County Stat Attack Week 15 - Cumbria

The county containing the Lake District, we are way up in the North West of England, bordering Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, North Yorkshire and Lancashire. Cumbria is mostly a combination of the old counties of Cumberland and Westmorland and bits of Lancashire and Yorkshire making it now the 3rd largest county in England. This was the area inhabited by the Brigantes who aligned themselves with Rome during the occupation and emerged as the Cumbric speaking kingdom under repeated attacks from Scottish clans. After the Norman invasion most of the area was under the Kingdom of Scotland but by the time of William II became incorporated into England.

There is one city in the county, which is Carlisle, which is also the county town, other large settlements are Barrow in Furnace, Workington, Kendal and Penrith. Ship building used to be a major employer in the area but since its decline the Nuclear Power station at Sellafield has become the largest employer. Agriculture and Tourism are a major part of the county income.

Cumbria has everything in the way of geological features, from the coast through to the Solway firth, the western Pennines and of course Lakeland. The highest mountain in England is here in Scafell Pike (978m), other high spots include Helvellyn (950m), Skiddaw (931m) and Great Gable (899m) in fact all of the top 10 highest peaks in England are in Cumbria. In addition to the mountains the county also has the largest lake, Windermere. It is a county of superlatives.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 61 Breweries in Cumbria, 39 currently active and 22 closed. Only 3 of these are Commissioner / Client Brewers.

The oldest brewer by far is Jennings Brewery of Cockermouth (Est 1828), now part of the Marstons group but still operating separately, apart from floods. The brewery was established in a village south of Cockermouth, Lorton but moved in 1874 to a purpose built brewery. The brewery was run by 3 sons of the original owner, covering all parts of production and the business. The built the business by buying up smaller breweries and public houses to expand. The buy-out by Marstons was in 2005 and there is no longer any connection to the Jennings family.

The Brewery with the largest range in the county is Hawkshead Brewery of Staveley (Est 2002) with 141 beers on Ratebeer.

The 2020 Ratebeer Best awards made Hawkshead Brewery the best Brewery in the county and Hawkshead Tonka Shake the best beer.

The overall Top 10 beers for Cumbria are –

  1. Hawkshead / Cigar City Tiramisu Imperial Stout
  2. Hawkshead Imperial Stout
  3. Hawkshead Northern Imperial Stout
  4. Hawkshead Northern Imperial Stout Bourbon BA
  5. Hawkshead Tonka Shake
  6. Hawkshead Imperial Flump King
  7. Hawkshead Sour Cherry Tiramisu Bourbon BA
  8. Hawkshead Brodies Prime Reserve
  9. Hardknott Vitesse Noir R
  10. Hawkshead Tonka

The Top 6 Bars / Pubs in Cumbria on Ratebeer are –

  1. Beer Hall (Hawkshead), Staveley – 86
  2. Dale Lodge Hotel, Tweedies Bar, Grasmere – 83
  3. Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, Barrow in Furness – 77
  4. Watermill Inn, Ings – 76
  5. Wainwright, Keswick – 76
  6. Eagle & Child Hotel, Staveley – 76

The top 5 Raters of beers from Cumbria are –

  1. @AshtonMcCobb
  2. @cgarvieuk
  3. @ManVsBeer
  4. @fonefan
  5. @zacgillbanks

You will require a generous 56 rates to dislodge @RichTheVillan from 50th place in the highest raters list.

The top Rater who resides in Cumbria is @RichardW who we haven’t seen since 2015 unfortunately. I can’t find any currently rating.

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Up front, I love the Lake District and most of Cumbria as a whole, loads of experiences there and hopefully loads to come. I’ve walked the Wainwright Coast to Coast, east to west so ending up at St. Bees Head, crossing much of the area from Kirkby Stephen. I’ve done many of the peaks including Scafell, Skiddaw and Great Fell being the most memorable. The lakes are excellent, probably my favourite being Coniston Water, there is a site right on the edge in the woods which is lovely and an easy walk into the village. The Coniston Old Man is a great day out, finishing off in The Sun.

I have only ever done Carlisle for football once, not getting into the pubs, might have to do that one day. I remember the away section overlooking fields full of sheep. I’ve managed to get to many pubs within the Lake District area though, I would say that with the dominance of Jennings and Robinson’s there are not too many Free Houses about.

I have tried 209 beers from Cumbria through our visits, Beer Festivals and bottle purchases from the Motorway Services and Chestnut House, Pooley Bridge. This puts me in 7th place for the county, pretty pleased with that. Cumbria is 32nd in my list of English Counties, with an average of 3.23 per beer, possibly because the Hawkshead revolution there has so far largely passed me by. I have had beers from 39 different Breweries putting me in 3rd place for Cumbrian breweries.

The Cumbrian Breweries with most ratings for me are –

  1. Jennings Brewery – 36
  2. Hawkshead Brewery – 25
  3. Hardknott – 18
  4. Foxfield Brewery – 10
  5. Dent Brewery – 10

I have 8 beers that that I have rated 4 or over, the best being –

  1. Yates Sun Goddess – 4.3
  2. Coniston Old Man (Cask) – 4.2
  3. Coniston Bluebird Bitter (Bottle) – 4.1
  4. Dent Ramsbottom Strong Ale – 4.1
  5. Coniston Bluebird Bitter (Cask) – 4.1

I did enjoy the Bluebird Bitter when it first came out, haven’t seen it for ages.
The only Top 10 beer I have had is the Harknott Vittesse Noir which I gave a 3.6. It was a sad day when Hardknott Brewery closed.

My highest rated Breweries for Cumbria are –

  1. Cumbrian Legendary Ales – 3.483
  2. Hawkshead Brewery – 3.458
  3. Yates Brewery (Closed) – 3.45
  4. Coniston Brewing – 3.422
  5. Fell Brewery – 3.371

Despite all our visits I have only rated 12 places, more work to do there by the looks, the best are –

  1. Tebay Services, M6 – 72
  2. Dale Lodge Hotel, Tweedies Bar, Grasmere – 72
  3. Greyhound Hotel, Shap – 66
  4. Chestnut House Pooley Bridge – 66
  5. Black Bull Inn, Coniston - 64
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With a meagre 12 ratings, Cumbria is languishing in the relegation zone of my table. I take some consolation from the fact that Hawkshead features prominently in this short list, although in truth I have certainly drunk more Jennings ale since it used to be a regular feature in the Navigation pub down the road as its ties to Marstons brought it to Nottingham.
Cumbria is another region that stirs the pools of memory. As a boy, I had relatives who were fell walkers and we would drive up on the weekend and spend the day. I remember naively thinking that this was like mountain climbing although the adults steered me away from the crags. I equally recall how cold I felt on one descent having been caught by rain and hail on the summit. I must go back and see if I can tackle the Catbells near Keswick. Best start realistically before moving on to Scafell!
Sadly, the summer traffic deterred my adult visits; there are only so many times you can spend what seems like a lifetime stuck behind a caravan on a Lake District lane with dry stone walls each side. By the looks of things, I should base any return visit in Staveley.

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Really pleased when I saw Cumbria come up as the County this week, that is until I looked at my stats and started to reminisce about my trips up there.

It would appear I haven’t been once since joining RateBeer, so my visits to Jennings/Cockermouth, Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall, Kirby Lonsdale, Kendal, Barrow, Dent, The Watermill Inn at Ings, etc, etc, are in fact just memories without written substance. Bugger! I have no place reviews for the county at all even though I’ve been many times in the past.

77 Different beers rated @ 3.17 average; my 25th highest rated county by volume. 17 breweries in those 77 beers, 2 of which have closed; no ciders, meads or Sake.

Top Beers.
Hesket Newmarket High Pike.
Ulverston Laughing Gravy.
Stringers IPA.

Most Beers.
Jennings 18.
Hawkshead 14.
Eden River 9.

Top rated Breweries:
Great Corby
Hawkshead
Dent

This thread has stirred my memory and I really must get up there again and review some of those places I can recall so well. Cheers Glen and everyone else, this little series highlighting English counties shows us what a lovely country we live in.

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51 beers from 11 brewers for me. 21 from Hawkshead and 16 from Hardknott, but 0 from either Jennings or Coniston. That’s easy enough to rectify though.

No place rates despite me and the missus spending 3 nights up in Cartmel for my 50th a couple of years ago. Hawkshead Beer Hall was a great spot though, and I ticked my first and only Sake at L’Enclume where we had a posh birthday dinner.

Plenty of pre RB visits have included the Watermill at Ings and the Golden Rule at Ambleside. I’ve also stayed there a couple of times for the Egremont Crab Fair which is about the most entertaining few days of daft ness you could ever wish for!

Work once took me there and I stayed in a boozer in Dent that had the world’s most uncomfortable bed, but the room did overlook a field of sheep and the breakfast was one of the best I’d eaten. It helped me get over the monumental headache from all the Owd Tup I’d shovelled down the previous night.

Lovely part of the world, that holds some very fond memories.

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Close to displacing Rich from that 50th place then, as you say could be an easy fix once we are up and running again.

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One of the Protz 300 beers I have yet to tick off is Hesket Newmarket Helvellyn Gold and I recently spotted a shop that sold it as well as a bunch of other Cumbrian beers. I also thought I was only a few beers off the Top 50 but then realised that I was actually looking at Northumbria. But will put an order in at some point.

I have just managed the 10 Cumbrian beers, the top rated being Hawkshead Northern Imperial Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged, a 4.1 at the old Beaverfest in 2017.

Breweries:

Hawkshead @ 4
Hardknott @ 2
Coniston, Derwent, Jennings and South Lakes all @ 1

I have been to Carlisle twice. Once on route to a holiday in Scotland when i was about 9. And once for a work meeting, when I was staying in Newcastle so just drove to the meeting and back out again with a colleague.

Ok Cumbria, mmhhh… another county that I don’t have much time for and haven’t got fond memories of. I guess and btw I have told this story before, my thoughts on Cumbria are soured by spending about 6 weeks working there late 1986, I was 17 and then spent my 18th birthday there, we were in Shap, finishing off a municipal open air swimming pool, yes you read that right an open-air swimming pool in Shap, the sodding thing seemed to be full of water well before we’d completed the tiling. It rained incessantly, day after day, week after week, admittedly my birthday being mid November probably guaranteed even more rain at that time of year. We sat in the van watching the rain pelting down and listening to The Smiths, we drove to Coniston Water, it rained, we drove to Carlisle it rained, it rained and rained and rained, that is all it ever did. The locals weren’t that friendly and viewed an Oxfordshire boy and a scouser with great suspicion, it truly was a miserable time.

Ok let me be positive, I have been there a couple of times since, walking in the hills and staying at the Watermill in Ings and I must confess it is a pretty place, however there are many other places in the country that rival it for stunning scenery and which I prefer.

Onto stats, I sit in 38th place with 61 rates, I have to be honest and I am surprised I really didn’t think that I was even top 50.

Top five breweries in terms of total rates, * I have rated from 16 different breweries 3 of which are sadly closed.

Hawkshead 14
Hardknott 14 CLOSED
Jennings 11
Geltsdale 6 CLOSED
Watermill 2

I have not rated any places on here, however having stayed at the Watermill and also been to the aforementioned Shap and Carlisle, there are places that I have been. I am sorry Cumbria, but I really do not have any interest in re-visiting you again anytime soon. Sadly this is likely to be one of my least favourite counties, apologies for anyone who hails from there or who holds it in high esteem.

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Presumably “Panic” ?

“Hopes may rise on the Grasmere
But honey pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down to the safety of the town
But there’s panic on the streets of Carlisle”

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Beautifully evocative, Fin. That’s basically a Smiths song already citing the Smiths.

Tbf, I’ve always enjoyed visiting Cumbria, but yeah, it’s downright weird.

As a hillwalker, I obviously absolutely love Cumbria. It’s one of my favourite counties (well, apart from the crowds…), and for the past five or six years (except sadly last year) I’ve got into the habit of spending a weekend up there each year with a group of friends.

As a result, despite being one of the furthest counties from my home, it’s slowly becoming one of my better-rated counties. I’ve rated 61 brews, making it my 12th most rated county (would have probably been top 10 if I’d have been able to go last year). This makes it one of the few counties where I’m in the top 50 raters (joint 38th in fact).

My top 5 beers are:

I love Snecklifter - as well as the bottled version being top, the cask version is only just outside my top 5. I’m always surprised that I continue to think the bottled version better after trying both bottle and cask many times.

My 61 rates come from 24 breweries and one cidery. My most-rated breweries are Jennings (12), Coniston (7) and Jawkshead (6).

I’ve rated 15 places (my 4th highest county for places), of which my faves were:
Fell Bar, Penrith (84)
Dale Lodge Hotel, Tweedies Bar, Grasmere (82)
Cumberland Hotel, Alston (82)

The highlights of the area are obviously the fells - we’re nearly halfway through walking the Wainwrights and I can honestly say I’ve loved every moment I’ve been up on them. After leaving Wycombe at 4am, we normally start walking at about 9am on our walking weekends. By about 9.30 I’m able to look out at the view with a huge sigh of contentment, all my work worries gone, and feeling that all is right with the world - I’m not sure I get quite that feeling from any other place!

As Glen said, Scafell Pike is the highest point in modern Cumbria, but in olden times the area was split between Cumberland (highest point Scafell Pike), Lancashire (highest point The Old Man of Coniston) and Westmorland (highest point Helvellyn). All three high points are pretty busy, but as with all of the fells you don’t have to walk far from them to find your own private viewpoint. I’ll always remember climbing Scafell Pike with my wife on a really clear day (the first big hill I climbed), but scenically the fells above Buttermere are pretty hard to beat.

I have quite a few beery memories to finish this lengthy ramble down memory lane:

  1. Being accosted by a drunken chef in Penrith, still in his chefs hat and whites and clutching a pint he’d “liberated” from his place of work. He turned out to be the friendliest bloke in the world, and mainly wanted to compare notes on what it was like living in his beloved Penrith (to which we got a guided tour) compared to living down south, This followed by the great Fell Bar made for a memorable night out!
  2. Trying to drink the entire Coniston brewery range at the Black Bull Inn in Coniston (accompanied by a suspiciously bright yellow curry). It all went well until the last one, where one of my friends decided to get us pints (rather than halves) of their barley wine. Took us until closing time to force down even a polite amount of that!
  3. Nearly missing last orders for food in Buttermere because we (along with half our youth hostel) were busy watching a group of piglets trying to push each other down a hill, with hilarious results.

Oh, and if you’re in Keswick on a wet day, make sure you pop into The Puzzling Place (a museum of illusions) - it’s great if in need of a little TLC. It may baffle you even more after a Snecklifter or two.

I’ll shut up now. Sorry, favourite county & all that…

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41 rates from Cumbria, joint top rates are Hawkshead Hop Black (a Black IPA) and Mosser Cider Blakeney Red - Dry Perry both at 3.7.

The numbers of rates is on the low side considering it borders with County Durham, but for some reason it’s not a county I’ve chased although pre-lockdown had been across quite afew times to the Lake District for visits, a good stop was always Taste@Rheged just off the M6 junction 40 where it crosses for A66, not sure how its faired under lockdown.

In terms of Cider, there are 5 active cideries listed, the most prolific is Solway Cider with 4 which I’ve not managed to find yet. The spoils in terms of top rater for Ciders and Cideries is shared between me and @Grumbo, each of us having rated 5 ciders and 3 cideries

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174 rates puts me 9th and 33 breweries puts me 5th on that list. Hawkshead by far my highest volume with 25 followed by Hesket Newmarket with 11 (4 of which managed to score above 3.0). Top 2 beers are from breweries that are now closed, Hardknott Rhetoric #2 at 4.3 and Chadwick’s Castle Mills at 4.2 which (I thought anyway) was a cracking mild which I had at GBBF in 2016.

15 places rated. Beer Cockermouth, Fat Gadgie, BrewDog Carlisle and Thin White Duke are my top 4 with a JDW surprisingly coming in at number 5 (Woodrow Wilson scoring 72). Probably my only region list with a 'spoons in the top third, though I’ve not double checked that belief.

My last visit was work related. Theme predictably continues. It was August 2019. I needed to be in Glasgow for meetings one day followed by Manchester the next. Why scratch the surface of 2 big cities when you can spend 2 nights in Carlisle instead and do everything it has on offer? Ticked off half the pubs the first evening before travelling to Glasgow early the next morning and then the rest after Glasgow before going to Manchester the next day. Enjoyable couple of days. Even got my haircut there. Not sure I’d do that again though it added to the Carlisle experience.

Have I mentioned I really miss my work travels?

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I’ve got a lot of time for Cumbria. It’s a beautiful part of the country and while it may not be one of the top beer destinations, there’s enough there to hold my interest. I’ve visited properly twice, in 2015 and 2017, with a day in Carlisle on the way back from Scotland as well. I’ve had a chance to take in the sights of Kendal, Keswick and Ulverston as well as less glamorous areas such as Barrow-in-Furness.

My 60 rates used to give me a more impressive place in the table, but you don’t tend to get Cumbria beers round these parts - only three rates since my 2017 trip - so I’ve fallen to 44th.

I’ve drunk beer from 22 breweries (16 open, 6 closed). Most-rated breweries for me are Hawkshead (14), Hardknott (11) and Fell (5), followed by loads of 1-3s. Top individual beers are:

Hawkshead Mosaic Pale Ale 4.6
Hawkshead / Cigar City Tiramisu Imperial Stout 4.2
Hardknott Infra Red 3.9
Hawkshead Tonka 3.9
Hardknott Code Black 3.9

I’ve rated 25 places, with the top 5 scoring highly. I would imagine the Cumbria beer scene has improved since my visit but these places were certainly solid.

Prince of Wales (Foxfield), Foxfield 84
Beer Hall (Hawkshead), Staveley 84
Dale Lodge Hotel, Tweedies Bar, Grasmere 82
Fell Bar, Kendal 80
Mill (Lancaster), Ulverston 78

I’d love to go back but probably won’t get there for a while. My other half is more a fan of urban getaways (which works for me beerwise too) and it is too far to sneak away for a day trip.

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Ah Cumbria – I knew I should have bought that Eden River beer I saw in Morrisons yesterday ! Looking at my RB stats for the county, I have 11 ratings (should actually be 12 because Sadlers beers are now brewed at Hawkshead). However, these are from no less than 9 different breweries. I have friends who visit the Lake District quite frequently (always staying at the same place), and they usually bring me back a couple of interesting bottles. I haven’t rated anything particularly highly – Coniston Bluebird at 3.6 is the highest.

Widening the scope to include my pre-RB records, I have a total of 61 beers from no less than 24 breweries. No ratings recorded, but the one I remember vividly is Barngates Goodhews Dry Stout. Jennings 15 beers, Hawkshead 10, nowhere else more than 4.

Not rated any places in Cumbria. I was struggling to think of any occasions when I had actually drunk in the county. But the memories started coming back, and I reckon quite a few trips had boozy connections

· My first drink in Cumbria would have been in a pub near to Whitehaven station with my dad back in 1977.
· A day spent cruising on the “steamers” on Lake Windermere back in the late 90s.
· A visit to watch Barnet (my 2nd team) play Carlisle back in 2005, with the highest ever crowd for a non league game (over 9000). [ After Barnet scored in the first minute, the away fans started singing “are you Scotland in disguise ?” ]
· Two recent trips behind class 37s along the Cumbrian Coast, one trip including the Ravenglass & Eskdale line. I’ve been to excellent pubs at both ends of that line.

And my bucket list includes walking across Morecambe Bay on the sands – though my dodgy knee has probably put paid to that.

Happy days !

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Cumbria sits joint 9th in my England Regions league table with 7 points (rates) - 2 of those are from days of yore, when I infrequently dipped into RB and didn’t know what I was doing (whereas now I dip in quite regularly - but still don’t know what I’m doing!), and includes one from Hardknott, a sadly missed brewery. Visits to Cumbria have been infrequent, and as stated above, memories of rain come flooding back - although on it’s (fine) day, Keswick is a lovely place, as is Hawkshead (the village, not the brewery - but their Beer Hall is mighty fine also) and a long walk around Esthwaite Water was very much enjoyed - not so much Workington or Whitehaven, don’t think their day has ever come. No place rates as it’s too long ago I last visited, but I think more trips up that way will occur.

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The one and only time I have been to Cumbria was a last-minute affair. I was dating my now wife but had only been to bars and restaurants, when all of a sudden, I had a call at work in the morning saying she was in Keswick and did I want to join her for ‘adventure’. Somehow, I managed to wangle a couple of days off work at short notice and by late afternoon I had made it to the town by train. Now I was hoping for a romantic weekend but it turned out ‘adventure’ involved mountain climbing, mountain biking and gorge scrambling including 50ft jumps as part of a group. Jogging is normally about as energetic as I get so to say I was out of my depth is an understatement. I had some Frank Spencer moments let’s just say that!

Anyway only 3 Cumbria rates for me but probably should be more due to Sadlers/Hawkshead but don’t want to mention in case I lose West Mids rates. Oh crap…

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I do love Cumbria, and have visited a few times, mainly on work business.

I have had 61 beers, nothing rated over 3.6. Top of the pile are:

I have rated 4 places, notable are Tebay Services and the Orange Tree (Kirkby Lonsdale).

Really should head back at some point…

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Cumbria is my 4th highest rated county in England. I’ve got 78 ratings putting me #30. My most rated brewery is Ulverston Brewing Co. at 7 total (there are 3 more tied at 6 rated), my top rated beer is Ennerdale John Dalton Stout at 3.8. Hopefully, post lockdown I will get to the county to get a place rate as it was another trip casualty at the hand of COVID.