It’s been a while since I’ve updated this as a result of a new job which means I spend a lot of my day blogging so I’m less inclined to do it of an evening!
But now I think it’s time to post about the Christmas present I got for Ross – a tour of Lancaster Brewery, which we combined with a mini-pub crawl.
Lancaster was somewhere I visited a lot as a child as my grandparents lived in the city, but I haven’t been back for a number of years so it was interesting to revisit and see it with adult eyes.
Our first port of call was The Sun, a pub which is owned by Lancaster Brewery.
They’d also reclaimed part of the garden and turned it into part of the building.
And as for the beer – a range of cask and keg options, not just limited to Lancaster Brewery’s which was good to see.
But we couldn’t enjoy it fully and only stayed for a half. This was because some of the other patrons were a group of parents with babies and a toddler who was running around shouting and generally playing up as he was being ignored by the adults. This did spoil the atmosphere which was a real shame as we could’ve stayed for another, and we had wondered why everyone else was squeezed in the smaller room which housed the bar when we arrived!
(As someone who doesn’t have children I’m not against them being in pubs, but there is a line that gets crossed when kids are running wild and being a disturbance to the detriment of other patrons.)
We then did some of the touristy bits and pieces (castle and Williamson Park) before heading over to the brewery.
It’s not in the centre – it’s about a 25 minute walk away up a huge hill and on a site which includes an antiques centre, a farm shop and a building site which will soon become housing. The brewery itself is in a former gardening centre.
I’d paid for the tour beforehand with a Groupon voucher (£35 for both of us which included tour, 4 pints each and a pie each) and on arrival after filling in health and safety forms (never done this before at any brewery we’ve previously visited), we were presented with cards for our four pints.
We were dressed up in white coats and taken around the brewery in the back.
The tour lasted about 40 minutes and was led by one of the bar staff, who was friendly and keen to answer any questions. It was very chilly though as it was a bitterly cold day and there’s a lot of ventilation in the brewery which probably didn’t help!
By this point we’d gone through all of the beer options available and although we hadn’t used all of the tokens on the card, we got a taxi back into the city centre (cost about £5, brewery called a taxi for us).
The Tap House was our next port of call and we had big expectations based on the name.
But it was slightly disappointing as there just wasn’t that much choice. The majority of the beers were from Hawkshead – not sure if it was because of a takeover, or if they just weren’t that creative with their options. Maybe I’m being harsh though – I do like Hawkshead (we’ve been on their brewery tour) but I was expecting something rarer.
Our next and final destination was Merchants 1668. We were attracted to it as it’s historic and close to the train station so seemed a perfect ending point.
It’s truly an adorable pub located within historic wine cellars which date back more than 300 years. It has a number of different chambers so there is plenty of seating – even with one of the sections closed off for a private party on our visit.
And the beer? Well, a few of them were off which wasn’t ideal but there were options to please both Ross and I so we were happy.
It really was all about the atmosphere – it was chock full of charm and was very cosy. They also have a beer garden so I’d be keen to visit in the summer and test it out.
So was Lancaster worth the trip? We had an enjoyable day out and it is a lovely city, but I think beer-wise we’ve been spoiled by living in Manchester. However it’s nice to explore somewhere else, and as we were only there for a day we didn’t get the chance to visit everywhere we would have liked to (for example we kept hearing good things about the Water Witch but it was a bit out of our way) so there are more pubs to try and beers to sample which we missed out on purely because of time.