You couldn't call Penrith a Beer Mecca. Not unless your idea of such a thing is a endless sea of crap British lager and John Smith's Smooth. The Good Beer Guide has two entries. Our coach parked at one, the Agricultural Hotel, a Jennings tied house. Most of our thirsty mob swarmed in. Me, E and Tyson thought we'd make a start at the furthest away pub, the Lowther Arms, figuring it would be quieter and we could nip back up the hill and, with the coach handily parked outside, sup to the last available second. Clever huh?
Now the Lowther Arms isn't a cheery pub exactly, being decorated in rather brown colours, but it was empty and had six beers on. We scanned the pump clips for inspiration, with all of us settling on Adnam's East Green. Served by a gorgeous bow fronted barmaid, who ran the pub charmingly on her own (it got rather busy soon after.) We all enjoyed this golden beer with its spicy and bitter notes. So good in fact we drank it dry before the hordes, tiring of Jennings, swept down the hill. Also decent was the rare Palmer's Copper Ale. A half of Everard's Tiger was also tried by E and was frankly rather poor.
On the way back up the hill, we passed quite a few pubs. Tyson and I nipped in to each. Most were keg or had one pump selling Black Sheep and most were empty. The Agricultural was devoid of our party when we got in - the tactic worked. We chose the seasonal, Swan's Lake. It was a copper/ chestnut brown, full bodied and malty with a good hop finish. It was a good old fashioned best bitter. I liked it a lot. We switched to Cumberland Ale, which Tyson preferred and then back in my case to the Swan's. Alas the barman was nowhere near as attractive as the server in the Lowther - not to me anyway - but the beer was immaculate and the place was packed. See? A decent choice of cask ale in peak condition always attracts customers. But we knew that didn't we?
Photos show some of the cask choice at the Lowther Arms and Tyson being startled by a beer drinking ghost!
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