The History of Cask Ale

Check out this great film from our friends at The Craft Beer Channel. In the second part of their series about real ale in association with Fuller’s Brewery, they visited us and witnessed a brewday on our incredible victorian brewkit. They also had a chat with George Clarke about the importance of maintaining the traditions, heritage and processes of British brewers down the ages. This video is sponsored by Fuller’s Brewery.


Mashing In

The first job of the day, usually at about 6 am, is mashing. The crushed malt is mixed with hot liquor through a Steeles masher which then feeds down into one of the two mash tuns. Mashing-in itself takes 10 minutes, then the mash is allowed to stand for 90 minutes to allow the conversion of starch to fermentable sugars to take place. This is a process at Hook Norton Brewery that has not changed in over a 100 years. After standing for 90 minutes, the sweet sugary solution that is created (called wort) is drained from the mash tun, and is run by gravity to one of the two coppers. The mash is then sprayed with hot liquor through a rotating sparge arm, this allows all of the sugars to be washed from the malt to maximise the extract. The run off process takes approximately 2 ½ hours.


The Steam Engine

One of the most remarkable survivors of time at this iconic Victorian tower brewery is the 25hp steam engine that can drive the machinery, just as it has done for the past hundred years. Installed in 1899 it was used to provide the motive power that the brewery needed to produce its beer and it is believed to be the last steam engine in the country that can still be used for its original purpose. We run the Steam Engine on the first Saturday of each month.


Hoisting the Malt

Bags of Malt have to be hoisted up to the 2nd floor of the brewery so that they can then be stored and prepared ready for brewing.



The last stage of the brewing process is racking where the beer is run into casks, a process called racking. Secondary fermentation then takes place. Then follows the most important check of all! Representative samples of each rack are taken and set up on a stillage. They are checked to assess the quality and to monitor flavour throughout the life of the beer. The beers are checked each day and the assessments are recorded.


The Grist Mill

First of all the mill is checked to ensure that it has the correct crush characteristics. The mill rolls have to be set to give the desired blend of husk, grits and flour to allow good extract and efficient run off from the mash tun. Once it has been checked, the malt is crushed in the Grist mill from where it travels to the masher and then on to the mash tuns.


Delivering beer the traditional way

The horses usually make a local delivery on Wednesdays to the Sun Inn, Thursdays to the Pear Tree and Fridays to the Gate Hangs High (weather permitting). If you are planning a visit to the brewery and would like to see the drays on their delivery rounds it is always best to phone ahead and check that the shires will be working on that day. The tour of the brewery includes a tour of the stables and we aim to have the horses in the stables during your visit but this may not be possible due to operational or weather reasons.


Micro Brewery Tour

Here at Hook Norton Brewery, we brew small batch beers as well as one off brews on a smaller scale in our micro brewery. This allows us to trial different styles of beer and test new recipes.


Kegging our craft ales

Kegging is a process where CO2 is forced into the beer until it reaches the appropriate balance, measured in volumes of CO2 per volume beer. A keg is a sealed pressurised vessel that usually needs a C02 canister to dispense. The gas pushes the beer to the bottom of the keg and up the dispense tube (known as a spear) and out the tap.


Hop store

Here’s a quick insight into the Hops that we use to brew our beers here at Hook Norton Brewery.


Fermenting Room

What goes on in our fermenting room…


Beer, Stout and Lager Tastings

Outside Half


Double Stout


X Ale


Ironstone Lager

Crafty Fox Black IPA

Flagship IPA

Red Rye


Off The Hook IPA

Cotswold Pale Ale



Dartington Crystal

Dartington Glass, as it was known until the 1980s, was born in 1967 as one of the Dartington Hall Trust’s social enterprises in North Devon. It quickly became the most recognised manufacturer of simple yet functional glassware in the UK. Dartington’s vision was built on a clean and simple design style, handmade using age-old techniques of Scandinavian roots. For over 50 years, many notable design figures have come together to use their passion and skill to grow the brand into what is now the only remaining factory scale producer in the country. Our brewery shop stocks a variety of different handmade Dartington crystal products, these can be found here: