Thursday 28th April 2016
I think the Wild Boar may be the most upmarket brew-pub I have ever visited. It is located near the village of Crook in the Lake District, a couple of miles or so from Bowness on Lake Windermere.
It appears on maps is being in Mitchelland, although the postal address just mentions Crook. It is owned by the English Lakes Company.
This company has its origins in the 1950s when, on Christmas Day 1952, Norman Buckley purchased the nearby Low Wood Hotel.
He was a well-known sportsman of the time and held four water speed records during the 1950s. He added the Wild Boar to his estate on 8th August 1959. There are more hotels in the group these day and their most recent addition in 2009 was the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, a true classic of the Art Deco style that was built by the London Midland Railway in the 1930s.
Although the hotel has early, more humble origins as an inn on the road to Lake Windermere, I have been unable to find out anything about its early history, except that it is believed to have been established during the 17th Century.
Under the present ownership it has been extended many times with the last great expansion occurring in 2010 when a further seventeen luxury bedrooms where added along with the signature Smoke House. It now has 34 bedrooms at a four star category, some with wood-fired stoves.
It also has 72 acres of adjacent woodland dedicated for the use by guests. Its name has an interesting story and centres around Sir Richard de Gilpin. During the reign of King John a giant boar was terrorising the local populace.
He followed its tracks into the forest and killed it at the spot when the inn now stands. The adjacent small river was named as the Gilpin in his honour.
My first thoughts were that it was a strange location for a microbrewery, but when I learned that it also supplied two other hotels, the Low Wood Bay and the Waterhead, it became clear that it was a sustainable proposition.
It is a two and a half barrel (bbls) plant that turns out ten firkins of beer per brew.
It was installed during 2013 and its brewer is Tim Bloomer from the Fell Brewery at Flookburgh. See photo right, the brewery can be seen through the glass door.
When I visited with Russell there were two home-brewed beers on offer: Mad Pig Ale (4.0%), made with Centennial hops, and Blonde Boar (3.7%) which has a blend of American hops.
According to the barmaid we had just missed Hogs “54” (5.5%) which uses Chinook hops. They also brew Smoked Porter (4.5%) and Mild Boar (4.2%). Some of their beers are available in bottle.
It was early evening when we visited and after climbing a few steps to the main door we entered and discovered the wooden counter bar directly in front of us.
To our left was a roaring fire which was of the type that doubles as a stove with cast iron ovens on either side. Above it, staring out into the room, is a large stuffed boar’s head. After getting our beers we went to the right, passing the hotel reception to a room that seemed to be used by drinkers and casual diners.
The furniture here is very comfortable with varnished wooden tables with vases of daffodils. There were a lot of stuffed leather armchairs along with some fabric-covered settees. On the walls there are a large number of paintings, illustrations and old photographs of the area. To the left of another roaring open fire was a glass door that provides views of the small brewery. To the right of the bar counter is an extremely large room that is the main restaurant and considering it was a Thursday night, was very busy.
As alluded to earlier this hotel has its own smoke house where meats, fish and cheese are cured. They offer courses in home smoking, sounds interesting! They do brewery tours combined with a smoke house visit. There are also malt whisky tasting sessions. So, apart from the excellent beers, there are plenty of reasons to visit this pub / hotel and even to spend a night here.
The Wild Boar, Crook LA23 3NF Tel: 0154 945225
Hours: Monday-Sunday 12.00-23.00
Food is served as follows: Monday-Thursday: 12.00-14.00, 18.30-21.00;
Friday-Saturday: 12.00-14.00, 18.00-21.00; Sunday: 12.30-14.30, 18.30-21.00
This is an extremely remote pub and is not served by public transport.
The nearest railway station is Windermere and taxis are readily available from there.