Best of British: Breweries

Anna Walker

We’re raising the bar with seven of our favourite British breweries for a tour and a pint. Hop to it! 

Hook Norton Brewery

Oxfordshire

With its iconic Victorian tower building and beautiful Cotswold Hills location, Hook Norton might just be the most picture-perfect brewery in Britain. One of just 32 family-owned breweries in the country, beer has been brewed here since 1856.

Enjoy a real taste of history as you encounter the brewery’s four working shire horses—Nelson, Monty, Major and Lucas—out making their local deliveries or take in the working steam engine, driving the brewery machinery just as it has done since 1899.

Says tour guide Malcolm Black, “Enjoy a two-hour tour of our independent, family-owned Victorian tower brewery, renowned for hand-brewed quality real ales brewed on site since 1849. All the products we use are traditional, which you will be able to smell and taste and much of our machinery dates back to 1900. In addition, you’ll be able to see our microbrewery and team of majestic heavy horses.”

Go to hooky.co.uk to find out more.

 

Northern Monk

Leeds

Now in their fifth year of brewing, this Leeds local collaborates with breweries across the North to create some of the most varied and delicious flavours out there: from American style beer to classic British heritage pints.

Says events manager Vik Kastenbauer, “Our 45-minute brewery tour is hosted at The Old Flax Store, our Grade II listed mill in Holbeck—the spiritual heart of the industrial revolution. During the tour, you’ll visit our tap room which is located above the brewery itself, where you’ll have the opportunity to sample three beer tasters.”

Enjoy your tasters in the tap room in the beautiful surrounds of the Grade II listed building. It’s the only publicly accessible mill in the city, so it’s your unique opportunity to get an insight into Leeds’s industrial past. And if you’re hungry, there’s plenty of delicious grub on site too.

Go to northernmonkbrewco.com to find out more.

 

Hillside Brewery

Gloucestershire

This small-scale brewery was founded in 2014 with a very simple aim: to create a brewery that would become part of the local community.

Perched just a stone’s throw away from the beautiful Forest of Dean, Hillside is an eco-conscious brewer, running on solar power and recycling all they can. Spent hops and grain go to the local cattle which are in turn milked to create a delicious beer ice cream made by Hillbrooks Luxury Ice Cream.

Says brewery director Paul Williamson, “Hillside brewery produce a range of award winning beers. You can see, touch, smell and experience the brewing ingredients and how they relate to the process up close. All while sitting back and enjoying a well-earned ale overlooking some of Gloucestershire’s most stunning landscapes. Come and lose yourself in an experience unlike any other, where effort and passion combine into a great experience.”

Go to hillsidebrewery.com/brewery-tours to find out more.

 

Hawkshead Brewery

Lake District

With flavours including Key Lime Tau, Chocolate Northern Imperial Stout and Passionfruit Gose, you’ll never be bored in the tap room of the Lake District’s premier brewery. And with each tour offering taster vouchers, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking your pint.

Hawkshead’s slogan is “beer from the heart” and it’s certainly made that way: with a focus on distinctive flavours, this is a hands-on brewery, with very little automation. Tour guides are warm, knowledgeable and keen to show you the very best Hawkshead flavours.

Hawkshead’s slogan is “beer from the heart” and it’s certainly made that way: with a focus on distinctive flavours, this is a hands-on brewery, with very little automation. Tour guides are warm, knowledgeable and keen to show you the very best Hawkshead flavours.

Go to hawksheadbrewery.co.uk to find out more.

 

Three Tuns Brewery

Shropshire

Brewing since 1642, Shropshire’s Three Tuns is officially Britain’s oldest brewery. Operating from a Grade II listed Victorian tower (one of only four breweries to do so in the UK), the brewery attracts visitors from all over the world, affectionately referred to as the “Three Tun pilgrims.”

A tour of this brewery not only offers a taste of the delicious brews, but also an insight into how our ancestors brewed. Highlights include the original winch that hoisted malt to the top of the tower to begin the brewing process.

The restaurant often books out, so be sure to call in early if you intend to grab a bite after your tour. Enjoy a cold pint while the sun’s still with us, but rest assured, the brewery’s roaring fires make it an unmissable pitstop for the colder months too.

Go to threetunsbrewery.co.uk to find out more.

 

Bristol Beer Factory

Bristol

This brewery—which describes itself as “fiercely independent”—is experimental and innovative with a quirky range of flavourful brews; would you expect anything less in a city as trendy as Bristol?

Here, hop-loving visitors can enjoy off-kilter events as well as the traditional brewery tour. Pay a visit to the tap room for Table Tennis Tuesdays and regular specialist tasting sessions or enjoy special live music nights, made all the more enjoyable by sipping a refreshing pint that’s been brewed on site.

Make the most of the last of the summer sun by soaking it up on the outdoor tables, velvety pint in hand—total bliss!

Go to bristolbeerfactory.co.uk to find out more.

 

Sulwath Brewery

Galloway, Scotland

Castle Douglas—a designated food town—is the cosy home of Sulwath Brewery, a must-visit for real ale fans.

Brewed through traditional methods using 100 per cent natural ingredients, Sulwath makes beer the traditional way. They claim that it’s the softness of the local water that makes their brews so rounded and mellow.

Fans of the supernatural watch out—according to staff, brewers working the night-shift have been known to spot the brewery’s former owner wandering the unused rooms during darker nights.

If night-frights aren’t your bag, fear not, this brewery welcomes dogs, so you can enjoy the more wholesome daylight sight of frolicking pups as you enjoy your pint and a pie.

Go to sulwathbrewers.co.uk to find out more.