from a Runcorn brewery.

The ale was taken from Norton Brewery, a unique micro brewery in the walled garden of ancient Norton Priory.

The beer was brewed by adults with learning difficulties as part of a learning and trade process initiated by Halton Council to bring them together and work as a team,.

It was stolen from a locked store which was last used on Friday.

Halton Clr Marie Wright, board member for health and wellbeing, said: "Not only is the ale brewed with tender love and care but the brewers are being offered a chance to learn a specialist skill which will improve their employability and give them socially valued roles."

The beer is not in the open market yet so if anyone sees a bottle with the distinctive label they are urged to contact the police.

It had been ordered by customers at farmers markets and festivals and was about to be distributed.

Unfortunately, those orders and the income it would generate for the team to do further activity is no longer available.

It is thought the thieves used a vehicle capable of carrying the ale weighing more than 330kgs, from the store.

Norton Brewery, opened by John Bishop in 2011, has been teaching the art of craft beer making to adults with learning difficulties, enabling them to measure, use small machinery and learn the brewing process from a master brewer.

The project is supported by many organisations, including being endorsed by CAMRA who recognise both the quality of the ale and the contribution people with disabilities make to the world of real ale The Brewery has been making a difference that counts to both the people who brew the beer and the customers it serves.

Norton Brewery also includes a bottling plant which provides further opportunities to learn new skills.

Anyone with information about the raid can call Cheshire Police on 101.