We were probably brewing before the Romans arrived, so it is little wonder we have perfected the technique so well over the centuries in the UK. Us Brits love our beer and with such a fantastic selection to sample, there’s no finer time to try the local brew than when you go away. For those who enjoy a pint of real ale, a trip to the local pub is sure to provide plenty of tasting opportunities and a chance to mingle with the locals and find out about the local traditions, events and attractions. Alternatively, pick up the bottled version from the local shop or brewery and have it chilling back at the cottage – a wonderful welcome to return home to at the end of a days hiking and exploring the area.
Here are five fabulous UK holiday destinations that offer locally brewed beer as one of the many reasons for visiting.
- Cotswolds: Hook Norton Brewery – The Cotswolds is a fabulous area to take a holiday, with its delightful honey-coloured buildings and quintessential English charm. Still delivered to the village pubs by shire horse drawn drays, the pubs and inns of the area offer the popular ‘Hooky’ beer which must be tried when you visit. The 150 year old brewery produces exceptional seasonal cask ales, each with its own personality that responds well to the changing seasons. Using the finest natural ingredients, there is something for every palette. From the malty Double Stout to the sweet fruity Flagship ale, you’ll find something that you love. You can visit the Brewery Centre, in the Cotswolds village of Hook Norton, with its themed shop selling bottles to barrels, with the option to try before you buy! Two brewery tours run each day (apart from Sunday) where you can find out more about the brewing process, take a look at the original steam engine, visit the Stables and see its magnificent residents or call in on the museum.
- Dorset: Hall & Woodhouse Brewery – Dorset isn’t just famed for its striking coastline with fossil hunting opportunities, snug villages and rolling green scenic countryside. It’s also the home of Badgers Ale, which not only can be enjoyed in the traditional pubs of the area but also in the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery. Located in the market town of Blandford, the Visitor Centre is open Monday to Saturday with tours around the Brewery offered at 11am. The tours not only fill you in on the history of the beer and the brewing processes today, but you also get to taste 3 cask ales, enjoy a ploughman’s supper with a pint and take a special Badger beer bottle opener keyring home with you.
- The Yorkshire Dales: Black Sheep Brewery – The Yorkshire Dales is brimming with quaint cottages, expanses of stunning countryside; outdoor activities to get involved in and plenty of pubs to sample a local pint at the end of an exciting day. Whether you opt for hiking , cycling, pony trekking or climbing, there is something for everyone in this majestic region. The distinctly dry and refreshing taste of the Black Sheep Brewery’s cask ales can be sampled at many of the traditional inns dotted throughout the Dales. The Black Sheep Visitor’s Centre sits in the Yorkshire village of Masham (also home to Theakstons Brewery), on the outskirts of the Dales and makes for a fun and informative day out, providing plenty of opportunity to sample the beers, have a tasty meal in the restaurant and pick up some Black Sheep merchandise to enjoy back at the cottage.
- Cornwall: St Austell Brewery – Cornwall is one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations with its splendid beaches; cream teas and pasties; walking trails and fishing harbours. If you fancy a break from the sea, you can always visit the St Austell Brewery, famed for Tribute the South West’s favourite pint. The finely balanced Tribute ale fuses the taste of malt, fruit and hops and is perfect for enjoying in one of the many Cornish pubs, back at the cottage or on the sea front with some good old fashioned fish and chips! Awarded Silver, in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, the interactive museum at St Austell’s Brewery allows you to discover the intriguing history behind the beers and provides a snippet of nostalgia as you wander through the Victorian Brewery. Winning a place as one of Britain’s top 10 cask ales and certainly deserving the accolade, make sure you try a pint of Tribute when you next visit Cornwall.
- Kent: Shepherd Neame – Last but certainly not least is Kent, which put Britain firmly on the brewing map. Famed for being at the heart of the country’s hop industry, this beautiful county, renowned as the ‘Garden of England’, has been growing hops since as far back as 1524. Today its hop fields have dwindled in numbers but can still be found throughout the county, along with its distinct oast houses providing a reminder of Kent’s strong history in brewing. Faversham itself is a charming market town with great amounts of character and cultural interest. It’s the perfect place for walking tours and enjoying fine food and drink. Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery and holds on tightly to the reins of tradition. Traditional ingredients are used in all of their beers and the water for each is drawn from the artesian well situated below the brewery. Bishop’s Finger, Spitfire and Master Brew are amongst the popular Kentish ales brewed in Faversham and you are sure to smell the unmistakable aromas that waft around the town when they are being brewed! As well as tours and beer tasting events, there are evening tours with supper, beer and food matching evenings and you can even hire the place for private dining and wedding receptions for those with a serious passion for ale!
So next time you book a self-catering holiday in Britain, why not let your taste buds guide you? Pick a place where they brew your favourite beer, and learn more about its origins while you sample a pint or two in the area where it came from.