10 of the best brewery experiences across North England
Britain loves its beer and ales and, to celebrate International Craft Beer Day on 3 August, we highlight just a few of the brewery tours and events that stretch from the north-west coast of England to the north-east coast, all in locations within easy 1.5-hour train or taxi access of each other. Cheers!
The Mad Hatter Brewing Company was set up just five years ago and, as of this year, is one of the small number of breweries run by a woman. The brewery is all producing creative ideas, which have included its signature beer the Penny Lane Pale, a low ABV craft beer with a tropical fruit aroma and a biscuit malt base – named after the street where the first bottle shop stocked them – and the Tzatziki Sour, made using Greek yoghurt to sour and then added mint and cucumber. There aren’t tours available at this small micro-craft brewery, but it does hold festivals, where they pair the beers with food, have live music playing, a kids’ corner on offer in the day session and a fire show in the evening one! The next festival will be held on 25 August, although check its website for further events.
ONE HOUR’S TRAIN JOURNEY FROM LIVERPOOL WILL TAKE YOU TO…
Runaway Brewery brews its ‘modern-tasting, recognisably British’ beers by hand in small batches at its microbrewery. Head there for its core range of Pale Ales, IPA, Smoked Porter and American Brown Ales and there’s always seasonal ales to try out. As well as brewery tours that take place every Saturday – a fascinating trail through the working brewery, plus a tasting of four beers – you can continue to drink fresh beer from the source in its Tap Room until 8pm. Before you go, check out the brewery’s plans for its monthly pop-up dining rooms, where it teams its beers with local food producers
IT’S ONLY 15 MINUTES BY TRAIN FROM MANCHESTER TO…
One of the oldest independent brewers in Britain, Robinsons, is located in the heart of Stockport and has been brewing there for nearly two centuries. Real ale is its pièce de résistance and its hour-long brewery tour takes you through Robinsons’ history, the science behind the brewing process and offers tutored tastings of three 1/3-pint samples of its beers. Upgrade to its ‘golden ticket’ and you also receive a gift set and twice as much beer at its Unicorn Bar.
BOOK A CAR TO TAKE YOU TO…
Once a month, Moorhouse Brewery opens the doors for 45-minute guided tours, four samples of its beers and a pie-and-pea supper, in true Northern style! It’s recently launched a series of new hop-forward keg beers, plus an innovative botanical range and a new look for its cask beers. Its M1 Small Batch Brewery, nestled in the main brewhouse, also allows the brewers to brew in small batches, where they can develop unique recipes, so are well worth following. The tours for 2018 run on 28 September, 19 October and 30 November.
JUMP ON A TRAIN FROM THERE TO…
Why visit one brewery when you can visit four in the cool city of Leeds on the Leeds Brewery Tour! Once a month (25 August, 22 September, 20 October and 24 November in 2018), you can begin an afternoon at the North Brewing Co’s taproom, which boasts five core beers and one-off creations in its repertoire, followed by drinks at Indian street food venue Bundobust. Straight after you’ll move onto Tapped, an American-style brew pub with its wide range of keg and cask beer, before finishing at the Northern Monk Brewery for a guided tour and tasting at the brewery, which describes itself as ‘an homage to the monastic heritage of brewing’.
IT’S LESS THAN 30 MINUTES BY TRAIN FROM LEEDS TO…
Set within York’s historic city walls, York Brewery was the first traditional working brewery within these walls for more than 40 years. The brewery has always welcomed visitors to see how the traditional ale is made, and runs four guided tours per day, Tuesday to Sunday. You’ll start in the brewery taproom bar to enjoy a pre-tour drink, head out across the brewery to learn everything that goes into making its unique beers and the process ‘from grain to glass’ and stop to admire the 20-barrel brew plant in its brewhouse. Handcrafted ales are the brewery’s passion and you can taste its quirky named, award-winning beers; Centurion’s Ghost Ales, the Guzzler, York Minster Ale and the Yorkshire Terrier.
ANOTHER HALF HOUR BY TRAIN FROM YORK AND YOU’RE IN…
Nestled in the charming spa town of Harrogate is the independent, award-winning Harrogate Brewery. Run by Anton and Sarah Stark, this is a very small brewery although has recently moved into larger premises, so more fermenters could be added to allow the couple to small batch brew more beer. It also has space for a brewery tap that opens once a month, ensuring a special experience. Come here for its strong American-hopped ale, the Horse Head Stetson, its award-winning Vanilla Porter and its ‘strong and complex’ Kursaal Imperial Stout.
BOOK A TAXI TO TAKE YOU TO…
A family run brewery that has been operating for nearly 30 years, Black Sheep Brewery doesn’t have guided tours, it has ‘shepherded’ tours, four times a day! You’ll be taken to see the traditional brewhouse, explore the science behind the fermenting process and how the brewery selects its ingredients for its distinctive tastes, and why it still uses the Yorkshire Square Fermenting Vessels that were developed more than 200 years ago. Then head to its bar to try out a few of its award-winning beers, such as its cult classic cask ale, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and its strong dark Yorkshire ale Riggwelter.
HAVE THE DRIVER TAKE YOU ON TO…
Durham, County Durham
It may be the oldest working brewery in Durham but the award-winning Durham Brewery is still small and family owned, and continues to grow its beer portfolio, which ranges from dark stouts to light bitters, wheat beer to lagerbier, the latter of which takes three months to mature. Daily tours run twice a day and, as well as touring the brewery and tutored tastings, you’ll hear all about British and Durham beer history and culture. Don’t forget to stop by the shop on your way out to buy your favourite tipple.
A 15-MINUTE TRAIN RIDE FROM DURHAM AND YOU’LL ARRIVE IN…
Housed in the city’s Palace of Art in Exhibition Park – the last remaining building from the 1929 North East Exhibition – the Wylam Brewery is certainly in a very special location. The brewery – which was founded in 2000 and is a 30-barrel brewery – opens its Brewery Tap Thursdays through to Sundays as well as runs brewery tours every Saturday, where the brewing process is explained, as is the fascinating history of the brewery and, of course, the chance to sample the beer. In October 2018 the venue will also host Craft Beer Calling, an international beer festival.
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