Hawkshead Beer Festival

As we arrived into Staveley I had mixed feelings, excitement that I was moments away from some fine beer and utter selfishness that I had taken hostages along the way.  In the car with me were my three young sons (under 4) and my ever supportive wife.  I say supportive as she enabled me to get to the festival, was open-minded about dragging the family along and was the default designated driver for the journey home.  We set off from Bradford knowing it would be a brief visit before a dash home in time to get the kids to bed.

3 kids, 120 mile round trip, unknown territory, no sat nav, no road map…. nothing could possibly go wrong, but two hours later and after enjoying a slight detour around lake Windermere (see Learning point 1 below), our ETA was shot but moved seamlessly to Plan B: ‘Adapt and overcome’.  By the time we sat down in the Beer Hall with food in front of us, and me with my first beer (a Hawkshead 6% Windermere Pale) it was 3pm and I knew I had some tough decisions to make.  Sixty+ beers to choose from and roughly 90 minutes to pick a few and enjoy them while remaining in charge of my faculties.  I did not want to be accused by anyone of being PUI (Parenting Under the Influence).  We opted to sit upstairs (see photo above), away from a drunken group of foul-mouthed youths, and much to the amusement of the onlookers as we lifted a twin pushchair up the flight of stairs.  But once settled in we enjoyed the friendly service, the burgers, hotdogs and chips, and a good view of two huge stainless steel fermentation tanks, a view appreciated by me anyway.

On my second trip to the busy bar was with baby 1 under my supervision, the number of comments to the effect of “ooo you’re starting him early aren’t you!“, five.  I had barely sat back down in my seat with a Hawkshead Cumbrian Five Hop – a really moreish beer boasting a tropical fruit cocktail of hop aromas and flavours – before it was gone and I was back at the bar, baby 2 under arm, and more friendly banter and comments about my wingman.  In between trying a Black Isle Yellow Hammer and a Red Willow Endless, I managed to say a quick hello to Matt Clarke (Head Brewer, Hawkshead).  There were a few others I would have liked to meet, but time was up.  One more stop was made at the bar to pick up a few bottles to take home, notably the outstanding NZPA, now rebranded and repackaged in 330ml bottles.   Was it a bit crazy to drive so far for such a short time? yes! but did we all enjoy the road trip, the sunshine, food and family time? YES! It was of course a huge bonus for me to have visited a festival high up on my list, and I’ll be returning next year with anyone who fancies a jaunt to the Lakes.

Learning points:

  1. A map is essential.  Hawkshead Brewery is not located in or anywhere near Staveley in Cartmel, but I can tell you that it is a lovely little village.
  2. Four year olds do not tire of asking “are we there yet”.
  3. Never Always drink pint measures when visiting a beer festival for less than 2 hours.
  4. Hawkshead Beer Hall is well worth a trip.

6 thoughts on “Hawkshead Beer Festival

  1. Nice one. It’s been on my list of must-visit places for a few years now, but haven’t had the time. Luckily, in August we are staying (with the dog) at a b&b down the road (well, a mile away) – so plan on getting stuck in. Can’t wait, personally. Hawkshead can do no wrong in my eyes. Good write-up.

    • It was a good day and I think we’ll be back (with an overnight stop) for the July festival. You’ll have a great time in August, and I think the 1 mile walk might be a good thing! 🙂

  2. Visited last year with Mrs H & Maggiedog, it’s a fantastic place to visit even without a beer festival. I had hoped to get to this but failed miserably, Mekong plans for the summer fest though without a doubt, see you there, cheers buds

  3. Pingback: Well Hopped Ales – Hawkshead Brewery « broadfordbrewer

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