Another month and another stay in a historic pub! But the Black Bull Inn in the heart of the Lake District isn’t just a pub – it’s also the home of the Coniston Brewery. This is one of Ross’ favourite breweries so this is how I ended up in the middle of the Lakes after five hours sleep (I’d been to Cyprus for a few days for a wedding but I digress).
The pub dates back more than 400 years and still provides accommodation for weary travellers like me at reasonable rates (£100 per double room including breakfast).
The pub itself is delightfully traditional – brass ornaments, roaring fires and plenty of seating which made it exactly my type of place.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the beers are Coniston but there were also a few guest ciders as well as a Weissbier available.
We arrived, checked in then decided to pop in for a pint before going for a little wander so I went for a half of the Thursten Pilsner, which was a refreshing little drink.
Later that evening, we dined in the pub (starter of spring rolls to share followed by fish and chips for me and chilli for Ross, with a pecan pie for dessert) so we managed to sample most of the selection between us during that time.
I started with the afore mentioned Weissbier – Sanwald Weizen. I’ve not tried this one before and it did have nice flavours but was not as thick as I’d prefer a wheat beer to be. Probably better to have with food compared with the more traditional and heavier weissbiers though!
After this I moved on to the Coniston beers. Many of them are named after events and landmarks in the area with a number inspired by Donald Campbell and Bluebird – an attempt to break the landspeed record on the nearby Coniston Water.
Infinity IPA was my next selection. This (along with the K7) had a more modern pump clip than the others so I’m not sure if it’s part of a new range or simply being targeted at a different audience. Either way, I enjoyed this 6 per cent IPA very much especially because it had very strong flavours of hops which I absolutely love.
A lighter beer was on the cards next – Oliver’s Light Ale. This is 3.4 per cent and nice and easy to drink. Not quite sure who Oliver is though!
I finished off with Old Man Ale, named after the nearby hill. A ruby ale with rich flavours combined with a smooth taste, this 4.8 per cent-er is ideal for lovers of more traditional ales.
The pub itself is lively yet welcoming with a main bar area as well as a resident’s lounge where we sat. Coniston generally have something to appeal to everyone with their range and it’s definitely worth the trek to go for a trip. As well as sampling the majority of the range while we were there, we also came back with a few bottles and the brewery does seem to be increasing in popularity with their flagship Bluebird Bitter available in supermarkets (the Tesco on Market Street in Manchester city centre at least!)
And if you’re wondering, breakfast was a hearty fry up with lots of toast!