The Lake District is famous for many reasons. Outstanding natural beauty, unspoilt dramatic scenery, superb hiking & cycling routes and perhaps one other thing… Beer. For the ale enthusiast, the Lakes is certainly something of a treasure trove, bursting at the seams with excellent traditional pubs serving beer produced by the region’s many celebrated breweries.
If quenching the thirst you worked up on a long trek over the fells with a hand-pulled pint of Lakeland’s finest ale sounds like your idea of heaven, then you really should consider visiting one (or several) of the breweries operating throughout the Lakes, or perhaps even taking a brewery tour. Take a look at the Hawksmoor’s run down of the best breweries to visit in the Lake District!
Only five miles away from our B&B in Windermere, the Hawkshead Brewery is an ideal starting point for a brewery tour of the Lakes. Bristling with awards, this is one of the most well respected breweries in the Lakes, so don’t miss out.
The leisurely walk over the dales from Windermere to Staveley, where the brewery is located, is quite enjoyable and fairly easy going. Great news for those who’d like to seize an opportunity to enjoy the beers on offer rather than drive!
An ideal spot to stop off for a pint and a bite to eat, the brewery serves an interesting selection of ‘English style tapas’ to compliment the rather extensive range of ales on offer in their ‘beer hall’. Of course, there’s a shop where you can buy some bottles to take home. There really is a lot to choose from, so don’t be scared to ask their staff for some recommendations, they’re always keen to talk beer!
If you’re a real aficionado then we’d thoroughly recommend the popular brewery tour, which runs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, giving you an insightful look into the processes and practices that go into creating some of Hawkshead’s famous brews. It’s best to book ahead, so check the Hawkshead website beforehand.
Recommended Pint – Hawkshead Bitter, 3.7%
Whilst you’re there we’d suggest you try a pint of their flagship ‘Hawkshead Bitter’. Pale and hoppy, it’s a real thirst quencher, ideal for those warm summer days spent hiking. Also, at 3.7%, this award winning beer isn’t overpowering, so you can easily enjoy a pint (or maybe two) over lunch.
About twenty five minutes drive from the Hawksmoor, Coniston Brewery doesn’t offer formal tours as such. However, the friendly chap I spoke to when I called to enquire informed me that if you catch them on a quiet day, then they’re usually happy to host a small handful of guests for an informal tour around the brewery. If you’re planning to head over with the intention of seeing the brewery itself, then we suggest ringing ahead just to make sure it’s okay! You may be one of the few lucky enough to be privy to an exclusive tour of Coniston Brewery. Just don’t tell everyone, alright?
Despite not offering official tours, we felt that Coniston Brewery was worth a mention, simply because their beers are truly excellent! You can find their beers all over the Lakes, and the Black Bull pub, just a short walk from the brewery, has a number of Coniston beers available of cask.
Recommend Pint – Old Man Ale 4.2%
Named after the imposing fell, the Old Man of Coniston that overlooks the town, this ruby coloured beer has a really strong fruity aroma. With a light malty taste and some hints of toffee thanks to the roasted barley used when brewing, this is a classic English ale that is definitely worth a try.
You certainly won’t be walking to Jenning’s Brewery if you’re staying at the Hawksmoor, but it can be reached by car. The drive up to Cockermouth is approximately 50 mins, but we think it’s worth it to visit this excellent brewery!
Jenning’s offer a very thorough tour of their premises that’s sure to satisfy even the most hardened of ale fanatics, who’ll be keen to see the time-honed traditional methods still in use by Jennings to create their range of ales. You’ll find out how they brew their beers on this guided tour, which of course ends in the brewery’s own bar, the Old Cooperage, where you’ll be treated to plenty of samples. A very hearty post-tour lunch is available if you prebook and there are also evening tours with a meal available. The tour schedule varies throughout the year, so check out the Jenning’s website in advance.
Recommend Pint – Sneck Lifter 5.1%
This is a reddish ale with a variety of strong and very rich flavours, guaranteed to satisfy those who prefer their beers a little on the stronger side. The unusual name comes from traditional northern dialect. Sneck is a door latch and ‘sneck lifter’ meant a person’s last sixpence that allowed them to lift up the ‘sneck’ of a pub door for one final pint, hopefully meeting somebody generous enough to get another one or two in!
As it’s quite strong, the designated driver might want to stay away from this and perhaps take a bottle home instead. However, passengers can feel free to indulge and we suggest you do!
We hope you enjoyed our guide to just a few of the many breweries throughout the Lake District. There are many more producing a wide variety of great traditional ale and some that offer tours. If you’re staying at the Hawksmoor Guest House and would like to know about some of your favourite Lake District breweries, then don’t hesitate to ask a the reception. You never know, we might be able to point you in the direction of pub pulling your favourite pint!