Brewery and distillery tours are increasingly popular with groups, offering a unique insight into the production processes of some of the UK’s favourie beverages. Amy Moore lists suitable sites to visit throughout the UK and nearby Europe
Windsor and Eton Brewery, Berkshire
Groups can enjoy a full day out that includes a two-and-a-half-hour river cruise with lunch, followed by a guided tour of the Windsor and Eton Brewery.
Available for a minimum of 20 people, Monday to Friday, the cruise departs from Windsor, and groups will be served a ploughman’s lunch whilst aboard the boat. In the afternoon, groups will disembark to enjoy an informative guided brewery tour at the Windsor and Eton Brewery, gaining insight into the beer making process demonstrated by professional brewers. There is also an opportunity to taste a variety of award-winning beers. The Cruise and Brewery package costs £32 per person. For more information visit www.frenchbrothers.co.uk.
Castle Rock Brewery, Nottinghamshire
Castle Rock is Nottingham’s largest full mash brewery and currently operates 20 pubs stocking locally brewed beers including Elsie Mo, Harvest Pale and Screech Owl. At the Navigation Brewery on Queensbridge Road, guided tours are available for a minimum of 10 people, with hot and cold food options provided. After being shown around, visitors can sample up to three beers in the visitor centre, pour their own drink, and have a souvenir photo taken behind the bar. Tickets cost £12 per person and the tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.
Afterwards, enjoy lunch in one of Castle Rock’s most iconic pubs, the Canalhouse. Opened in 2000 within the former Canal Museum, the Canalhouse has a unique feature – the adjacent Nottingham Canal extends through the building and there’s even two narrow boats moored up inside! For a more formal occasion, on the first floor there are conference and function facilities that can cater for up to 200 people.
To book, contact the Vat & Fiddle on 01159 850611, or for more information visit www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk.
Cotswolds Distillery, Warwickshire
Established in 2014, Cotswolds Distillery gets its name from the traditional Cotswolds building in which it is housed, set within five-acres of beautiful rolling countryside. The site sees the creation of a single malt whiskey and dry gin made with lavender from Snowshill.
Barley is sourced from farms mere miles away, with malt hand-made less than 50-miles from the site. Locally foraged botanicals are used to produce its flavoursome Cotswolds Gin.
The Cotswolds Distillery is the first of its kind in the area. Here, groups can embark on a bespoke distillery tour, where they will see the copper stills first-hand whilst learning more about the distilling process. The tour concludes, as every good distillery tour should, in the tasting room!
Stay at The Kingham Plough nearby where you’ll find high-end rooms and rustic dining, featuring traditional English food made with fresh, seasonal vegetables and local ingredients. To book call 01608 658327, or for more information visit www.thekinghamplough.co.uk.
Andwell Brewery, Hampshire
At Andwell Brewery, bespoke brewery tours are available for groups of 12 to 25 people.
Guided tours allow visitors to meet the Andwell’s team, learn how they craft quality real ales, sample the floor-malted hand-raked barley, take in the sweet aroma of hops, and see the fermentation process in action. The tour ends with a tasting and includes a free branded glass to take away, alongside a 10% discount redeemable in The Brewery Shop.
All brewery tours must be booked in advance, and prices start from £7.50 for a daytime tour or £12 for an evening tour. To book call 01256 761044, or email email@example.com. For more information visit www.andwells.com.
Palmers Brewery, Dorset
Founded in Bridport in 1794, Palmers Brewery maintains many of the same antique features it had 200 years ago. For example, its thatched roof is the only one of its kind to be found at a brewery in England. The water wheel, which was built in 1879, is still in use, in addition to the 19th century screening machine.
This small, independent brewery offers informative tours where groups can witness each stage of the brewing process, and at the end, participate in a beer tasting (or soft drink if preferred) in the Palmers Wine Store. Here, you will also receive a Palmers glass tankard to commemorate your visit.
Palmers Brewery is open to visitors from Easter until the end of October. Guided tours commence at 11am every weekday and last around two hours. Bookings for four or more people receive a discounted rate of £8 per person. Groups of 15 or more are welcomed throughout the year, with flexible timings available. To book call 01308 427500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.palmersbrewery.com or www.palmerswinestore.com.
Healeys Cyder Farm, Cornwall
Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm boasts the largest cider maker and orchard in Cornwall, and is famous for brewing and bottling an award-winning range of ciders, wines and fruit juices.
Home to drinks including Rattler, Cornish Gold and the Healeys Cornish Juice range, guided tours around the farm are available, including tractor rides around the apple-filled orchard, or a visit to the attraction’s new multi-million pound production facility, where groups can see the art of cider making in action.
There’s also the sweet-smelling jam kitchen where a range of preserves can be found bubbling away, as well as the press house, distillery and cellars, complete with barrel-loads of England’s oldest whisky.
Conclude your visit with free tastings of Healeys’ tipples and soft drinks, before relaxing in the restaurant with a cup of tea and a scone, complete with lashings of clotted cream and Healeys tasty jams.
There are plenty of tour options available, starting from £4 per person, with large group tours available for 20 people or more. For more information visit www.thecornishcyderfarm.co.uk or www.healeyscyder.co.uk.
St Austell Brewery, Cornwall
Creatively combining history and modern production, St Austell Brewery provides an insight into Cornwall’s past and present brewing processes.
Groups can learn more about the heritage of one of the South West’s oldest family businesses and see for themselves how the likes of Tribute, Proper Job and Korev are made. During a 90-minute tour, groups will discover all the key points in the brewing process, its unique history, as well as participate in a tutored tasting of St Austell beers.
Group bookings are welcome, and groups of over 15 people receive a 10% discount. The tour price includes a 90-minute tour, a tutored tasting with free samples, and two half-pints of beer (or a soft drink). Brewery tours cost £10 per person, with discounts for seniors and students.
After the tour, enjoy lunch at the Hicks Bar situated within the brewery building, which serves home cooked pub food made with locally sourced ingredients.
To book call 01726 66022, or for more information visit www.staustellbrewery.co.uk/brewery-visitor-centre.
The Lakes Distillery, Cumbria
Located next to Bassenthwaite in The Lake District National Park, The Lakes Distillery is housed within a beautifully renovated 1850s Victorian model farm, producing malt whisky, gin and vodka.
On a Lakes Distillery tour, groups are taken on a journey of distilling heritage that spans over 200 years.
During the tour, visitors will be able to observe the tools of the trade, oversee the working distillery, the stills, and the warehouse where the barrels are stored. The tour concludes with a visit to the tasting room, which includes a tasting session of three spirits - The One, The Lakes Gin and The Lakes Vodka.
Each ticket purchased includes a £5 discount voucher redeemable from the retail shop. Tours commence daily at 11am and run every 30 minutes. Tours last approximately 45 to 60 minutes and cost £12.50 per person. To book call 01768 788857, or for more information visit www.lakesdistillery.com.
Bowmore Distillery, Scotland
Founded in 1779, Bowmore is the first recorded distillery on Islay and boasts one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Islay malts are produced here with a characteristic smoky flavour, having been carefully smoked in a peat-fired kiln.
During the tour, visitors will encounter various production areas within the distillery, concluding with a dram of Bowmore and a complimentary Bowmore glass to take home. Guided tours cost £7 per person and last approximately one hour.
Enhance your experience with The Craftsman’s Tour, which includes a visit to the Bowmore Vaults. Tours are available Monday to Thursday, and must be pre-booked. The Craftsman’s Tour costs £55 per person.
Additional offerings include a Bowmore Tasting Session, where visitors can sample four Bowmore products, each demonstrating different maturations and flavours. A Bowmore Tasting Session costs £20 per person.
More enthusiastic groups can embark on a Master Distiller’s Tour, which includes a glance at the peat cutting process, indepth distillery tour, two-course lunch (served with whisky if desired) and a visit to the Bowmore Vaults where you can fill your own bottle. A maximum of six people are permitted, with the Master Distiller’s Tour costing £225 per person.
To book call the Visitor Centre on 01496 810441, or for more information visit www.bowmore.com.
Irish Whisky Museum, Dublin
The Irish Whisky Museum is the first of its kind, and is located close to the main entrance to Trinity College. Groups who embark on a guided tour can enjoy a vast collection of Irish whisky memorabilia that dates back to the 1800s.
A Standard Tour lasts around an hour, whereby groups visit five separate rooms and participate in a whisky tasting. Tours take place every 20 to 30 minutes and are suitable for parties of 10-plus.
Groups can upgrade to a VIP tour, which includes a sample of a more aged whisky, with the opportunity to take away a souvenir of your visit. Additional tour options include cocktail making and master blending.
The Irish Whisky Museum spans three floors, and can cater for group sizes of 10 to 100 for a team-building event or corporate function. A broader range of Irish whiskies can be provided upon request for private hire groups, or during a bespoke Whisky Tasting Experience.
There is a private coach drop-off/pick-up point available outside the venue. Groups of 10 or more cost €12 per person. For more information visit www.irishwhiskeymuseum.ie.
The Heineken Experience, Amsterdam
The Heineken Experience has been open to the public since 1991, offering a self-guided interactive journey through the world of Heineken.
Here, groups of 20-plus can discover the history of the Heineken Company, learn the four natural ingredients used, the brewing process and visit the tasting room. At the end of the tour, groups can enjoy two Heinekens, or learn how to draught the perfect Heineken themselves.
The self-guided tour lasts approximately one-and-a-half hours, with an audio tour available in nine different languages.
The Brew Rooms sits at the heart of the brewery, where there’s the opportunity to bottle your own Heineken, participate in The Draught Challenge, sample some beer at The Tasting Bar, hop aboard The ‘Brew You’ Ride, or purchase a souvenir in The Heineken Shop.
Standard adult admission costs €18, with groups of 20-plus receiving a discounted rate. For more information visit www.heineken.com/experience.