10 of the best microbreweries in and around Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 29 September 2015

Hawkshead Head Brewer Matt Clarke (on steps) and his team in the brewhouse

Hawkshead Head Brewer Matt Clarke (on steps) and his team in the brewhouse

not Archant

The UK now has more breweries per head of the population than any other country and many of the best are here in the north west. Here’s ten of our favourites, compiled by Rebekka O’Grady

Rammycraft

It all started from brewing beer in a little pan as a hobby in 2010. ‘It was just a crazy idea, I was an estate agent at the time,’ said Matt Holmes, master brewer and owner of the award-winning Ramsbottom Craft Brewery. ‘It became more addictive as it is complicated and a challenge to get right. With it taking so many hours to do a brew for something like 100 bottles, I thought I may as well make more!’

Matt turned commercial in 2012 and has been going from strength to strength since. He still brews with his custom built equipment in his garage at home, but has a unit in Bury for bottling and cask conditioning. ‘I am also looking for a unit in Ramsbottom to expand the brewery as it’s getting too big now, but the right one hasn’t come up yet.’ The master brewer makes up to 1000 pints per week in a maximum of two brews, supplying to local pubs around the area and Lancashire.

‘I launched an online bottle shop last month which has been well received. Some have been sent out to Europe. This year, I am also hoping to run a cask brew of Rammy Hops made with Fuggles hops grown from our own garden.’

Tel: 07976 263344, www.rammycraft.com

Old School Brewery

Founded in 2012 by Ian Walsh and Ren Wallbank, the brewery was initially something of a hobby but grew into much more. Situated in a converted barn at the foot of Warton Crag, Old School Brewery produce first class hand-crafted beers using only the finest quality ingredients. They also organise Live Ale, a music and beer festival, which will make a welcome return in 2016.

Tel: 01524 740888, www.oldschoolbrewery.co.uk

Hawkshead

Hawshead have been brewing traditional beer styles with a modern twist in the Lake District since 2002. What is now a hugely popular operation started out in an old barn at Hawkshead. As the brewery grew, they moved across Windermere to their present site in Staveley, where they built a new brewery in Chadwick’s Mill and added a brewery tap, The Beer Hall. Today, Hawskhead employs a team of five brewers and makes around 20,000 litres of beer a week.

Tel: 01539 822644, www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk

Brewsmith

A fledgling microbrewery based in Ramsbottom, Brewsmith was founded in 2014 by the Smith family. James, Jennifer and Ted produce a small range of cask ales from their ten barrel plant which are becoming increasingly popular. At the 2014 SIBA North West regional competition, the brewery took home Gold Overall Champion Cask Ale of the competition for Brewsmith Bitter – a major recognition they didn’t expect.

Tel: 01706 829 390, www.brewsmithbeer.co.uk

Southport Brewery

Established in 2004, Southport Brewery is a small, family run independent microbrewery producing traditional, handcrafted quality beers. The brand already has a popular range of ales, and a new beer, Black 5 Stout, was launched on September 6. This date is poignant as on this day 51 years ago, the last steam train from Preston to Southport was driven by Ronald Halsall - the father-in-law of Southport Brewery owner, Paul Bardsley.

Paul’s wife, Elaine, said: ‘Ron Halsall was my dad. He died in February this year, at the age of 87. We decided it was only right that my dad was remembered with a special brew for him. The name Black 5 is the type of train he drove that night and the beer is brewed with smoky malt, to replicate the great steam era.’

Tel: 07748387652, www.southportbrewery.co.uk

Irwell works brewery

Situated in the former Irwell Steam, Tin, Copper and Iron Works in Ramsbottom, the company has been brewing since 2010. They have five standards beers and several awards for the quality of their ales.

Tel: 01706 825019, www.irwellworksbrewery.co.uk

Watermill and Windermere Brewery

Watermill started as a dream of a dad and son back in 1986. Alan and Brian Coulthwaite moved back home from Devon to the Lake District a year later and acquired Millholme Country Hotel, which in 1990 became the Watermill Inn. After years of tumultuous campaigning with United Utilities, which resulted in the duo spending £60,000 on a treatment tank to keep the pub running and prepare for the brewery, along with the arrival of a brewing kit shipped over from Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005 the five barrel micro brewery was finally born.

Tel: 01539 821 309, watermillinn.co.uk

Coniston Brewing

You may be familiar with Bluebird Bitter. It’s a beer that won Supreme Champion Beer of Britain back in 1998 and has continued to be awarded in years since. This popular ale is the creation of Ian Bradley, who runs Coniston Brewing Company. Hidden away behind the Black Bull pub, the owners of which are Ian’s parents, Coniston started in 1995 gaining a reputation across the Lake District and beyond.

Tel: 015394 41133, www.conistonbrewery.com

AllGates

Located in a fully restored 19th century Grade II listed tower brewery, AllGates has been brewing fine craft beers in the heart of Wigan since 2006. Their launch helped to re-establish brewing in the town centre after a near 40 year absence, following the closure of Moorfield’s Brewery in the 1970s. They say that true Northern Soul is put into their range of modern beers, which have been built on cask ale tradition.

Tel: 01942 234976, www.allgatesbrewery.com

Lytham Brewery

The brainchild of father and son, Andrew and James Booker, Lytham Brewery was originally established in 2007 in Lytham town centre. A fire ripped through the brewery in 2011, but the pair bounced back with new premises and have developed a reputation for producing fine quality ales. They are so popular that since they began, the brewing capacity has multiplied five-fold and they create a list of different ales each with its own distinctive characteristics.

Tel: 01253 725 440, www.lythambrewery.co.uk

Ones to watch

Neptune Brewery, Maghull @neptunebrewery

Red Star Brewery, Formby redstarbrewery.co.uk

Rock the Boat Brewery, Little Crosby rocktheboatbrewery.co.uk

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