Hawkstone Brews, Delicious Dough, and a truly authentic Cotswolds experience
Quaint. Picturesque. Tranquil. Words often used about the popular village of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds, with the gently flowing river running through it, cosy tea rooms, and lovely local shops.
Well, we went to Bourton-on-the-Water on Saturday but we can’t use those words to describe our visit… instead, we need these: Edgy. Authentic. Laid-back. Unpretentious. Epic.
So, why do we need all these new words? Because, although we did go to Bourton-on-the-Water, we were about a mile up the road from the centre of town, at the Hawkstone brewery. Now, buckle up, as we take you on a whirlwind journey through this fantastic food, drink, and experience destination in the Cotswolds.
We arrived and were met by the lovely people of DOUGH Wood-Fired Pizza outside. They were the pop-up eatery on this fine Saturday, and the aroma of wood smoke and bubbling cheese lured us in instantly. We were welcomed first by the whole DOUGH family, lovely Jay & Sarah and their teenage kids Grace & Harry. This family-run gem champions local produce and traditional methods, crafting pizzas that are pure masterpieces, nothing less.
Time to order. We went for the veggie options and then we went inside the Hawkstone Arms to order drinks while we waited for our pizzas.
Fuelled by the anticipation of pizza perfection, we ventured into Hawkstone Arms, the beating heart of the Hawkstone brewery. This unpretentious pub is unlike anything we’ve seen in the Cotswolds and far beyond! If you’re a lover of good beer, cider, vibes, and times, this is your kind of place. Think exposed concrete floors, tent sheet walls, barrel tables, bar stools, vintage leather sofas, shared tables and benches, and a soundtrack that perfectly blends classic rock with folk tunes – sometimes even with live music from the pallet-stage.
This is a truly unique space… one where you’re offered a genuine welcome, served a beer, slapped on the back, and invited to make yourself at home. Our kind of place!
On this fine Saturday in January, it was a little too cool at first to sit outside, but some of our fellow visitors (who were clearly cooler than us!) did opt for the outdoor seating.
We went straight to the bar. Robin asked for a pint of Hawkstone Lager – took one sip, loved it! I asked for a Diet Coke – was nearly thrown out of the establishment, but as they’re very nice people, I instead had a good talking-to and it was suggested that I just give the Hawkstone cider a try……….. I did, forgot all about the Diet Coke (what was I thinking?!) and I LOVED IT!!! I now have a favourite cider, which I never thought I’d say. The fruity, crisp, golden drops of Hawkstone Cider enjoyed in the laid-back setting of the Hawkstone Arms are worth the trip here from absolutely anywhere.
We found a bench and a corner of a big table for 10 in the centre of the room. Seated and relaxed, we enjoyed the atmosphere, the people-watching, saying hello to several dogs that were also visiting, and loved the music playing. Then our pizza-buzzer buzzed and I went out to get our fresh-out-of-the-flames DOUGH pizzas.
Robin had opted for “The Good, The Bad & The Funghi”, a crusty and deliciously chewy pizza base with garlic creme fraiche replacing the usual tomato sauce, mozzarella which added milky sweetness, countered by creamy tang and salt from the grana padana. Thyme-infused mushrooms offered savoury depth, boosted by earthy porcini powder. As it came out of the oven, a drizzle of truffle oil was added to elevate the flavour with its luxurious aroma.
And I had a special vegan pizza made up just for me, one where the scrummy blistered crust and chewy base had a rich tomato sauce, fragrant basil, caramelized onions, and earthy mushrooms, all kissed by flames in the open wood-fired oven.
They were SO GOOOOD! Every mouthful was a testament to the passion of Jay & Sarah, the owners of DOUGH, and their dedication to quality, local ingredients and meticulous preparation. And washed down with Hawkstone beer and cider, of course, which is the perfect combo!
Championed by Jeremy Clarkson & Kaleb Cooper
An enormous mural of Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper on the farm wall welcomes you when you arrive. A few years back, Jeremy Clarkson, champion of our local area, farming, and great lager, joined forces with The Cotswold Brew Co and out of this partnership, Hawkstone was born. Alongside his co-star on Clarkson’s Farm, Kaleb Cooper, he champions all the beers and ciders brewed, bottled and canned right there on the farm, where only the highest quality malted barley (grown on his farm in West Oxfordshire) is used to brew Hawkstone beer.
We were lucky enough to be invited on a private tour of the brewery. Nigel, the brewery tour guru, explained all about the process, the stringent quality tests, the crops, the grain, the barley, the carbonation, and everything else! It was so interesting and if ever you’re visiting, definitely book a tour!
Did you know: In total, it takes around 6 weeks to create Hawkstone Lager vs. an industry average of only 9 days. The result is a unique, quality lager that vindicates the extra time and effort invested: a lager that’s hard to make but easy to drink.
An Experience to Remember
Our whirlwind adventure at Hawkstone was a sensory feast. From the doughy bliss of DOUGH’s wood-fired pizzas to the liquid gold of Hawkstone brews, and the laid-back vibes of the Hawkstone Arms, every moment was brimming with flavour and local charm. Our experience when out and about in the Cotswolds on this cool Saturday in January, was a reminder that the Cotswolds hold hidden gems waiting to be discovered, each offering a unique taste of the region’s soul.