Bowland Is Buzzing

Inspired by the wildlife and moorlands of Bowland, the cask beers crafted by artisans in the heart of Clitheroe, are world-renowned

We all know that we live in a little part of England that is well known for its stunning rural location – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) featuring 300 square miles of wild, upland landscape.

However, lovers of craft beer have come to know the Ribble Valley AONB in a different context – a place where Ales of Outstanding Natural Beauty are lovingly crafted and nurtured by Andrew Warburton, who has been at the helm of Bowland Brewery for the past eight years.

With ‘outstanding’ being a key word at the micro-brewery, Drew and his small team are passionate about the ingredients and traditional methods used in producing their award-winning cask ales.

Bowland’s Pheasant Plucker, which features British hops, will represent the North West at London’s Olympia next year after winning a gold award in CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain 2022 – a huge accolade for a small brewery that started life in a tiny milking parlour at Bashall Barn on the edge of the Forest of Bowland.

The brewery, which was then a one-man band, was already supplying the Emporium in Clitheroe and the Lower Buck in Waddington, which Drew was running at the time: “We knew the owner and the brewery was his baby – so when it became available we knew we had to have it.

“At the time micro-breweries were unheard of – Bowland Brewery was a real one-off and when we got it, it was a steep learning curve. Once we had acquired the brewery, we needed to find a bigger home for it,” recalls Drew, whose brother James has the James’ Places group of country inns, bars and restaurants.

“James said to me, ‘I’ve found the perfect place for the brewery’. I think Holmes Mill had already been signed on the dotted line by then and when he took me there to show me what he had in mind I really thought he had lost the plot – it was enormous!”

Initially the brewery was housed temporarily in what is now the Food Hall at Holmes Mill: “We had to have all the kit made to measure,” explains Drew.

The ‘kit’ included huge 30-barrel brushed stainless steel hot and cold liquor (water) tanks, a mash tun (that turns the liquor to ‘wort’) and eight fermentation tanks.

“It was very much a case of learning on the job but I was lucky to inherit Scott and the small team, so I learnt everything from them.”

Today Bowland beer is brewed beneath the iconic chimney at Holmes Mill, behind the Beer Hall which features one of the longest bars in the country. Visitors to the Beer Hall can see the dedicated team of artisans crafting the cask beers and the gleaming fermentation tanks – each named after famous Bowland fells including Parlick, Easington and Fellsnape.

Bowland Brewey has a stable of core beers, introduces seasonal beers throughout the year and occasional ‘one-offs’ – which will include a Jubilee edition this summer.

Quirkily named and branded, the core line-up has a recent new addition following fantastic feedback from buyers and customers – Bowland Bumble – a 4% ABV blonde, lightly-hopped ale that started out as one of Bowland Brewery’s seasonal ales back in 2018.

Having been recently introduced to a bee-keeping couple from Rimington, Bowland Brewery now has its own beehive just six miles from Holmes Mill, that will produce the honey that goes into brewing Bumble.

“We have always used locally sourced honey to create Bowland Bumble Honey Beer but we felt that it was a great way for us to support the bee population by having our own hive.

“We’re working with a local farm, who will keep our bees and help us to harvest the honey. We thought it would be fantastic also to have a webcam so people can see the honey being made and harvested.

“The bees will travel throughout the Forest of Bowland and beyond, pollinating flowers, fruits and vegetables as they go. The flavours come back with the bee and eventually make their way into the honey, creating a unique flavour profile for our beer.

“We have always been inspired by this area of Bowland when creating our beers and we are passionate about supporting this stunning landscape, so introducing our own beehives is a natural choice. It really fits with our story.”

Bowland Bumble now sits alongside award-winning Pheasant Plucker and other core beers that include Bowland’s flagship Hen Harrier, Boxer Blonde, Bowland Gold, Buster IPA and Deer Stalker – each having been inspired by the wildlife of Bowland, yet each having their own distinctive identity.

Artists Clare Brownlow and Sophie Jordan have both helped captivate the wildlife in their unique styles to develop recognisable branding within the core range.

When Andrew started out on his Bowland Brewery journey little did he know it would lead him to producing world-class cask ales that are widely recognised and sought-after: “We are very lucky to be in such a fabulous location. When we set out, we knew everything had to be just right – no half measures – and it has worked. We have just had our busiest month ever!”



Tedd Walmsley

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Tedd Walmsley managing director of Live Magazines shares his views on the latest topics in media.

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