HOLIDAYS are all about drinking in the sights and building lasting memories.
However, this is something just a bit different – we’re actually drinking in the memories.
There are few things nicer on a relaxing break than enjoying a pint and reflecting on the day.
But one of them, surely, is reflecting on it having learned where that pint came from.
So we’re on a mini brewery tour as a bit of a taster of North Yorkshire.
We’re staying in a lovely little holiday cottage on the North Yorks Moors.
Available from cottages.com, it’s called Wheeldale and sits in the gorgeous village of Goathland, better known as Aidensfield in TV’s Heartbeat.
Our first stop lies just 20 minutes away in Cropton, just outside Pickering.
When the current owners took over the village’s New Inn in 1984, they decided to brew their own beers.
It started in the cellar and gradually, as word spread, it extended to the quarry area out the back and was named the Great Yorkshire Brewery.
The £7.50 tour couldn’t be more informal. It’s led by the mum of a girl who works behind the bar.
She’s a marvellous font of knowledge and fun, too.
We get to hear tales of how the various beers were christened, including one called Old Goat named in tribute to the original head brewer.
There are six shiny big tanks each apparently holding 5600 pints. Sounds a lot and the three million produced each year sounds even more so.
But that is, as it were, very small beer in the brewery world.
It’s so informal we get to sniff the different barleys in little jars and the hops in Tupperware tubs.
The proof of the pudding – well, drinking – is in the finished product back in the bar of the 200-year-old pub.
Can’t decide? Easy, have three thirds in a little wooden tray.
Or if you’ve already picked a favourite, you can take a bottle away.
With just 200 residents, Cropton is the sort of place you might easily overlook. But, as has been the case for centuries, the pub represents the heart of the community, even down to the local, homemade jam featuring on the super-tasty menu we couldn’t resist.
Next up we hit the big city. York’s an hour away and boasts numerous great attractions.
But we’ve phoned ahead and booked a slot on the tour at the York Brewery.
The location couldn’t provide more of a contrast.
It sits within sight of the city walls and, although the brewery has only been around for 20 years, the building is ancient and supposedly haunted.
Founded by two former Little Chef workers who fancied a recipe for change, it now produces some two-and-a-half million pints a year.
Half of those, we discover on the low-key chatty tour, consist of the Guzzler light ale which is happily sampled in the rooftop bar.
It’s the sort of tour where staff in welly boots open up the copper vessels to give the steaming hops a good stir as you watch.
The £8 tour is one of the attractions included in the fabulous York Pass.
If you are in the city for a day or two it’s the best way to see some of the top sights, from the Minster to the Chocolate Story.
Neighbouring attractions such as Castle Howard, Eden Camp and the North York Moors Railway are handily included too.
Our final stop lies across in the Dales.
Market towns like Hawes and Leyburn are great places to spend a few hours but the Black Sheep Brewery is located in nearby Masham.
It’s hardly on the scale of the Guinness brewery tour in Dublin, but the £8.50 tour is still a slick experience.
We watch a film explaining how it all started when one of the famous Theakston dynasty struck out on his own after the family business was taken over by Scottish and Newcastle.
There’s all the merchandise you would expect to find in the expansive shop, while staff ensure a homely, personal touch.
For York information www.visityork.org
Wheeldale, Goathland near Whitby Property ref: CC231134
Sleeps four in two bedrooms. £368 for seven nights arriving October 29, 2016. www.cottages.com
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