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Cumbria Way Pubs: Rosthwaite-Keswick; Keswick Pubs; Keswick, Jennings and Cumbrian Legendary Ales

September 23, 2012 5 comments

Some scaling back of our ambitions for the Cumbria Way was required after Kate’s injury. After completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks a few weeks previously, I was determined that walking is something to be done to increase happiness, not to endure misery merely for the sake of achievement. So we decided that we weren’t going to complete the Cumbria Way on this occasion, but we would do one more relatively flat section, to take us to Keswick.  This involved skipping the section between Elterwater and Rosthwaite (much of which we had done before) to avoid the ascent and descent of Stake Pass.

After being dropped off in the village of Rosthwaite, another relatively sunny morning meant that we had a lovely couple of hours walking through farmland, woodland, by caves and over disused slate quarries alongside the River Derwent, before we got to the foot of Derwent Water. From there there was a pleasant lakeside walk for a few miles before the Cumbria Way leaves the lake for a less interesting walk through managed woods and through the village of Portinscale before entering Keswick.

I wasn’t entirely enthused by what I’d read about the pubs in Keswick, but we wanted a pint and some food at the end so we first tried the Dog & Gun, the only Keswick pub in the 2012 Good Beer Guide. It turned out that the pub wasn’t so much dog-friendly as seemingly run entirely for the benefit of dogs, with posters all over the place for doggy treats sold in “a new poo-bag for you to use afterwards”.

The range of beers was fine if not amazing, with Cumbrian Legendary Ales Loweswater Gold and Keswick Landlord’s Choice both pleasant and refreshing enough. The Dog & Gun wasn’t serving food any more so we moved on to try The George Hotel (looked fine, but had stopped serving food and was therefore empty by 3pm) and eventually the Oddfellows.

The Oddfellows only had Jennings on cask, but a Cumberland Ale and Sneck Lifter were both sufficiently satisfying to accompany our cheesy chips. The service was good and the food came quickly, although the pub, covered in horse-racing memorabilia, looked a little tired and had that oddly quiet, sombre atmosphere traditional pubs can have on a weekday afternoon, despite having quite a few customers in.

Our couple of hours in Keswick reminded me that the majority of pubs are merely alright, and that great pubs, like the Black Bull in Coniston or the Britannia Inn in Elterwater, should be appreciated.

Beer Reviews Andy has subsequently suggested the Bank Tavern as another option in Keswick.  If you have any tips for good pubs in or around Keswick for Cumbrian Way walkers, please let me know in the comments. 

Let The Right One In: Croglin Vampire

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment

At the National Winter Ales Festival, Jeff Pickthall, the hairy godfather of Cumbrian beer, kindly gave me a bottle of Cumbrian Legendary AlesCroglin Vampire to review.  I’ve tried Cumbrian Legendary Ales’ beers only once before when I had  their Loweswater Gold in Burgundy’s in Kendal.  I found it to be a very light, pale, drinkable beer but not quite interesting enough to merit a second pint.

Croglin Vampire can’t be accused of being uninteresting.  An 8% doppelbock, it pours a reddish brown and gives off a rich port smell.  The yellow head dispersed quickly.  It had a rich, tongue-coating viscosity.  The rich taste is of a deep maltiness containing sour fruits and a slightly iron-like, appropriately bloody quality.

I have to confess that I’m not entirely familiar with the doppelbock style, and have yet to try Paulaner Salvator, for example.  Wikipedia informs me that, “Historically, doppelbock was high in alcohol and sweet, thus serving as “liquid bread” for the monks during times of fasting, when solid food was not permitted.”  I would not recommend having Croglin Vampire on an empty stomach, for it may induce either beatific visions or, more likely, darker consequences.

This made me think that I’d like to explore the style more.  It also made me want to try the rest of Cumbrian Legendary Ales’ range, which include a Cascade-hopped bitter called Dickie Doodle.  For the life of me I don’t know why this isn’t the house beer in Dickie Doodle’s in Kendal.  They’re missing a trick.

Thanks very much to Jeff for the bottle.

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