Back towards the Hook Norton Brewery which we couldn’t get into on Sunday. Upon arrival, we were disappointed to learn that tours must be booked in advance, and they were fully booked into next week! Sad at heart, we looked through their little Museum-like display, browsed the merchandise and bought a couple of pints to drown our sorrows in. But as a last-ditch effort, we pulled the trump card: the ‘we cycled all the way here in the rain and we’re only in the area today’ card. An amiable tour leader agreed to squeeze us in on the next tour. Yes! Nothing’s worse then going out in the rain, unless it’s going out for naught.
The Hook Norton Brewery was started in 1849, and is still a family owned and run business.
Brian has had a few tries of their ales in several pubs in the area over the last few days and was greatly impressed. All the magic takes place in this old Victorian 5 story building with equipment using gravity to aid in production. An old steam engine is actually used to power a line drive system and the machinery as needed. Most of the equipment is original and has had little modifications over the years. The newer pieces are from 1900.
Learned that water is called the 'Brewer’s Liquor 'and theirs comes from a natural spring on the property. Got to taste some of the malted barley and was surprised at how good it was. Saw an ancient unused cooling tank which they think is the only one in Britain. They even have stables that house several horses which are used to pull a cart and deliver casks of ale to the local pubs (mostly for PR, but still very cool!).
After the tour, it’s down to the old malt house where they’ve set up a bar to sample an unbelievable amount of beer! Maybe I’ve just been trained by the wineries in Canada which limit your consumption, but we did not have little tastes, but ½ glasses of each brew: 4 of their main line, and 4 of their seasonal!. Then you can have a few more FULL glasses of your favourites! Cycling home was more difficult than anticipated, and it had nothing to do with the hills or the rain - LOL! I couldn't believe it. They also give you your own pint glass as a souvenier. Great value and a worthy tour if you’re ever in the area…I don’t like ales that much, but certainly enjoyed trying all the different varieties and tasting the differences between each.
To make the dreary evening a bit more tolerable in the damp tent, we've taken our beautiful ales, and bought some local cheeses, and bread. Enjoying the best of England, but also getting ready for France!
A grey drizzly day made it very difficult to drag ourselves out of the tent and do anything. I finally roused Brian with the lure of beer - works every time!