Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Ale in the Lake District #2 - Tweedies & The Brown Horse

So, as previously blogged, the visit to Hawkshead brewery was great. Next we headed to Grasmere to complete the obligatory lakeside walk ending with a visit to Tweedies in the Dale Lodge Hotel. Now I had visited this place before remembering it as a great place to imbibe required refreshment.

Tweedies offered 8 relatively local cask ales (think Ilkley, Hardknott, Coniston, etc.) plus a couple of ciders. Bottles showcased more quality local fare plus a couple of kegs were on offer. The slate-floored interior is spacious yet cosy and the food was popular with the wealth of walkers therein.

All the ales were very well kept and the flight of thirds was a useful option. I particularly enjoyed the Pacific Voyage from the modestly-named Cumbrian Legendary Ales which was really quaffable. Fresh and quite zesty at 4.5%, this one of the best NZ-hopped brews I`ve had. I`ll have another.

Finishing off with a half of Mills & Hills, a collaboration between Fyne and De Molen, was ideal. On one of the three keg lines at 9.5%, this complex brew explained in deserved detail on a little chalk board and proudly pulled by the excellent bar manager. Very tasty and a nice little dessert ale. Tweedies has won CAMRA awards in the past and I'm sure it will gain more accolades in the future if our visit was anything to go by. Nice. Thank you.

Finally we bobbed into the Brown Horse Inn for the reason that it looked proper nice and it was close to Winster where we were staying. This roadside coaching inn is very food-orientated and clearly popular. Interestingly the Winster Valley brewery is based here and I quite enjoyed my pint of Lakes Blonde, I think it was, and it had some champagne in there apparently providing a distinctive taste. Nice to get quality real ale in a foody pub. Staff were friendly and accommodating although they were busy and we were not eating. Also the outside area had lovely views. Well worth a look.

The end of a little holiday but, as the Oscar Wilde quote on the bar of Tweedies said, "Work is the curse of the drinking classes."  Indeed.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Ale in the Lake District #1 - Hawkshead Brewery

Is The Lake District the best bit of Great Britain? Sure, it is oft over-filled ( mostly with teachers during any mid term holiday) and the lovely-looking pubs are awash with dreary, disappointing Jennings / Marstons beers but times are a-changing. Cumbria has periodically boasted about having the most breweries per capita or something similar and now some of them are pushing for Premier League status.Coniston Brewery have always been solid ( it's in their water!?) but the likes of Hardknott and Hawkshead have also been worthy of recent note.

BEWARE! There are several Staveleys but thankfully we found the right one for the tap house and brewery for Hawkshead and were definitely not disappointed.


24 potential handpulls, a smattering of keg and fantastic food made the trip off of the A591 well worthwhile.
Decisions, decisions
Top tapas
Gotta love a comfy couch

In the name of research, I sampled most stuff. 5 Hop was probably the pick. Their Pale was pretty close to perfect mind and at only 3.5% and the Great White (4.8%), whilst with it's wheat, botanicals and manageable motueka sounded like my nightmare, was actually deceptively drinkable. Hop Black was a solid BIPA but not really enjoying that style at the mo. However, my OH reyt enjoyed her ITI, a snazzy NZPA named after the maori word for `little` apparently.

There is also an excellent beer shop at Hawkshead Brewery stocking lots of their wares plus some classic Euro fare. I grabbed some bottles of bourbon barrel-aged Brodies Prime #4 for the road and this proved to be a great choice. A 12 month oak barrel maturation sees this core range beer go from a tidy 4.9% up to BPX at 8.5%. During Beer Central's bottle share event at the Sheaf View a few days later, this brew scored really well; Muriel Spark would have been quite proud. `Wiki` her!