The Best Breweries In (And Near) The Lake District
If you're planning a trip to the lake district this year, and you enjoy a tipple then you're in for a treat. The lakes has some of the best breweries, micro-breweries and brew pubs in the country. Many offer tours and tastings, some have shops for you to pick up their beers on site and most have online shops for you to buy their beers for delivery.
We've looked at every brewery in the lakes as well as the surrounding towns and villages to bring you the 2021 guide to the best breweries in the lake district.
A newcomer to the craft brewery scene in 2018, Grasmere Brewery produces an array of beers and vegan ciders, brewed using water from nearby Thirlmere Reservoir. The brewhouse’s dedicated tap room is the Good Sport pub in the centre of Grasmere village, where you can sample the full range of produce. Popular bets include the seasonal Rhubarb and Red Berries cider, a summery, pink fruity number with 6.8% AVB. The 3.8% house Helles lager is year round favourite, promising a crisp clean finish, with English malt and alpine hops. The pub sells canned beers and ciders to take away.
Established in 1999, the brewery has expanded over the years and now has its premises in Appleby, Westmoreland, with its tap room at the New Inn in Brampton, near Carlisle. Tirril’s best-selling beers include Old Faithful, a 4.0% gluten free blonde ale made with Golding’s aroma hops, and Ullswater Blonde, a pale fresh bitter. They also produce a delicious sounding Cumbrian Hedgerow Elderflower and Borrowdale Honey gin. Mail order is available via Chestnut House Online, an independent off licence in Ullswater, who also offer local delivery.
The Ennerdale Brewery
A family run business situated off the main tourist drag in the village of Rowrah, in Cumbria’s western lakes. Established in 2008, the brewery has an onsite tap room, which also operates as a café and bistro. A range of craft ales includes their bestselling Blonde, a 3.8% ABV fruity golden beer, touted as a blonde for bitter drinkers. They produce seasonal specials such as the 4.5% Honeycomb Ale, which combines Goldings hops and locally sourced honey, for a mellow yet full bodied beer. The brewery sells mini 9 pint kegs for take away, with free local deliveries available. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the brewery, subject to advanced booking.
This small artisan brewery has been in operation since 2013 in Flookburgh, near Grange over Sands. A varied, evolving collection of ales spans fruit beers and seasonal specials. One popular regular is the easy drinking 3.7% ABV Ghyll, a golden cask ale made from Amarillo hops. For something stronger, try Tinderbox, a 6.3% ABV west coast style IPA, with pine overtones. Fell Brewery has tap rooms in Kendal and Penrith, and a recently opened bar in Charlton, Manchester. Their online shop offers a free local delivery service, with free UK deliver for orders over £50. If you’re in the area you can phone or email to arrange collection from Flookburgh.
Unsworth’s Yard Brewery
Established in 2012 by the Unsworth brothers in Cartmel, Cumbria, the brewery has a small onsite tap room and take away shop in a pleasant courtyard landscaped with Lakeland slate. Visitors to the tap room can sample an assortment of cask and bottled beers before buying, whilst observing the brewing process through a large viewing window linking the shop to the brewhouse. One of the most popular beers is Sir William Marshall’s Crusader Gold (3.9% ABV cask, 4.1% bottled). This light and hoppy, citrus flavoured golden ale, was named after the crusading founder of Cartmel Priory. Unsworth’s hosts regular beer and wine tasting events, along with tours of the brewery.
Bowness Bay Brewing
This Kendal based microbrewery set up business in 2012, and produces a range of regular favourites and seasonal specials. An award winning collection of bottle, cask and keg beers includes Swan Black (4.6% ABV), a dark, chocolatey IPA, and Steamer IPA, a rounded American style ale with a hearty 5.7% ABV, which won a SIBA gold award in 2018. Bottled beers can be purchased online, and free local delivery is available. There is a newly opened tap room, the Barrel House, adjacent to the brewery.
Founded in 2016 in Bowston Bridge, Kendal, Handsome’s beer production includes regular and seasonal creations. Popular favourites include Blacksmith, a malty, dark stout with 4.8% ABV, and Top Knot, a 3.7% pale gold bitter with a citrusy dry finish. An onsite bar and tasting room are open at weekends, with a picturesque outdoor seating area overlooking the River Kent. The premises opens for take away purchases from 11 am daily, when visitors can choose from a selection of bottled beers.
This award winning 20 barrel brewery has been creating new world and classic European beers since 2002. Located in the village of Stavely, between Kendal and Windermere, its roomy, glass fronted beer hall offers an extensive variety of lagers, ales, wheat beers, and stouts, all brewed onsite. The company has garnered several awards in recent years, including the SIBA 2020 silver award for the 7.4% Unfashionably Late Imperial IPA. In 2018 Hawkshead opened a second brewhouse in Flookburgh. Brewery tours can be arranged at the Stavely site, and bottles and cans are available to purchase online.
Watermill Inn and Brewery
The Watermill Inn and brewery is located in the village of Ings, between Kendal and Windermere. Launched in 2006, visitors to this award winning microbrewery and dog friendly pub can enjoy a drink whilst watching the brewing process through a glass wall linking the main bar area and brewhouse. Take your pick from up to 11 traditional hand pulled ales, sporting a canine theme. Try Watermill Collie Wobbles (3.7% ABV), a pale gold bitter, or the popular 4.3% Windermere Golden Retriever (chosen as the Westmoreland festival beer for CAMRA in 2012). The cheekily named Shih Tzu Faced is a 7% ABV strong ale, and won a CAMRA gold award in 2016. The brewery has an online shop, and offers free local delivery. The bar sells a variety of bottled beers to take away.
Keswick Brewing Company
Opened in 2006, this small craft brewery and tap room occupies what was once the site of Keswick’s oldest brewery. The recipient of several SIBA awards, one of its best-selling creations is Thirst Run, the brewery’s first produced beer. This 4.2% golden pale ale has won several awards (it was named best beer at Keswick Beer Festival 2006, and was listed in 50 best bottled beers by the Independent in 2012). Thirst Noel, a 6% rich dark malty ale, is one of several seasonal offerings. The onsite Fox Tap and beer shop is a modern dog-friendly space which offers 10 cask and keg beers on tap. The shop sells bottles, kegs and casks to take away. Various social events are hosted at the brewery throughout the year.
Kirby Lonsdale Brewery
The brewery set up business in 2009, and its airy, stylish tap house, the Royal Barn, has been welcoming visitors daily since 2016. Here you can try 12 hand pulls and 8 keg taps, plus over 60 guest beers. The first beer produced was the 3.9% ABV fruity and spicy Ruskin’s (named after the art critic and painter John Ruskin, who lived in the Lakes) which remains a highly popular choice, along with Pennine Ambler, a refreshing 4.1% amber ale. Online delivery is available.
Established in 2015 this Ullswater based microbrewery is housed within a converted 18th century stable block, adjacent to the historic Brackenrigg Inn. The brewery produces five different ales which are all on sale at the Inn, including Boathouse Blonde, a 3.8% ABV refreshing ale with hints of grapefruit. Rambling Bookkeeping Bitter (4.1% ABV) is another bestseller, combining honey with bitter hops and sweet roast malt. The bar sells a take away selection of bottled ales and gift packs, and the brewery has an online shop.
The Strands Inn Microbrewery
Peacefully located in Nether Wasdale, just over a mile from Wastwater, this inn and microbrewery have been in partnership since 2007 The first beer made on the premises was called ‘Errmmm…’ and this amber hoppy pale ale remains particularly popular with regular customers. The onsite brewery holds its own annual beer festival each May, when visitors can enjoy up to 34 different beers. Red Screes (4.3% ABV) is a popular full flavoured red ale with a nice balance of hop and malt. Take away orders are currently available by collection only, though an online shop is in the pipeline.
A CAMRA award winning brewery based in remote Dentdale near Sedbergh, which has been in production since 1989. Their cask and bottle core range includes the hugely popular Golden Fleece (3.7% ABV), a delicately spiced, pale golden ale with citrus flavours, and T’owd Tup, a 6% chocolatey, dark ruby beer. Seasonal specials include the dark and malty Dent Porter (3.8%). The brewery’s tap room is the historic George and Dragon pub in nearby Dent Village, which showcases all the beers in production. Bottled beer is sold through their online shop, and 9 gallon cask ales are also available, though you will need to drop in and collect. Free local delivery is available. Tours of the brewery can be arranged on request.
Established in 2008 as Stringer’s Beer, in the south lakes market town of Ulverston, in 2018 the brewery was acquired by Lakeland Inns and became Lakeland Brewhouse. Top beers include its Lakeland Brewhouse IPA at 5.5% ABV, a fruity ale with tropical spice and a hint of marmalade. Or try Plan B, a gluten free 3.7% pale ale with a touch of honey and a zesty finish. The brewery runs five pubs in the area, including the Sun Inn in central Ulverston, a stylish Grade II coaching inn, with a spacious bar area.
The Ship Inn and Greenodd Brewery
Based in the village of Greenodd, near Ulverston, on the edge of the Lake District National Park, this microbrewery was launched in 2010. Production spans pale ales to dark stouts, all showcased at the adjacent Ship Inn. Popular choices include Coal Wharf Stout, a 4.2% rich and smooth traditional stout, combining four different malts. Cascade is a strong amber beer with 4.5% ABV. The cosy Ship Inn has a traditional wood burning fire, slate floors and beamed ceilings, and there is a separate games room and restaurant.
Ulverston Brewing Company
In operation in Ulverston since 2010, this brewhouse sits in historic Victorian premises dating back to 1875, which originally housed a cattle market. Their range of ales and seasonal beers includes Laughing Gravy, a 4% light copper beer, and the refreshing Lonesome Pine (4.2% ABV), a citrus and malt flavoured pale honey beer. Visitors can purchase 9 gallon casks from the brewery premises, but you need to phone in advance to confirm opening hours.
Hesket Newmarket Brewery
Founded in 1988, Hesket’s was one of the first microbreweries in Cumbria, and has been producing ales in the north lakes village of Hesket Newmarket for over 30 years. The brewery and its onsite tap house, the Old Crown pub, have in recent years flourished as a none-profit community owned cooperative. Many of their beers are named after famous Lakeland fells. Two of the most popular brews are Brim Fell, a 4.5% ABV copper coloured IPA, and Helvellyn Gold (4.0%), a smooth, straw coloured bitter. For bottle and cask ale deliveries by post, contact the brewery to place an order.
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