Breweries & The Lakes Distillery

A selection of craft beers

A selection of craft beers

Whilst the Lake District may be best known for its outstanding natural landscapes, links to literary history, and farming industries, it is also a wonderful place to visit for beer lovers, thanks to its outstanding collection of breweries and microbreweries.

As many Cumbrians would agree, there is nothing more refreshing after a long hike than a nice cold pint of ale in a traditional English pub, and the ales of the Lake District are certainly something worth sipping and savouring.

In addition to breweries, there is also an impressive new distillery, which explores the art of making whisky, gin, and vodka and also brags a Michelin-Guide recommended restaurant.

Barngates Brewery

Barngates, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0NG – Website

Located adjacent to the Drunken Duck Inn and Restaurant in Ambleside, the brewery is best known for its tangy Red Bull Terrier ale that was awarded Gold Status at the Cumbria Life Food and Drink Awards in 2013.

All of the ales brewed here can be sampled at the Drunken Duck, as well as several other inns in the area, and whilst the brewery isn’t open for tours, visitors to the Drunken Duck can request to see inside the adjacent brewery buildings.

Coniston Brewery

Coppermines Road, Coniston, LA21 8HL – Website

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. Today the brewery produces 1600 gallons a week with six varieties, many of which can be found in locations as far as the USA and Hong Kong.

All of the beer is available at the Black Bull Inn adjacent to the brewery. This 400-year-old inn has seen the likes of John Turner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Wordsworth though its doors, and the brewery’s ale is created from waters that run from the surrounding Coniston hills.

Hawkshead Brewery

Mill Yard, Staveley, Cumbria, LA8 9LR – Website

Hawkshead Brewery first began brewing cask ale in 2002, and since then has grown to produce around 20,000 litres of ale each week. The brewery boasts of a long list of awards and creates a plethora of ales with everything from pale ales to dark stouts available.

In 2010, the brewery added its Beer Hall, where visitors can sample the multitude of ales accompanied with food inspired by the hall’s consultant chef, Steven Doherty, who previously worked for Michelin starred chef Albert Roux. In addition, brewery tours are held at 2pm on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with the entrance fee including a pint of your choice.

Hesket Newmarket Brewery

Old Crown Barn, Back Green, Hesket Newmarket, CA7 8JG – Website

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. Originally opened in 1988, the brewery has grown steadily over the years and now produces around 15,000 pints a week, with new facilities built in 2004 and opened by HRH Prince Charles.

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 that include a meal at the inn.

Jennings Brewery

Castle Brewery, Cockermouth, CA13 9NE – Website

As you travel through the Lake District you will no doubt become familiar with one particular brand of beer. Jennings can be found in pubs and inns throughout Cumbria and beyond and despite being bought by Marstans PLC in 2005 the brewery has maintained much of its independence.

Jennings’ ales that include the Cumberland and the Cockerhoop are now stocked around the world and are all created from water drawn from its own well at its Cockermouth manufacturing site.

Tours are held daily throughout most of the year (except during January), and include samples. A tearoom is also located on site with light lunches available Mondays to Saturdays.

Kendal Brewery

Burgandy’s Wine Bar and Brewhouse, 19 Loather Street, Kendal, LA9 4DH – Website

The owner of the Kendal Brewery clearly has a passion for ale. In 2011, he returned brewing to Kendal and the brewery’s Auld Kendal label is a faithful recreation of a recipe created by Whitwell, Mark & Co, who were the last brewers in Kendal, closing in the 1970s.

Today the brewery is part of a wine bar and function room complex, and visitors to the The Brewhouse Bar can watch beer being made through large glass windows that separate the brewery from the bar.

Keswick Brewery

The Old Brewery, Brewery Lane, Keswick, CA12 5BY – Website

Housed on what was once the site of Keswick’s oldest breweries, the Keswick Brewery, like many other breweries in Cumbria, is a recent addition to the Lake District’s brewing catalogue, opening in 2006 with the aim to bring brewing back to Keswick.

Its most popular ale is called "Thirst Run", and the story has it that the original name was meant to be "First Run" in honour of its status as the first beer brewed by the company, but the graphics designer misheard, and a new brand of beer was created. 

Brewery tours are held on Fridays and Saturdays at 11am and 2pm, taking approximately 90-minutes and include samples of the ales. Advanced booking is highly recommended.

Ulverston Brewing Company

The Old Auction Mart, Lightburn Road, Ulverston, LA12 0AU – Website

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.

Visitors can enjoy an ale or two in the Laughing Gravy bar on site, or take an informal tour around the premises during most weekends. Formal tours can be arranged in advance if required.

The Lakes Distillery

Bassenthwaite Lake, Near Keswick, CA13 9SJ – Website

The Lakes Distillery, the area’s newest visitor attraction, is bringing the art of whisky making to the heart of the Lake District.

Situated six-miles north of Keswick, The Lakes Distillery has a range of facilities for visitors to enjoy, such as an interactive tour to see how whisky, gin, and vodka are made, the Michelin Guide-recommended Bistro at the Distillery and a luxury gift shop. You can finish your visit with a stroll along the banks to the River Derwent or venture further to the delightful shores of Bassenthwaite Lake.