“If you like eating off the piston of a steam engine surrounded by beer this is the place for you!”
It’s a Friday and The Cooktwit has taken the day off work and has vowed to accrue some brownie points with The Flame on account of a forthcoming gentlemen’s trip to Portugal. I venture that a scoot to the Trough of Bowland is in order. We head north in wild anticipation. We slip gently through the lovely old town of Clitheroe, ‘hang on’ I proclaim, Im sure there’s an old mill being done up round here with a brewery attached! Lets stop briefly and check it out.
We stumble upon a sign for The Bowland Brewery Beer Hall. A heavily scaffolded old pile called Holmes Mill is soon upon us. It’s a former textile mill thats being transformed into a hotel, leisure and food complex. We venture in. Much of the outside stonework is buffed and painted. Contemporary signage points the way. We venture past a shop selling Bowland bottled beers and a well stocked ‘Gelateria’, we then enter the ‘Beer Hall’. Its nothing short of breath taking.
Inside, a huge oval bar, the size of a race track dominates, a platoon of uniformed bartenders gather us in. I didn’t count them but its claimed at least 24 cask ales are on tap. I looked on in awe. To the rear, via a huge glass wall, the huge Bowland Brewery beer tanks glisten. To the left more sections, the ‘chimney room’ and the ‘engine room’.
In my excitement I suggest we hole up here for lunch. The Flame surprisingly agrees. We settle into ‘The Engine Room’. Not a quaint little moniker for a corner snug. This really is THE ENGINE ROOM. We settle on one of the high tables for two that are arranged around the huge mill engine that makes up the centre piece of the space. It, along with the room has been lovingly spruced up to replicate its Victorian industrial past. Huge comfy chairs are dotted round. Clearly someone has laid out some serious wedge here. Its a quality makeover.
So what about the food? Well, its basic stuff really, beer food. The menu is a huge A3 card, beers on the back, food to the front. Theres no jus, foams or micro herbs on here. Its chips or fries with pies, puds, nibbles, burgers and other British pub classics. They even have chicken in the basket (which I nearly had). We pressed on and ordered. I settled in with a Bowland Brewery ‘Buster’ IPA and a big smile on my face. We drunk in the wonderful ambience.
I started with a scotch egg, encased in black pudding (£5.95). It came warm on a tin plate and a slick of brown sauce with a watercress salad. No oozing yolk from the egg, but armed with the brown sauce it was all rather good. A totally satisfying start.
For mains I went from the ‘Buns’ section and had the pulled beef brisket with beerhouse gravy and horseradish (£10.95). Served in a tin again on a brioche bun the brisket was copious, hot and tasty, the tang of horseradish adding its usual bite. The fries, hot and salty, but enhanced to almost historic when dipped in the fabulous beerhouse gravy. It was again very good.
The Flame had Jamaican jerk spiced chicken pieces with salad, coleslaw and chips (£12.95). Several hunks of boneless chicken thigh meat drenched in a warm spicy goo. The Flame absolutely loved it (despite being served in a tin). The morsel I had was super moist and tasty.
Sadly and somewhat bizarrely? They didn’t have a sweet menu. A nod one presumes to the fact that this is a beer hall after all. Sweets generally don’t go with beer in my experience. I suppose you could have had an ice cream from the ‘Gelateria’?
We settled up for thirty-eight of your english pounds. We both thoroughly enjoyed our time here. It reminded me of eating at the National Rail Museum in York or on St Pancras station. The surroundings are truly spectacular. Trying to be objective, would we have enjoyed the food as much in a more mundane setting? Possibly not, but if you are looking for a little adventure and somewhere completely different to eat and drink I’d definitely give the Bowland Brewery Beer Hall a go. They deserve it, they’ve certainly put their money where their mouth is. And anyway, I nipped up to Booths after and got an eton mess slice. Who needs a sweet anyway?
Bowland Brewery Beer Hall
Tel: 01200 401035