Apart from blogging myself, I also like to read other peoples blogs and one blog I have been reading is by Dave who is the owner and brewer and pretty much the Basil Faulty (in a good way) of The Woolpack Inn. It is nestled in the heart of Eskdale near the little village of Boot. Short of a Helicopter, the only way to get there is by very narrow roads 1. If using a sat-nav, the shortest route is the Hardknott pass and this is probably the most fun road you will ever come across. It is also the most nerve racking. Do not attempt this in an underpowered car loaded as it will not make it up the steep slopes. The scenery is worth it but you will probably use your brakes up and need new ones. The other longer route has slightly better approach roads and the main A595 is a decent enough country road.
Sheep are everywhere in Cumbria and perhaps it is fitting that the sign over the main Pub says Woolpack Baa. The pub is a favourite among walkers who either stay at the Inn itself or perhaps at the local campsite.
We stayed at the Inn for 2 nights and found it very comfortable and surprisingly quiet given the age of the building. The food served there was fantastic. The breakfast (included) was pretty amazing. Both mornings I had the Cumbrian fry which consisted of Bacon rashers, Cumbrian sausage, mushrooms, tomato, Black pudding, fired egg and lambs kidney. I opted not to have the kidney. One thing to note, you will not find ketchup or brown sauce etc. Dave believes bought in sauces detract from the flavour of good food and he is right. There was so much flavour packed in that I did not miss ketchup or brown sauce. The black pudding was amazing. Dave gets everything he can possibly get from local farmers/suppliers and the quality shows.
Breakfast aside the dinner menu was pretty fancy and I enjoyed it immensely. We only ate there one night, opting for a pub in Boot the following night for something different. I had a lovely roast pork and the others had probably the softest and most tender Fillet steak they have ever had. I tasted a little and it was lovely. The desert menu was also impressive and all of it is made to order, there are no bought in pre packaged deserts.
The main reason for going to the Woolpack was because it is a brewpub. Dave has a little brewery and serves his own beer as well as some of the best from local Cumbrian microbreweries.
When I arrived I had one of the last draws of his latest batch of Final Frontier which is an IPA style beer and was very very good.
His session ale is called Woolpacker and it is quite tasty.
I had a good few pints of his previous IPA, beyond the pale and that was lovely stuff too. I got to try some of his latest concoction called Zippy Red IPA. At 6.6% this is not a session beer but it is a very nice ale. It has a nice underlying malty sweetness. I only had a half pint as well as a little taster earlier in the evening. Dave also bottles some of his beers and I took some home with me. One of them is his stout which he did not have on cask so I am looking forward to that. Anyway I am having a taste session of his beers tomorrow night with some of the Irish Craft Brewers so there will be a more in depth blog post about his beer.
Of the local beers, Taglag was a very nice Ale. I did not get to try the Thirst Fall as it was out by the time I got to it.
On the first night everyone was tired but I decided to go down and get a whiskey to bring up to the room. I got this at the residents bar but was drawn in to take a look at the main bar and I did not leave till closing time. Some of you may have read about the Tokyo tasting that ensued? Well here are some of the culprits. Washy on the left as well as the lovely Lucy who terrorised the Tokyo by making a shandy with some lemonade (real stuff, not 7up). On the far right is Daves other half Ann. Dave of course is behind the bar. There were a few more for the tasting though including another Irish man but I can not remember his name. Oh I loved the Tokyo by the way, I must get some.
Before leaving I got a little tour of Dave's Brewery, excuse the mess but he has not cleaned it from the last brew and will have to do that for the next one now.
This thing that looks like a cow milking device is actually for bottling his beer, though he has also sent beer to be professionally bottled.
Dave has two Fermenters here with his boiler behind him.
Here is the mash tun. All 4 tubs look pretty much the same.
I highly recommend The Woolpack if you are either after a quiet get away in the arse of no where or if you are a walker. It is also a good romantic spot, the area is beautiful and the woolpack boasts a swanky room with a hot tub (room8). I would like to go back, perhaps go camping next time at the campsite near by and actually do some proper walking this time and spend the evenings at the woolpack. That sounds like fun.
For more info on the pub, take a look at the website.
1. You can technically get there by train, You can get the National rail train to Ravenglass and then get the mini steam railway to Boot.
A quick unrelated note, I am planning to start a new brew this weekend. Perhaps a Chocolate wheat beer for the upcoming Chocolate festival in Dublin at the end of October.