There’s nothing quite like cracking open a quality beer to kick-start a holiday; perfect whether sitting outside in the sunshine or cosied up in a quirky bar with family and friends.
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 might even be able to catch a scheduled tour of the brewery – visit Hawkshead Brewery's website for details.
We've a superb range of cottages to choose from around Staveley.
Jennings Brewery, Cockermouth
Its popular labels, Atomic Theory, Night Vision, and Cumberland 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 while in the area.
View our selection of cottages in Cockermouth.
Keswick Brewing Co., Keswick
It's 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.
Browse our cottages in the heart of Keswick.
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 is essential.
View our cottages in and around Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck.
Lakeland Brewhouse, Ulverston
Lakeland Brewhouse (formerly Stringers Beer) is a microbrewery in Ulverston on the west Cumbrian coast making a range of great beer, with options like Plan B and Turbine Porter. But that isn't all there is to get excited about. They're powered by Cumbrian nature – wind, wave, hydro and solar energy - and call themselves a 100% renewably-powered brewery.
Take a look at our cottages around Ulverston.
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. Enjoy a tour of the distillery and 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).
View our properties around Bassenthwaite.
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 Carlisle Brewing Co. prides itself on creating 'proper beer for proper beer drinkers'. Run by husband-and-wife team Alain and Alison, they have a selection of core beers and ales, as well as specials that are only brewed now and again. Try it at their pub, The Spinners Arms, in Cummersdale.
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.
Fed up with brewing in their garage after Ulverston's only native brewery, Hartley's, had closed, the team behind Ulverston Brewing Co. finally decided to launch their own brewery and they now stock pubs across the region. A few of their beers’ names pay tribute to Stan Laurel, who was born in the town.
The Strands Brewery, Nether Wasdale, which is based at The Strands Inn near Wastwater. If you stop at the inn for a sample, you'll surely want to tuck into a hearty meal from the food menu too, and the team love their brewery so much that they now run a beer festival to look out for! Browse 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 their own microbrewery, Coniston Brewery.
The Drunken Duck Inn, near Ambleside, where you can sample the delights of the pub's Barngates Brewery and enjoy tasty meals – it's surrounded by great walking and beautiful views too! Barngates is lucky to have its own water supply, which adds its distinctive flavour to their brews. Why not remain close by booking a cottage in Ambleside?
The Royal Barn in the centre of Kirkby Lonsdale is a beautifully finished building that opened its doors in 2016 to serve craft beers from around the world, including those from its own already well-established brewery, Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery Co.
And finally, 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 collection of Lake District cottages.