Think of Cartmel, Cumbria and you might settle on drooling memories of sticky toffee pudding and the excitement of Cartmel races. A medieval village in North West England, Cartmel is a bustling little town fit to bursting with lovely trinket shops, cafes, traditional pubs and some serious dining calibre (two Michelin starred L’Enclume to name just one such establishment).
Of particular interest for us on a recent visit was a ‘one-stop’ clutch of fantastic producers and suppliers around the very foodie friendly ‘Unsworth’s Yard’. It offers everything you need to eat, drink, be merry and then to settle down for a night stuffed full of Cumbria’s finest in a cottage right on your doorstep.
It seems Unsworth’s Yard has been in the current owners’ family for nearly 100 years and was originally home to a number of motoring businesses. Now, it features a cheese shop, ‘try before you buy’ wine shop and brewery as well as a tea shop, kitchenware store and self-catering cottage. What’s not to love?
After a perusal through the wonderful cheeses offered from the aptly titled ‘Cartmel Cheeses’ store and a gander around ‘Hot Wines’, taking in their range of fine wines, liquors, cocktails and tasters, we settled ourselves into Unsworth’s Yard Brewery.
This tiny brewery focusses primarily on creating traditional ales and lagers from its 5-barrel brewhouse with local history and heritage at the heart of its inspiration and styling. The owners (brothers Peter and David, supported by brother-in-law Mark) are keen to focus exactly on what they do well and it seems to work! Having started business only 5 years ago to compliment the yard’s setting, demand is now outstripping supply for Unsworth’s Yard Brewery’s 7 beers. The brewery will work full time between Easter and Christmas producing around 3,000 pints per week.
Nestled under the village’s medieval priory and set in the heart of the courtyard, the brewery opens its doors daily to enthusiasts, the intrigued and the thirsty. Visitors can not only watch the process and chat with the friendly owners, but they can also enjoy a pint, bottle or flight of signature ales and they can take bottles home too.
We enjoyed a flight of Crusader Gold (Golden Ale), Last Wolf (Red Ale) and The Flookburgh Cockler (a Stout Porter). The Gold, a beer in honour of the founder of Cartmel Priory and ‘the greatest knight’ himself, Sir William Marshal came out on top for us as well as the Red although the Stout Porter was surprisingly tasty – rich and packed with dark chocolate and caramel flavours. We then enjoyed a bit more Last Wolf and a bottle of the more lager-like ‘Sandpiper’. You can find their full range here: http://www.unsworthsyard.co.uk/our-beers/
The atmosphere inside the tasting room was relaxed and chatty with various punters chipping in to ask questions of the two owners who were happy to engage on everything from their choice of malt to how they name their new styles. It was interesting to us as relative hop-novices (only a short introduction over a beer or 3 with Northern Alchemy last year) to see the hops and malt used by the brewery listed along with their origins, placing great emphasis on the provenance of the beer’s ingredients.
This place is definitely worth a visit. It was enjoyable on a rainy March afternoon and it will be superb in the summer. We’re already looking forward to sitting in the yard with a flight of beers, some good wine and a plateful of cheese and sausage rolls from the cheese shop. All we need is a dog to complete the picture, if anyone is willing to loan us one? See you soon.