Beer. Bowness Bay Brewing

The one big advantage of calling your beers Swan Blonde, Swan Black and Swift Best is that they’re named after some of the most famous inland passenger boats in England.

MV Swan and MV Swift are two of four ‘steamers’ belonging to Windermere Lake Cruises, the biggest tourist attraction in Cumbria, the whole fleet carrying well over a million people a year across England’s largest natural stretch of water. Bowness Bay itself, the main hub for the ‘steamers’, is often one of the busiest spots in the whole Lake District.

Swan Blonde was the first beer that Richard Husbands produced when in 2012 he turned his love of home brewing into a business. Initially Bowness Bay was based in the Winster Valley but the brewery moved to Kendal in 2014 to a site near the River Kent. Its brewery tap, a bar called The Barrel House, is next door. There’s a shop here too.

‘Immerse your taste buds in the compellingly crisp, deliciously dry hoppishness of Swan Blonde and sail away on a journey of gorgeously pale Lakeland water freshness. Made with light malts, and Pioneer, Aurora and Citra hops,’ Richard says of his best selling beer. 

His core range of ales - brewed ‘in a region renowned for delicious local produce and divine taste experiences’ - includes the three above plus Swan Gold, Fell Walker, Lakeland Blonde, Raven Red and Steamer IPA. ‘Steamers’ and the lake they sail on have inspired most of the names, his wife Kim creating distinct and very attractive labels for the bottled beers. 

Steamer IPA is an American-style IPA and a gold award winner, in two categories, at the Society of Independent Brewers Awards (north) in 2018. That’s some accolade and so is the fact that Bowness Bay’s low alcohol beer, Swan Free, received a bronze medal at the World Beer Awards 2020. 

In 2019 Richard acquired Appleby Brewery in Cumbria and Windmill Brewery near Wigan and he’s keen to break into the American market where he believes there’s a growing interest in session beers, generally those ales with under 5% ABV.

What may help him is the way he sells not just his beers but the Lake District itself, ‘a landscape like no other,’ as he describes it. ‘It’s these awesome, majestic, rugged, strong and beautiful surroundings that inspire our hand-crafted beers here at Bowness Bay Brewing. It’s not only our home, it’s the very essence of what we create – using the famous Lake District water to produce the freshest beer you’ll taste.’

Bowness Bay Brewing, Castle Mills, Aynam Road, Kendal LA9 7DE: 07823 347763, Nationwide delivery from the online shop but local delivery is free. Apart from the Barrel House, there’s also The Venue @ Bowness Bay Brewing, the entertainment venue open to the public - bookable tables only - on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Available for hire on other weekday days.

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