Based in the heart of the Lake District, beside the River Kent in Staveley, you’ll find a craft brewery specialising in small batch and limited edition beers creating a legacy in Cumbria.
Inspired by the craft beer revolution, Hawkshead Brewery quickly became home to an eclectic range of bold, innovative beers, ales, stouts and sours. Passionate about creating a drink that’s distinctive, full of flavour, handmade and perfectly crafted, it comes as no surprise that it soon made its way onto the shelves at Booths.
Head Brewer Matt Clarke, who started his career as a cask washer back in 2006, has since guided innovation and continues to push the boundaries of brewing and has developed the range of unique, exciting flavours that we’ve grown to love here at Booths.
Since 2002, Hawkshead Brewery has pioneered modern, innovative beers and source their hops from unique locations around the world. Constantly learning and improving is one of the many things that make Hawkshead Brewery so unique, and the craft beers at Booths so spectacular.
We asked Matt a few questions:
How did you start brewing? I didn’t plan to end up here! I’m from New Zealand originally, but I took a couple of years out, came over, met a girl and bought a house. Now we’ve been together for 15 years and we’ve got two children. I’d always had an interest in food and drink, and it was a time when people were just starting to appreciate different styles in beer. I took a postgraduate diploma in brewing and joined Hawkshead in 2005. In 2009, Alex Brodie handed over the job of Head Brewer to me.
What’s your favourite beer? It changes daily, but my desert island beer is Windermere Pale, which we sell exclusively through Booths. It cuts through anything, and it’s great with a cheeseboard or white meat.
What do you like about working with Booths? We’re quite a niche brewery, and we’re working at capacity. It’s good to supply a company like Booths, where we can maintain the supply without stretching ourselves too much. And like Booths, Hawkshead is a family business, so our values are compatible. We’re still a micro-brewery and it’s very hands-on here. All the hops are broken up by hand, and the process is quite labour-intensive. Some of the bigger breweries have a much more automated approach and it’s all laboratory controlled, whereas our small scale means we can do a lot of experimenting.
What does Christmas mean to you? Christmas starts when the decorations go up, and that’s when I’m allowed to open my bottle of port. Growing up in New Zealand, I’m used to Christmas in 30-degree heat and sitting down to a barbecue in the evening. But it’s definitely more festive over here. Michele, my partner, is a chef, so she cooks, and I don’t get a look-in. We do it traditionally: turkey, three kinds of stuffing, pigs in blankets which we fight over, and all the condiments we can get on the table. Of course, I miss my family, but it’s much easier with Skype and social media. We watch them having their Christmas morning, and by the time they’re finishing up in the evening, we’re getting up. It’s like having two bites of the cherry.