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Ten Outstanding British Breweries


british-breweries

The UK is known for many things: rain, a scandalous royal family, old buildings and bad food all spring to mind. But if there’s one thing that Brits really cherish and respect, it’s their beer. Naturally, a trip to a pub (or five) is a totally unmissable stop on your UK adventure, but why settle for the vendor when you can visit the creator? Here are 10 breweries worth a visit while you’re travelling in Blighty.

1. Fuller’s (London)
One of the country’s largest independent brewers, Fuller’s has been serving up fine ales since 1845. If you’re only visiting the capital and you fancy joining a brewery tour, then this is definitely the place to do it. Tours operate daily and take two hours, ending of course with a full tasting session. £10 per person. www.fullers.co.uk

2. Shepherd Neame (Kent, southeast of London)
Britain’s oldest continuing brewery (started in 1698) offers a truly traditional tour that’s often sold out. After witnessing the centuries-old equipment and brewing style, you get a tutored tasting, an experience that’s not just for wine lovers! Tours cost £8.50 and can be booked online. www.shepherd-neame.co.uk

3. Wadworth (near Bath, south-western England)
Wadworth’s tours really offer something different, as long as you plan ahead. As well as the usual tour to learn how beer is made and the tasting session, you can witness the endangered art of coopering (making barrels), see a demonstration of traditional sign writing and visit their shire horses (those chunky horses you tend to see on Victorian-scene Christmas cards). The quirky stuff must be booked in advance. £8. www.wadworth.co.uk

4. Orkney (Scotland)
If you’re looking for a brewery that’s way off the beaten track, then Orkney should suffice. Way up north in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, the picture-perfect brewery churns out ales, stout and a super strength beer aptly named “Skull Splitter”. Their sparkly new visitor centre will be up and running later this year. www.sinclairbreweries.co.uk

5. Jennings (The Lake District, northern England)
Sitting in a pretty village in the northern reaches of England’s Lake District, the Jennings Brewery offers a taste of quintessential England. Pure Lakeland water is drawn from the on-site well and used to make 10 traditional ales as well as a dozen seasonal brews. Tours operate year-round and are a bargain at £5.50, including a tasting session. www.jenningsbrewery.co.uk

6. Hook Norton (near Oxford, central England)
If you’re anywhere near Oxford, a detour to Hook Norton is definitely worth the effort. Found in the village of the same name, Hook Norton is one of just a few Victorian tower breweries left in the country. Tours start at the top of the Dickensian looking building and follow the gravity-assisted brewing process that ends in the quaint onsite pub. £9.50. www.hooknortonbrewery.co.uk

7. Bateman’s (near Lincoln, eastern England)
One of the most striking breweries, Bateman’s, is in an ivy-covered windmill. Their quirky tours include a welcome from a mummified Egyptian brewer, a tour through the Victorian style brewery and the largest beer bottle collection in the world. Tours start at £5 and include tasters of bitter, mild and porter. www.bateman.co.uk

 8. Belhaven (near Edinburgh, Scotland)
It’s thought that beer has been brewed on this site for around 800 years and with tours on offer for a bargain £5, there’s no excuse for not visiting. Unlike many English breweries, Belhaven offers lager as well as traditional ales, so if you haven’t yet got used to the slightly warm, slightly flat British beer you can still find something to quench your thirst here. www.belhaven.co.uk

9. Belvoir (near Nottingham, central England)
Belvoir is a baby in British brewery terms, established just 15 years ago, but that doesn’t stop them serving up some wonderful ales. The brewery is in the gorgeous English countryside, surrounded by villages with wonderful Harry Potter-esque names like Hickling Pastures, Melton Mowbray and Frisby on the Wreake. Enjoy all of their ten ales in the two-hour all-you-can-drink session that comes with the tour. £11, www.belvoirbrewery.co.uk

10. Greene King (near Cambridge, eastern England)
Greene King produces some of the most popular bitters and ales in Britain and although the name might not be familiar to you yet, it probably will be after a few days lounging in UK pubs. Tours start in the museum and take you from the 1700s right through to the present day bar, where you can taste half a dozen different brews. Tours happen every evening and cost £8 per person. www.greeneking.co.uk