In the beginning
Hawkshead Brewery began in 2002, in a barn at Town End Farm, at the head of Esthwaite Water, just outside the village of Hawkshead. We brewed on a second hand 7 barrel brew plant which came from the Border Brewery at Berwick-upon-Tweed (now Hadrian Border Brewery in Newcastle). Having quickly outgrown the barn we moved, in 2006, across Windermere to Staveley, at the foot of the Kentmere Valley, though our beer is still in Hawkshead – bottled beer at the Hawkshead Relish shop, draught beer in 3 of the 4 pubs in the village, as well as up the road in Near Sawrey.
The move to Staveley
Hawkshead Brewery is now beside the River Kent, in Mill Yard, Staveley, where we installed a new brewery, tailor-made by Moeschle (UK) Ltd. In 2010 we further expanded into the glass fronted building next door increasing brewing capacity and developing our brewery tap, The Beer Hall. This involved building the bar around two 11,000 litre stainless steel tanks which rise up through the first floor. The brewery's "brew length," the quantity that can be produced per brew, is 20 barrels, a brewer's barrel being 36 gallons. 8 fermenting vessels give us the capacity to produce 220 barrels of beer per week. At Hawkshead our capacity was 30 barrels.
Beer from the heart
Which was our original slogan, was coined one day when the boss, Alex Brodie, went off on one of his customary rants about “proper beer". The brewery’s not been going long but Alex, who started it, reckons he has been in the beer business, man and boy, for 40 odd years - as a dedicated propper-up of bars and beer hunter. His selfless research has been conducted not just in Britain but around the world, during his career as a foreign correspondent.
He grew up in East Yorkshire in the 1960s drinking John Smith's cask bitter.... until the day crazed keg marketeers stripped out the hand pulls. He drank Morrells at university, and served fizzy beer in London bars in the early 70s, whilst seeking out Courage Directors.
He joyfully imbibed King and Barnes, Shepherd Neame and Harveys, in Kent, where, in 1973, he joined CAMRA. In the Midlands, the Davenports wagon delivered "beer at home". In Cardiff, even late night bars served Brains S.A. The flat in Wandsworth didn't have a sitting room - that was round the corner in the Youngs brewery tap, and in South West London, Manuel's Wych Elm kept a great pint of Fullers' Chiswick.
In Iran, it was Heineken from a tea pot. In Pakistan, he had to register as a Christian to get beer from the Murree Brewery. In Mexico City, Dos Equis hit the spot. The USA, meant Sam Adams Boston Lager. And when home in the UK in The Lake District, fell walks would be contrived to end with pints of session Bitter from Cumbria's first micro, Yates. Now he doesn’t have to hunt far for proper beer.