Beers of Ulverston
Over the last couple of days, I’ve finally been finishing off my Cumbria Way series with some random “post walk” blog posts. Unfortunately given the dominance of beer related posts on this blog over the last few weeks, the last one is about beer which makes me look like some sort of obsessive beer geek or something.
Oh well, such must it be then, as this post started right at the beginning of the Cumbria Way as I accidentally found myself walking up Brewery Street in Ulverston, which got me rather confused. A brewery? In Ulverston? I pondered this for a short time as my research before arriving hadn’t mentioned anything of the sort.
It was then that I suddenly thought… could it be Hartley’s?
It was then that I saw the confirmation – the Hartley’s Brewery itself. Or at least the former brewery – Hartley’s was bought by Robinson’s of Stockport years ago, and brewing finally ceased in Ulverston in 1991. It’s now a distribution depot, although many of the brewery buildings look half derelict.
Hyde, the town I grew up in seven miles east of Manchester, is a bit of a Robbie’s stronghold, being as it is, not too far from their brewery. Yet despite the brewery having a reasonable range of beers, the only ones you got in Hyde was their Best and Mild – now known as Unicorn and Hatters. I remember being rather surprised when entering one pub to find they actually brewed more than two beers, and promptly ordered a pint of Old Stockport Town.
Despite this, several of the pubs in the area were dual branded with both Robinsons and Hartleys logos on the front – although the closest I ever got to trying a Hartleys beer was when I saw a “Hartley’s Mild” pump in a pub in Mottram. Asking for it, the barmaid looked at me and clearly didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I never did get to the bottom of that one.
Instead it was at university that I first got to sample the former finest of Ulverston – our college bar used to stock Theakstons XB but every now and then for reasons I never knew, but probably consisted of the bar steward ordering the wrong thing, Harley’s XB would turn up.
Back in Ulverston, I naturally had plenty of Robinsons pubs to choose from. Many of the pubs still retained the Hartleys branding, although some that had clearly been refurbished recently had had the name replaced by Robinsons instead.
Inside the one such branded pub, The Rose and Crown, I was rather surprised to find not one of Robinson’s flagship brands available. Instead on its four handpulls, two featured Hartley’s beers – XB and an appropriately named Cumbria Way, whilst the other two Robbie’s beers I’d never come across, in the form of Dizzy Blonde and Double Hop.
Ulverston actually looks a good place for a pub crawl – the town centre is littered with fantastic looking pubs. Earlier in the evening, the manager at the hostel I was staying at had pointed to a town centre map to tell me where the good pubs were. I think he listed pretty much every one, and almost all of them were Robbinsons/Hartleys pubs…