Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.
'Real ale' is cask conditioned beer, a peculiarly British speciality. It is Britain's craft.
As well as the Lake District being widely known for stunning natural beauty, its historic literary associations and wonderful hospitality, it is also a wonderful place for beer lovers to visit.
The Lakes is home to an outstanding collection of breweries and microbreweries which offer visitors to the region a real treat. There is nothing better after a long walk than a nice pint of beer in a traditional pub, and the beers of the Lake District are certainly the perfect reward. In addition to breweries, there is also an impressive new distillery at Bassenthwaite - The Lakes Distillery - producing whisky, gin, and vodka and having a ‘Michelin Guide’ recommended restaurant.
In the Lake District we have an impressive 36 breweries and this number keeps growing... There are far too many to list but here’s a few to whet your appetite!
Lake District breweries
This is probably one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to breweries in the Lake District. It was established in 1997 as an experimental venture for the owners of the adjacent pub, the ‘Drunken Duck’. Demand grew quickly and in 1999 the brewery was expanded to produce more, from one barrel to five. In 2008 they grew to ten barrels and now supply to over 80 other pubs. The Drunken Duck Inn samples all the ales brewed in the brewery, along with many others from the area! Whilst the brewery isn’t open for tours, visitors to the Drunken Duck can request to see inside the adjacent brewery buildings.
Highlight: Beers brewed here include Tag Lag, Goodhew’s Dry Stout, Red Bull Terrior, Cat Nap, Brathay Gold and Cracker.
Location: Barngates, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0NG
Having been awarded Supreme Champion Beer of Britain in 1998 for its renowned Blue Bird Bitter, the Coniston Brewery has gone from strength to strength since its humble beginnings in 1995. All the beer is available at the Black Bull Inn in which Consiton Brewery sits behind. Producing 12 craft beers is no easy feat and with impressive vision they now ship their speciality ales to the U.S.A, Sweden and Hong Kong.
Highlight: You can sample all the ales in the Black Bull Inn as well as enjoying a good hearty pub meal. The inn is situated in the picturesque village of Coniston with views of the ‘Old Man’ mountain.
Location: Coppermines Road, Coniston, LA21 8HL
Hawkshead Brewery first began brewing cask ale in 2002 on the shores of Esthwaite Water, and since then has grown to produce around 20,000 litres of ale each week. Variously described as: micro-brewery, local brewery, beer factory and a small regional, the brewery boasts a long list of awards.
Highlight: Scheduled tours of the brewery are run daily at 1pm allowing you to enjoy lunch in The Beer Hall before or after your tour. The cost of a brewery tour is £10.00 per person and includes either a pint or two halves at the end of the tour.
Location: Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria, LA8 9LR
This unique brewery is led by a co-operative of around 60 individuals, all of which are ale lovers and have local connections to the area. Established in 1988, this is one of the finest micro-breweries in Cumbria which has been producing fine real ales ever since. The brewery is located adjacent to the Old Crown Inn where you can enjoy its ales and tours can be booked in advance for weekday evenings. The tour also includes a meal at the inn.
Highlight: Most of the ales produced here are named after well-loved fells in the Lake District National Park: Cat Bells, Helvellyn Gold, High Pike, Red Pike and Skiddaw to name a few.
Location: Old Crown Barn, Back Green, Hesket Newmarket, CA7 8JG
The owner of the Kendal Brewery clearly has a passion for ale. Today the brewery is part of a wine bar and visitors to the The Brewhouse Bar can watch beer being made through large glass windows that separate it from the bar.
Highlight: Thursday night is live Jazz Night!
Location: 19 Loather Street, Kendal, LA9 4DH
A small micro-brewery near Hawkshead specialising in traditional British ales using oak casks. First brewed Feb 2015, the beers have delightful names such as Beertrix Potter, Tiggy Pinkle, Grized Ale and the wonderful Puddled Duck.
Highlight: They aim to make ale and beers using traditional methods by using the finest ingredients and delivering some of their ales in wooden casks.
Location: Outgate, Ambleside, LA22 0PU
What started as a couple brewing beers for their friends and family in a garage in 2006 has slowly developed into an award-winning brewery housed in a former cattle market. Ulverston is the birthplace of Stan Laurel, one half of the duo Laurel and Hardy, and the brewery’s beers honour these connections by being named after Laurel and Hardy films. Their beers are sold in pubs and outlets across the region.
Highlight: The old stone buildings that now house the Ulverston Brewing Company are Victorian and date back to 1875 – it was a purpose-built indoor cattle market providing an essential service to farmers for around 85 years
Location: The Old Auction Mart, Lightburn Road, Ulverston, LA12 0AU
For those who would like to buy the finest bottled beers from The Lakes’ breweries, Hawkshead Post Office offers a selection of over 70 different brews from the region.
Map of Lake District breweries:
Plan your Lake District brewery tour with our map below.
Throughout the Lake District there are wonderful places to eat and drink, and the beauty of staying in a self-catering cottage is that you have no time curfew at all. So why not check out our range of cottages that are close to pubs so you can sample all these local ales and walk home after!