At the Three Shires Inn we love a good pint just as much as you do. We’ve been spending a bit of time dropping in on the breweries who keep us supplied with delicious beer to find out a little bit more about what goes into making a truly tasty brew. Last month caught up with Ian from Coniston Brewery, but this time we’re chatting with Roger Humphreys, founder of Cumbrian Ales.
Cumbrian Ales started life in 2003 when Roger began brewing beer at the lovely Kirkstile Inn, at Loweswater, in the north of the county. He now splits his time between running both the Kirkstile Inn and the brewery. Twelve years ago the brewery relocated to Hawskhead where it now overlooks Esthwaite Water.
"I guess there were less than 400 breweries in the country when we began and now there are over 2000, so we were one of the first micro-breweries to start up in Cumbria,” says Roger.
“We began brewing in some outbuildings at the Kirkstile and it just started to grow. We got requests from other pubs and festivals and it just kept going from there.”
Cumbrian Ales’ best known beer is Loweswater Gold; a wonderful, refreshing elixir which has been a Godsend for thirsty fellwanderers for many years. Loweswater Gold won Champion Beer of Britain in the golden ales category in 2011.
"To make good beer you have to be meticulous, to do things consistently, make sure all the equipment is clean and in good condition and that you follow the process precisely for each beer,” says Roger.
"When you're designing the beer you need to look for the right balance of flavour in the hops and a good malt base. If it's a beer that people want to drink when they come off the fells you really don't want to make it too strong, it needs to be thirst-quenching because they’ll probably want to have two or three.”
Other beers in the Cumbrian Ales stable of more than 10 include the slightly more hoppy Langdale and Esthwaite, as well as Life of a Mountain, which was brewed specially to celebrate the release of the latest film by local film-maker Terry Abraham. Terry has made three films about the iconic Lakeland fells; Scafell Pike, Blencathra and, most recently, Helvellyn. Darker beers include Grassmoor and the brewery’s Vanilla Oatmeal Stout.
“Our focus is always on quality and doing things right,” says Roger.
“We’re happy with the size the brewery is now and we don’t want to grow massively. We have a lovely customer base and we’re really just aiming to provide a good service, we don’t want to take over the world!
“The Three Shires Inn are a long-time customer and we’ve had a really long and happy relationship with them. We enjoy the opportunity to get to Little Langdale and supply them, because it’s always such a beautiful location to visit.”
To find out more about Cumbrian Ales go to www.cumbrianales.com