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26th September 2014

Craft brewery serves ‘brewer’s Holy Grail’ on mountainside

A BREWERY has staked a claim for setting up what may be the highest ever bar in England by serving their stunning craft beer on a Western Lakes fellside.


Dave Bailey, who runs Cumbria’s Hardknott Brewery with his partner Ann Wedgwood, said they had discovered the  “brewers’ Holy Grail” by making their 1.9% ABV Juxta Beer which combined low alcohol and genuine depth of flavour.


Mr Bailey and his team lugged a keg of the beer to the shores of the picturesque Sprinkling Tarn, in the Lake District National Park, on Sunday (September 21).


Mr Bailey used the water from the tarn to cool the Juxta Beer and then served pints to passing walkers. A tap was attached to a convenient pile of stones, which is probably also the first time a cairn has been used as a bar.


Mr Bailey said: “We like to produce beers that are very special. We think beer is something that can, and should, go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle and enjoyment of the beautiful scenery we have in this country. We’ve been thinking of various ways we could show how serious we are about the subject, and this is a very direct and hands-on way of demonstrating that commitment.


“Making a really good low ABV beer, packed with flavour, is the brewers’ Holy Grail. It’s easy to pile in malt, hops, and wacky ingredients, which can often mask faults in a beer. But to make a full flavoured and satisfying beer with such a low ABV takes skill and knowledge. We wanted to prove we could do it. We wanted to show the world that we can make stunning craft beers right across the range of ABVs, from sub 2% right through to 10 times this at 20% ABV.


“We like to describe what we produce as stunning craft beer from the Western Lakes. Juxta Beer, will show people that a lower alcohol beer can be just as stunning as stronger drinks. This beer gives a full hoppy flavour, provided by Hardknott’s own dry hopping methods, to give a beer that is just as worthy of the title craft beer as anything four times its alcohol content.


“You are no less a person for choosing this beer. Indeed it shows your true appreciation without having to pretend to be big. Perhaps you’ve been out on the fells all day and you need to hydrate, this is perfect for just that occasion.”


The Hardknott team set off early from Wasdale Head using a rucksack to transport the 20kg keg three miles to Sprinkling Tarn, which is at an altitude of 598m and lies in the shadow of the 910m Great End.


Mr Bailey added: “We used a KeyKeg and one of the great things about this technology is that it does not need CO2 to dispense the beer. Instead we were able to use compressed air from a human powered foot pump and the waters of Sprinkling Tarn to cool a length of pipe so that the beer was served cold.


“The weather was brilliant and we drew quite a crowd for a while, with people in disbelief as they walked up to us and we offered them a free beer. I certainly don’t think you’ll come across many bars at this sort of altitude. We did a steady trade, giving away all 20 litres, and I am happy to say that made carrying the empty keg downhill a lot easier than taking it up.”


To find out more about Hardknott’s beers go

To watch a video of the “highest bar in England” go to