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If you are planning to visit the Lake District, and you want to sample typical Cumbrian beers, take a trip to one of the many microbreweries in the region.
Microbreweries have flourished in the Lake District over the past few years, and with a combination of stunning surroundings, high quality ingredients and soft Cumbrian water, the ales produced here are always special.
Dent Brewery the Lake District
Dent Brewery, in Hollins, Cowgill, Dent, originally brewed beer for local residents, but such was the demand from further afield, that they now produce quality beer for all regions of England.
Situated in Dentdale, this is one of the most remote breweries in the country, and many visitors who have sampled the ales produced here, have persuaded their local landlords and/or shops to stock the ale as a guest beer.
Dent Brewery was completely renovated in 2005, and three fermenters are now at 10 barrel capacity. The water used for brewing comes from a spring on the fellside, malts come from Muntons of Stowmarket and hops come from Charles Farm. Best-selling beers from Dent are Aviator, Dent Bitter and Kamikaze. Seven ales are brewed regularly, while others appear on guest beer lists, usually selling out before the ale has been brewed. Visitors come to sample Dent ales from all over the world, including the USA and Japan.
Dent Brewery bought the George and Dragon pub in Dent village in 2006, which offers the full range of Dent beers, plus continually changing guest beers from all over the UK.
One of the most famous breweries in the Lake District is Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth, which was originally established as a family concern back in 1828 in Lorton. The company moved to Cockermouth in 1874, and is situated in the shadow of Cockermouth Castle.
Jennings is a traditional brewer in many ways, and uses pure Lake District water drawn from the brewery´s own well, the best local natural ingredients and plenty of know-how when it comes to brewing. On completion of the tour of Jennings Brewery, guests can sample some of Jennings´ superb Lakeland ales in the brewery´s own bar, the old Cooperage. The gift shop sells Jennings´ ales, port, leisurewear and gifts.
Barngates Brewery at the Drunken Duck
Barngates Brewery is situated at the Drunken Duck Pub at Ambleside, Cumbria. Beer was first brewed here in 1997 in a single barrel in the cellars of the inn. The first beer brewed was called ´Cracker Ale´, and with modest facilities, the brewery began to produce four barrels a week.
Cracker Ale became more popular as time went by, and it started to get interest from nearby inns and pubs in the Lake District. Barngates Brewery was founded in 1999, and a five-barrel plant was built. A new ten barrel plant was built in 2008, and the brewery can now produce up to 30 barrels a week.
Ales include: Cat Nap, Cracker Ale, Pride of Westmorland, Westmorland Gold, Tag Lag, Red Bull Terrier and Chesters Strong and Ugly.
Heston Newmarket Brewery
Situated at Heston Newmarket, Old Crown Barn, Cumbria, the Heston Newmarket Brewery was set up in 1988 by the owners of the Crown Pub in the village. The beers were originally brewed exclusively for the Crown in a converted barn, and the pub became a magnet for real ale fans from all over the Lake District.
As the brewery´s reputation soared, many other pubs in the region started to stock the ales, and such was demand that the owners decided to sell the Old Crown and put all their efforts into the brewery. The range of beers brewed at Heston Newmarket is now one of the largest ranges in the country. A group of local enthusiasts formed the Heston Newmarket Brewery Cooperative in 1999 to ensure the survival of the brewery after the former owners retired.
Tours of the brewery are available for just £10 per person, and include sampling the ale and a pub lunch at the nearby Crown.
Situated at Ghyll Farm, Westnewton, Wigton, Yates Brewery is the oldest independent brewery in Cumbria, and it was first established in 1986.
Many of the original outlets which stocked Yates Beer over 20 years ago, still do so today, and the beers have many loyal fans. Yates Brewery has won many awards for the high standard of ales it produces, and brewery tours are arranged on a regular basis.
Wherever you are staying in the Lake District, you won´t be far from a microbrewery, and if you want to experience the true taste of Cumbria, you will be spoilt for choice when working out an itinerary.