Hawkshead Brewery, NZPA
Hawkshead Brewery was founded fifteen years ago by former BBC foreign correspondent Alex Brodie.
Having originally set up in a 17th century barn in the Cumbrian village of Colthouse, near Hawkshead, the brewery grew so fast that in 2006 they had to move across Lake Windermere to find a new home in Staveley, at the foot of the Kentmere Valley.
In 2010 they expanded again to increase brewing capacity (making it the largest independent brewery in Cumbria) and at the same time developed the Beer Hall, a hugely impressive glass fronted visitor centre where punters can sample the beer, but also have a gander at the brewhouse, the malt loft and into the bar's cellar from where beer is dispensed. The grub is pretty damn good too.
Alex has used all of his broadcasting expertise to make Hawkshead one of the best-known and highly regarded breweries in the UK, but make no mistake, their reputation is built first and foremost on an incredibly consistent range of quality beers that have also become a bit more adventurous of late. “Bitter”, “Red”, “Lakeland Gold” and “Brodie’s Prime” were the brewery’s first four solid, spectacularly tasty cask beers, developed on a second-hand seven-barrel brew plant which came from the Border Brewery in Berwick-upon-Tweed. They’ve been slowly adding to that list ever since.
In 2017 Hawkshead raised a few eyebrows by selling a significant stake to Haleswood, the international drinks company that owns brands such as Crabbies and Lambrini. The Liverpool-based outfit promised to let Alex and his team get on with it, not wanting to meddle with a special formula, and so far they’ve been completely true to their word.
Hawkshead employs about 30 people, one of which is Matt Clarke, the Kiwi Head Brewer. The NZPA, with ripe and fruity notes from hops from his home country, was all his idea and has turned in to one of Hawkshead’s most popular beers. Brewed with several varieties of New Zealand hops, passionfruit, mango and apricot aromas and a citrus bitterness are balanced by the sweetness of English Maris Otter barley. It’s a beauty.
Rather than talk you through Hawkshead’s other beers, we suggest the next time you’re off on your holibobs to the Lake District, get on over to Staveley and their wonderful brewery centre to try them for yourself. We wish we could, but we just can’t bottle the experience.