93. Drinking in the Cotswolds

The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold dates back to 987AD and lays claim to be England's oldest inn.Hook Norton Brewery has a rich history and each week its team of magnificent working shire horses are harnassed to pull its loaded dray to make deliveries around the local area.The Cotswolds really does have it all for anyone who enjoys a drink.

Not only are there scores of great pubs across the area, but the area is also home to a number of breweries, while drinkers can indulge their passion at various beer festivals held throughout the year.

With so many wonderful pubs dotted around the beautiful towns and villages of the Cotswolds, it would be wrong to single any out because they all possess their individual character and charm.

However, it must be mentioned that among all the historic pubs in the Cotswolds, The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold (formerly the Royalist Hotel) lays claim to be the location of the oldest inn in England with a history dating back to 987AD.

As well as all of its great pubs, the Cotswolds is home to some wonderful breweries. One of the most historic is Donnington Brewery, near Stow-on-the-Wold, where the Arkell family have been producing beer for 150 years in a building that dates back to 1291. The original mill wheel is still used to drive pumps and machinery to brew Donnington beer the same way as it did in 1865. Donnington ales are served at 17 tied houses in the Cotswolds, as well as a number of free trade outlets.

Hook Norton Brewery, located in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, has been brewing beer for a little over 150 years and is a proudly independent and passionate family business. One of only 32 family-owned breweries, Hook Norton is the finest example of a Victorian tower brewery in the country. It welcomes over 10,000 visitors a year to its visitor centre and more than 40 of its pubs are at the heart of local communities.

Among the newer breweries in the Cotswolds is The Cotswold Brewing Company, based off the FosseA bottle of Old Hooky, one of Hook Norton Brewery's most famous ales. Way at Bourton-on-the-Water. A family-owned and run company, it was one of England's first micro-breweries, making kegged lagers and speciality beers using traditional methods.

This is possibly the most popular pub name in the Cotswolds. There are actually three Coach & Horses inns within a few miles of each other in the north Cotswolds, at Ganborough, Longborough and Bourton-on-the-Water. Picture © Julia LindopNorth Cotswold Brewery, established in 1999, is a family-run craft brewery situated at Ditchford Farm, near Shipston-on-Stour. Producing award-winning “Fine Ales from the Fosse” the brewery has a core range of four beers, including Windrush Ale and Cotswold Best.

Throughout the year, a number of beer festivals are held in the Cotswolds, offering real ale lovers a chance to sample a whole host of different tipples.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, in conjunction with the North Cotswold Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), held their 6th Spring Ale & Steam Weekend at Winchcombe Station over a weekend in May 2014.

Just a few miles away, the 38th Cotswold Beer Festival took place at Postlip Hall Tithe Barn, near Winchcombe, in July. The festival featured more than 80 beers and 20 ciders and perries, plus food and entertainment.

Down in the south Cotswolds, the 35th annual Frocester Beer Festival was held at Frocester Cricket Club, near Stroud, over two days in August. The programme included live music, hot food, and more than 100 different cask-conditioned real ales from more than 50 breweries around the UK, along with a large selection of wines, cider and perry. 

Another beer festival regularly held at a cricket club in the Cotswolds is the annual North Cotswold CAMRA Beer Festival which took place for the seventh time at Moreton-in-Marsh Cricket Club in September 2014. With 40 real ales and ciders to choose from and plenty of food and live music, it's always a great weekend for real ale and music lovers alike.

More information

Donnington Brewery

Hook Norton Brewery

North Cotswold Brewery

The Cotswold Brewing Company

Cotswold Beer Festival

Frocester Beer Festival

North Cotswold CAMRA Beer Festival

Spring Ale & Steam Weekend

• For a full list of Cotswold pubs, see Loving the Cotswolds' indispensible Eat & Drink section 
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2021.