Sometimes all it takes is a night away from home, some good food and a change of scenery to recharge the batteries.
With the Lake District on our doorstep, us Prestonians are lucky enough to be able to change pace at the drop of a flat cap when city life gets too much.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for taking in the great outdoors – but if it can be done from the comfort of a decent pub, with a pint of ale in my hand, so much the better.
When I heard the Briery Wood Hotel in Windermere had recently launched its Beer Lovers’ Trip it seemed like a perfect excuse to head for the hills.
The trip consists of a night’s accommodation at the three star Briery Wood, an evening meal from their specially created menu using local ale and ingredients and a tour of the Hawkshead Brewery in nearby Staveley.
After a little confusion (the hotel’s postcode leads the sat nav straight into a housing estate) we arrived up the sweeping driveway, just a few minutes’ drive from Windermere.
We were directed to our room and booked a table for dinner before heading out to visit the brewery.
Getting there was a bit tricky – there was a bus, we were told, but the timetable was out of date. A taxi would be costly and it was too far to walk. The hotel does provide transport for groups of eight or more but as it was just my husband and I one of us had to drive. Luckily for me, he drew the short straw.
The brewery tour, 15 minutes’ drive away, was an interesting insight into how smaller craft ales are brewed. My husband – a bit of an ale lover himself – was fascinated by the process, but as we waited for the tour in the modern and relaxed bar area, something else had caught my eye: Beer tapas.
In my local this would be a bag of dry roasted and some pork scratchings but at the brewery they took the concept of bar snacks to a whole new level.
With a table booked back at Briery Wood in the evening we didn’t want to fill ourselves up so we ordered a selection of locally produced sausages, black pudding and thick cut chips – all washed down with a pint of Windermere Pale, a light, easy drinking pint at 3.5%.
With the sun beaming through the beer hall windows and a steady stream of cyclists, walkers and real ale lovers settling in for the afternoon, I would have happily stayed all afternoon.
But with just a hint of sympathy and appreciation for the designated driver we headed into Windermere where the ice cream selection almost rivals the brewery’s beer menu.
We returned to the hotel with time for relaxing before dinner. Our room was comfortable and well appointed with little extras like a spa bath and enormous bed to add to our comfort.
With the promise of a beer-themed evening menu we decided to check out the bar’s offerings and were pleased to see the Hawkshead Ale we had seen being produced earlier in the day on draught, alongside the usual Carling, Guiness and Strongbow.
In the spirit of the trip we ordered a pint each and cast our eye over the Beer Lovers’ Menu.
I ordered the pork belly starter and my husband the cod, both listing ales from the Hawkshead Brewery among their ingredients.
We then both opted for the slow braised beef cheek in Dry Stone Stout for our main course which was delicious and beautifully presented.
I don’t usually go for three courses but I wasn’t able to resist the dark chocolate tart made with Brodie’s Prime - delicious.
With full bellies we headed up the wooden hill where we slept off the day’s indulgences in a comfortable, and enormous, bed – leaving the following morning feeling as refreshed as you can after a booze up in a brewery.
The Beer Lovers’ Trip is £99 per person – details at www.lakedistrictcountryhotels.co.uk.