The Lake District is home to a fabulous range of locally produced food and drink, including a dazzling variety of real ales! Whether you've a passion for craft beer, or are simply curious to sample something different while you're on holiday, we've pulled together some of the best names and brewery experiences to look out for around the area!
Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley Mill Yard, Staveley
Hawkshead Brewery started out life in 2002 in a barn at the head of Esthwaite Water. After quickly outgrowing the site, it moved to its current home, a former wood turning mill in Staveley, where you can sample its superb range of beers along with a delightful selection of tapas dishes in the Beer Hall. This impressive space overlooks the brewery through large glass windows, and if you'd like to know more about the brewing process, you can catch a scheduled tour of the brewery at 1pm each day - visit Hawkshead Brewery's website for details.
We've a superb range of cottages to choose from nearby in the South East Lake District.
Jennings Brewery, Cockermouth
Originally founded in the village of Lorton in 1828, Jennings is now based in the northerly market town of Cockermouth, and uses pure Lakeland water from its own well for brewing. Brewery tours take place between Wednesday and Saturday from February through to December, and its popular labels, Cumberland Ale, Jennings Bitter, Sneck Lifter and Cocker Hoop, can be found in pubs and inns across Cumbria. Spend the rest of your day exploring this lovely historic shopping town, and find out about poet William Wordsworth's childhood at Wordsworth House!
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Keswick Brewing Co., Keswick
A small craft brewery founded in 2006, Keswick Brewing Company is well worth a visit if you're staying in Keswick, and is believed to be on the site of a previous brewery dating back to around 1875! It is situated in the heart of Keswick, so a visit makes a perfect addition to a day of shopping, or could be combined with a gentle walk down to the lake foreshore near the Theatre by the Lake, and on to Friar's Crag and Strandshag Bay for stunning views along Derwentwater!
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Hesket Newmarket Brewery
Tucked away in the beautiful North Lakes village of Hesket Newmarket, Hesket Newmarket Brewery was set up in 1988, at which time its beers were made exclusively for the local pub, the Old Crown. When the then owners announced that they were retiring in 1999, the brewery became a co-operative run by a group of real ale enthusiasts! Operating from a barn, the brewery has also been visited twice by Prince Charles! Tours can be arranged for weekday evenings, and are accompanied by a meal and beer tastings at the neighbouring Old Crown. Advance booking essential.
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The Lakes Distillery, Bassenthwaite
And while it isn't strictly a brewery, we couldn't finish our roundup of tours without mentioning The Lakes Distillery, a world-class visitor attraction and producer of a variety of flavoured vodkas and gins, and whiskey! Originally a Victorian cattle farm, the distillery offers a unique day out. Take a tour of the distillery, enjoy a guided tasting session, indulge with lunch, afternoon tea or supper at The Bistro, and take part in a 'meet the alpaca' experience (booking advised).
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Hidden breweries and microbreweries... and where to find them!
There are, of course, many other breweries that don't provide tours, and lots of smaller microbreweries, often tucked away next to the inns and pubs that created them! Some supply pubs, inns and shops across the Lake District, while others brew exclusively for their customers. Here are some names to look out for!
Unsworth's Yard Brewery, situated in the pretty South Lakes village of Cartmel. Unsworth's Yard is home to Cartmel Cheeses, a kitchenware and fine wine shop, and a five-barrel microbrewery. The brewery can be viewed through large windows from the tasting room bar and shop!
The Wild Boar, Crook, where The Brewhouse is run by master-brewer Tim Bloomer of the Fell Brewery. Here you can cosy up with a drink by the fire and see the microbrewery itself behind an adjoining glass door. For something a little unusual, try out the Smoked Porter, a rich, dark ale, made with malted barley which is smoked on site in the Wild Boar Smokehouse!
The Strands Brewery, Nether Wasdale, which is based at The Strands Inn near Wastwater. Its brewers welcome interested visitors to see the brewery and learn more about the beer-making process, and while you stop at the Inn for a sample or two, you'll be sure to want to tuck into a hearty meal from the food menu! Take a look at our cottages in surrounding Wasdale.
The Black Bull in Coniston, where you can stop off after a hard day's walking for refreshments created by the neighbouring Coniston Brewing Co.
Beckstones Brewery, near Black Combe, a popular walk in the southwestern Lake District. The brewery is based in an old flour mill, and is supplied by its own spring. Its beers are available at the neighbouring Punch Bowl Inn, where you'll find a warm welcome, a pleasant beer garden, and delicious homemade meals.
The Drunken Duck Inn, near Ambleside, where you can sample the delights of the pub's Barngates Brewery and enjoy meals of the highest quality. It's surrounded by great walking too! Why not remain close by booking a cottage in Ambleside?
The Royal Barn in the centre of Kirkby Lonsdale, a beautifully finished building that opened its doors in 2016 to serve craft beers from around the world, including those from its own established brewery, Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery Co.
The Brewery Tap in Ennerdale, which serves excellent food, hosts regular events, and has its own brewery, Ennerdale Craft Brewery, next door.
The Watermill, Ings, which serves a choice of real ales brewed on the premises under the name Windermere Brewing Co.
Fell Bar, Kendal and Penrith, where you can sample craft beer from Fell's own Cumbrian brewery, based in Flookburgh.
Cumbrian Legendary Ales, craft-brewed beers created at the Old Hall Brewery on the shores of Esthwaite Water, and served at the brewery's own pubs, the Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater and Dockray Hall, Penrith.
Wherever you choose to spend your time in the Lake District, there's almost certainly a brewery or microbrewery nearby waiting to be discovered! If you haven't yet booked your next break in the Lakes, you can find your perfect holiday getaway using our online search facility.
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