You may remember we had a long weekend away a few weeks ago and from the title of this post you would be right in thinking the trip had something to do with breweries and vineyards, but that wasn't all.
We were picked up by taxi from home and transported to the nearest motorway services to join the coach which too us to our first stop, Belvoir Brewery in the Vale of Belvoir (pronounced Beaver) in Leicestershire, for a tour and tastings of their beers.
The original brewery was set up in 1995, using mostly original equipment and artefacts recovered from traditional cask ale breweries all over the country. Time honoured brewing methods are used incorporating only the finest malt and hops, including several varieties of choice whole hops from Worcester and traditionally malted best English barley.
The tour inlcuded an education video, a guided tour of the brewery and ended with a tasting session in the Sample Cellar, where we were treated to jugs of five of Belvoir Brewery's finest ales, such as Star Mild, Gordon Bennett, Beaver Best Bitter, Old Dalby Strong Ale and Star Bitter.
As you can imagine after tasting all those beers we were ready for some lunch and our next stop was Melton Mowbray, famous for it's Pork Pies and Stilton Cheese, where we had some lunch and explored the quaint streets.
Dickinson & Morris has been baking pork pies at Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe in Melton Mowbray since 1851. They have the dual acclaim of being the oldest pork pie bakery and the last remaining producer of authentic Melton Mowbray pork pie based in the town centre. In recent years, due to unprecedented demand, the baking of these pies also takes place at a larger baker located just outside Leicester. You can order their pies online here.
Stilton® Cheese derives its name from the village of Stilton, Cambridgeshire. It was sold there to coach travellers on the Great North Road, travelling between London and Scotland.
In the 18th Century, it was recorded that cheese for the Bell Inn, Stilton was procured by a Mrs Paulet, a cheese-making farmer's wife living near Melton Mowbray, for her brother-in-law Cooper Thornhill. He was reputed to have been the landlord of the inn at that time. This story therefore connects Stilton® cheese-making with the area around Melton Mowbray. Stilton® cheese may only be produced in the counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and is protected by a certification trademark. This has ultimately lead to Stilton® being awarded a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by the European Commission.
The phrase 'painting the town red' originated in Melton when some young aristocrats up for the hunt went on a drunken spree in the 1800s and literally painted Melton town centre red.
Our companions, Terry and Dot, bought a couple of the famous Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and we bought some home-made chutney.
Our visit to Belvoir Brewery and Melton Mowbray over it was time to board the coach and head for our hotel, the Ramada Maidstone, which was to be our base for the weekend.
I hope you'll join me for Hops & Vines Part Two.