Friday 1st May 2015
Burgundy’s Wine Bar has been established for some time in the centre of Kendal. Although obviously selling good wine it is also a well-regarded outlet for cask beers, being in existence for almost thirty years. Its story took a radical twist in 2011, however. Owner Mike Pennington had always held the desire to open a brewery and in that year his dream came true.
The Kendal Brewery was born. As a consequence the operation was renamed Burgundy’s Wine Bar and Brewhouse.
Burgundy’s is in Lowther Street yet the Brewhouse extension is mostly located on a lower level. It has a separate entrance in Tanner’s Yard, an alleyway at the rear of the property. This runs down from the High Street. Just to make sure you find it there is a sign over the entrance to the alley and when you reach the building there are no less than four more!
This was the way Russell and myself approached the pub. We went into the stone-built building and were a little surprised. It was very modern. We settled in front of the L-shaped wooden bar on what suspiciously looked like a kitchen table.
Yet, don’t get the wrong impression about this bar as it is very comfortable indeed, with a lot of plush armchairs and sofas, some stuffed leather also some are upholstered.
The outside walls are of untreated grey stone. At the right side (from the door) of the room, there is another level above and the supporting columns are also made of the same material. Behind the bar is the glass-enclosed brewery. The brewing room is accessed through a pair of Art Dèco doors that were once in a cinema at Barrow-in-Furness.
The brewery is of 2 barrels (bbls) capacity which would produce around 7 firkins (of 8 gallons) per brew. It was constructed in Manchester and assembled in the pub. The first test brew was made on Saturday 29th October 2011 and the first commercial brew was on the 9th of December. The brewery and Brewhouse were officially declared open on the 21st December 2011. The brewer is Hans Krüger, who had previously brewed with the Derwent Brewery in Silloth.
They aim to brew twice a week and have developed a range of beers. One of the first, or maybe the first, was Auld Kendal (5.7%), based on an 1897 recipe of the Whitwell & Marks Brewery of Kendal. Briefly, they were founded in 1757 by John Whitwell, later becoming a limited company. In 1947 they were taken over by Vaux of Sunderland with the brewery closing in 1968. It is still with us as the Old Brewery Arts Centre.
Other beers brewed: Silver Tanner (4.4%), a tan coloured ale in the best bitter style; Eleven Bells (3.9%), a blonde ale; Helga’s Dunkel Bier (3.7%), a take on the German Dunkelbier style, although 1.0% weaker than the originals. Then there was Pale Ale (4.2%); Grisleymines Stout (4.8%), Gold (4.3%), a medium strength golden ale.
There are at least two special beers. For the Kendal Mountain rescue was Mountain Medicine (5.3%), a strong golden ale, quite unusual. 50p for each pint sold goes to the organisation. In September they brew Torchlight CarnivAle (4.0%) to coincide with the Kendal Torchlight Carnival. The pub donates an amount to the organising committee of this event.
There were three beers on the Brewhouse bar that day and these were Eleven Bells, Gold and Mountain Medicine. Three different golden ales, one low strength, one medium, a strong. Well we had all three, although only a half of the latter. They were all well liked.
To leave we went up the stairs to the Wine Bar, and confused ourselves slightly as there are two routes! Things are a lot different here. It has a nice traditional pub atmosphere with a wooden fronted bar counter with a tiled top. The furniture is of the normal pub type with a fitted corner unit and wooden tables and low stools. There is also an upturned barrel and some tall stools alongside a shelf on the wall, please photograph, below left.
The beer selection was different with two from the home side and three guest beers. Gold was available in the Brewhouse below, however they also had Grisleymines Stout.
As luck would have it, Russell was delayed leaving the pub and so I a grabbed a quick half, and drank it possibly a bit too rapidly, but I knew it was good.
In contrast to the other bar there were guest beers: Lancaster (Lancaster) Brewery Lemon Grass (4.0%); Yates (Wigton, Cumbria) Golden Ale (3.9%) and LWC St George English Pale Ale (3.8%).
The latter is a slight enigma as it is a contract brew for LWC (Licensed Wholesale Company), a national drinks distributor. Previously their cask products have been brewed by Marston’s, presumably at Bank’s, Wolverhampton or Molson-Coors, brewery unknown. Possibly at their large Burton plant but they would have be tanked to another brewery, as there is no longer a casking line there. If these beers are worth promoting I wonder why we don’t know of their provenance?
Back to Kendal, food is available from Tuesday to Saturday between 12.00 and 17.00. There are light meals and sandwiches on the menu. This pub is well worth visiting if you are Lakeland as it is unlikely you will obtain their beers anywhere else.
The Kendal Brewhouse and Burgundy’s Wine Bar, 19 Lowther Street, Kendal LA9 4DH
Tel: 01539 733803
Brewhouse: Tuesday-Wednesday 12.00-17.30; Thursday-Saturday 12.00-24.00
Burgundy’s Wine Bar: Sunday 18.00-24.00; Monday 17.30-24.00;
Tuesday-Wednesday 18.00-24.00; Thursday 17.00-24.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-24.00
Directions from Kendal station are a little complex. Go out of the station and down the approach slope to Shap Road. Turn right and cross over the intersection into Wildman Street. Continue in the same direction over the bridge into Stramongate. Keep going after this street becomes pedestrianised to the junction with Sticklandgate. Turn left here and on the left you will find Lowther Street. Alternatively, go on a few more feet and go left down Tanner’s Lane. This is signed for the Brewhouse.
Staveley railway station is on the Oxenholme to Windermere line. It is served by an irregular interval timetable that is not necessarily hourly, so you need to check times before travel.
At Oxenholme there are connections to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham and London.
Bus 555 starts in Lancaster (hourly, every 2 hours on Sunday) to Kendal.
The 555 continues through Windermere and on to Ambleside through Grasmere to Keswick.
It is a very useful route, serving many good pubs and passing through beautiful scenery.