One of the great pleasures of exploring a new area whilst on your cottage holiday is getting acquainted with the local brew. Invariably the best local ales tend to embody a sense of the character of the locality. Lovingly crafted over decades (centuries in some cases) these local treasures are just waiting to be discovered (and re-discovered!!).
Fine ale is experiencing a renaissance in this country with a 40% growth in consumption in the last 7 years alone. As part of our local luxury series we are going to take a look at our top 5 favourite local breweries in Britain.
5. Skinners, Truro, Cornwall
Relative ‘new kids on the block’ Skinners are based in the Cornish capital Truro and have in short order developed a fine reputation for quality ales since 1997. Sourcing local Truronian barley, Skinners produce championship winning beer with their most decorated brew ‘Betty Stoggs’ crowned the best ale in Cornwall and in recent year’s winning CAMRA’s ‘Champion Best Better in Great Britain’. Based close to the Fal estuary in this popular cathedral city, Skinners offer guided brewery tours where you can get to know the family of local bitters which are named after characters in Cornish folklore. Truro is one of Britain’s smallest cities and has a proud reputation as one of the tidiest cities in the world. A great base for touring Cornwall, the North and South coasts are easily accessible with Falmouth and Newquay within a short 25 minute drive.
4. Timothy Taylor, Keighley, North Yorkshire
Sourcing its roots to the mid Nineteenth century, Timothy Taylors have been producing championship winning ales in the finest tradition of a family based brewery. Based in Keighley, at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, locals are rightly proud of their local bitter with ‘Landlord’ recognised as the brewery favourite winning many awards in both the ask and bottled categories. As a well established brewery, Timothy Taylor boasts a wide range of local hostelries across Yorkshire, keeping the tradition of fine cask ales well and truly alive in God’s own county. Keighley itself lies on the fringes of haunting moorland epitomised by the nearby ‘Bronte Country’ with the popular Haworth a mere 4 miles to the south. With nearby Skipton and the Dales at your doorstep, you may find yourself working up a thirst exploring this enigmatic corner of Yorkshire.
3. Adnams, Southwold, Suffolk
Suffolk is considered by many to be the premier ale making county in the country, boasting 21 breweries producing a total of 128 local beers in Suffolk. Our next local favourite is Adnams which has been making beer in Southwold since 1872 – though brewing in the immediate area can in fact be traced back to 1396. This well established brewery has hostelries across the length and breadth of the county and offers tours of both the brewery and the distillery where they produce vodka and gin! Like so many successful independent brewers, Adnams embrace localism, working with nearby producers with sustainability in mind in terms of both the environment and local economy. The result is a fantastic range of fine award winning Suffolk beers, pale and cask ales to choose from on your next cottage holiday in East Anglia.
2. Brains, Cardiff, Wales
Treasured in Wales, Brains have been producing fine ales in Cardiff for 125 years. Carefully honing their craft over the past century to create range ales that have rapidly increased in popularity over the last decade. Many will be familiar with the brewery through their successful sponsorship of the Welsh international rugby team, though the brewery is well established with over 270 pubs throughout the country. The company remains independent and is run by descendants of the Founders way back in the 19th century and now produce delicious dark and pale cask ales. Perhaps the most celebrated and famous cask ales, SA (or Special Ale) has just marked its 50th anniversary, a fine copper coloured ale produced from three variety of hops to produce a dry ‘nutty’ finish. A great accompaniment whilst perhaps surveying the Welsh landscape outside your local holiday inn!
1. Sharps, Rock, Cornwall
Just approaching its 20th anniversary, Sharp’s in Rock, North Cornwall have enjoyed fabulous success in two short decades with notably ‘Doom Bar’ coming to nationwide prominence in the world of fine cask ales. ‘Doom Bar’ is named after a notorious sandbank just off the stunning Camel Estuary, which was treacherous for sailors yet in turn shelters the estuary. This is a fascinating juxtaposition that epitomises the duality in this part of Cornwall, balancing the ravages of the power of the North Atlantic versus the extreme beauty of the region. Sharps seek to capture the characteristics of the area using refined brewing techniques to produce distinctive and ‘moreish’ ales in tune with their surroundings. Again, sustainability is at the heart of the breweries ethos with an emphasis on recycling and waste management to protect the area which in turn sustains the Business in what is a stunning part of the country. Rock has a reputation for attracting the countries well-heeled, that image is now complemented with a very fine reputation for producing some of the country’s finest cask ale.
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