In the past year, my other half has gotten me more in to drinking and actually enjoying beer. So when there was an opportunity to take a tour around the Hillside Brewery in Gloucestershire, I jumped at the chance. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on dates – I’m sure Paul was sick of me by the end! – we settled on 18th November and it soon came upon us.
We both felt excited to get a behind-the-scenes look at a local brewery as we set off to the Hillside Brewery; something we’d never done. The grounds looked beautiful, even in the atmospherically moody mist and rain. We could imagine that it would look stunning on a clear day! Peter, Paul’s friendly dad, co-founder and leader of the A-Team (sorry Paul!), greeted us upon arrival. At the bar, he proceeded to dive straight in and poured us two half pints to enjoy whilst we waited.
After the last of the tour group arrived, Peter started to tell us all about the Hillside Brewery. The duo founded the brewery in 2014 and had no prior experience in brewing before taking it on. Not that it shows in the slightest! The more Peter spoke, the more it was evident that he and his son love beer and love making it. Their excitement for creating different ales, brewing popular flavours and generally doing what they do best was lovely to see.
Hillside Brewery prides itself on being a small establishment, although it certainly doesn’t look that way. The brewery felt really established and the team clearly know what they’re doing. Another great thing is that it’s an eco-friendly company. You can read more about their ‘green ethos‘ on the website but it was brilliant to see that they are aware and take care of the environment.
Peter told us that there would be a wide spectrum of beers to taste and that our upbringing would determine which we liked and didn’t like. We also learnt that the three important factors to a good ale are the head, colour and aroma. Plus, unlike wine, you have to swallow to get the full taste.
Then came the beers themselves…
First up was the Pinnacle and it was definitely one of my favourites. A pale amber ale that’s fruity, light and slightly bitter. It was the perfect choice to start the tour off on a high note.
The next beer we tasted was Over The Hill, a dark mild beer with a slight hint of coffee and relatively low percentage – thus, a healthy-ish beer! This was probably our least favourite, but only because it was very strong and we prefer more subtle tastes. But it is still one of the more popular bottles sold and it was even featured in the Independent’s Top 10 Low-Alcohol Beers.
As we drank, Peter carried on giving us lessons on yeast, chemistry and hops – did you know, hops closest relative is Cannabis?! We even got to crush and smell different varieties, some of which were lovely but others not quite so much. We also learnt about the importance of water and that they have their own supply on site. It was all very interesting!
Our third ale to try was the Legless Cow and Dave’s favourite. This amber bitter was smooth to drink and full of warming and tasty flavours.
Once the glasses were empty, Peter took us to the Brew House, the site for the brewing of c.3000 litres per day. We then headed to the Bottling Room. In here, the bottles – c.1000 per shift – are individually filled and labelled, then boxed and sold. They have their process down to a tee! We then headed back for our last taster.
The fourth and final beer was my favourite. Summit is a dark ruby ale that was the perfect mix of bitter and sweet, creating a beautifully rich and delicious beer. Each batch is tested by instrument and mouth before it’s released…with all the delicious flavours, I couldn’t think of a better job!
As the tour came to an end, we wandered towards the shop with beer sloshing in our bellies and brains full of new knowledge. The tour was fantastic and would highly recommend it to anyone – it’d make the perfect Christmas present! One extra bonus to the ‘Full Tour’, is that we got to take four bottles of beer away – four! We chose three Legless Cows and one Summit from the on site shop, all thoroughly enjoyed at home.
Peter and Paul have done an amazing job with the award-winning Hillside Brewery and it was wonderful to see so much passion invested. We can’t wait to visit again and already planning to make it along to one of the events in Summer, as they sound great fun.
To book a Hillside experience – including a choice of Brewery Tours, ‘Brew Your Own’ and experience days – click here…you won’t be disappointed!
*In exchange for an honest review, Dave & I received a complimentary Full Brewery A-Team Tour. All views and full beer bellies are our own.