Windsor and Eton Brewery

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When I’d reached the legal drinking age I found myself drawn to wine. Intrigued by the many varietals of wine I searched out as much information as I could. I enjoyed visiting wineries for tastings and to learn how wine is produced. Even years later I am still finding new and exciting wines to sample. Although wine production shares many qualities with beer, for many years I wasn’t interested in beer. Over time, I realized it was because I had tried nothing beyond the basic light name brand beer. Once I’d made the conscious decision to expand my beer horizon a whole new realm opened for me. Similar to wine, beer is produced through out the world with many brands and types of beer to try. On my last trip to England I was excited to see what beers the country offered. I looked forward to treating my taste buds to what the English refer to as ‘bitter’ beer.

One city I planned on visiting while in England was Windsor. In researching which sights to see in Windsor I read that the city has a brewery.   Windsor & Eton Brewery is a fifteen-minute walk from the famed Windsor Castle. The brewery’s website mentions that in the past Windsor created fabulous ales. In 1931 the last brewery in the city closed its doors. That is until 2010 when Windsor & Eton Brewery opened. Without hesitation I added the brewery to my list of places to visit. I found the prospect of visiting an up and coming brewery steeped in tradition exciting.

I arrived in Windsor by train via Windsor & Eton Central Station and opted for the scenic route to the brewery. From the train station I made my way to Barry Avenue, with Alexandra Gardens to my left and River Thames to my right. A left at Vansittart Road led me away from the River Thames and into a residential section of Windsor. Continuing on to Duke Street, I passed quaint two-story homes, a group of residences known as the Gardner Cottages. These homes are along Arthur Road, Vansittart Road, and Duke Street. The homes form a square shape with a field in the middle shared by the tenants. The Duke Street section of the square takes up two sides of the square and across the corner of the Duke Streets is the Windsor & Eton Brewery.

Sign for Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England (Photograph from the website: Check Before You Trek)

Sign for Windsor and Eton Brewery

Windsor & Eton Brewery offers tours twice a week, with tour dates and times available on their website’s event page. I wasn’t in Windsor on a tour day but figured I’d try my luck and stop by the brewery to see if it was open. Windsor & Eton Brewery is in a one-story building. The building’s nondescript outside resembles more an office building than a brewery. A sign on the wall shows that you have arrived at Windsor & Eton Brewery. I entered through the main door into what appeared to be a receptionist space. An employee of the brewery welcomed me and led me into the Windsor & Eton Brewery store. The store has for sale beers, growlers, and merchandise ranging from shirts to key chains.

Various beers for sale at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Various beers for sale at Windsor and Eton Brewery

While perusing the beers on sale another employee asked if I was interested in tasting a few of the beers the brewery was producing on site. I said yes, and they ushered me into an adjoining room. This immense space was the section of the building where the beers are brewed and bottled. Large brewing tanks and stainless steel beer barrels took up most of the room. One section of the room had a counter set aside for beer tasting.

Brew tanks at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Brew tanks at Windsor and Eton Brewery

Each of the beers that Windsor & Eton Brewery produces is named in homage to the royal city of Windsor. For example, they have the Knight of the Garter Golden Ale, the Guardsman Best Bitter, and the Conqueror Black IPA. When Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, married Catherine Middleton the brewery created the Windsor Knot Pale Ale. During the tasting the employee told me the history of the brewery and the brewing methods used by the brewery. Of particular note was how beer brewed in England differs from the way beer is brewed in America. To illustrate the point the tasting included a traditional English ‘bitter’ beer. English refer to pale ale as ‘bitter’ beer. This beer is cask ale, which means after brewing in the tanks it goes through a second fermentation in barrels. Due to the cooler climate of England ‘bitter’ beer is served at room temperature but still tastes cool and refreshing. In contrast are keg beers, beer that is pressurized in tanks and kept cold and how most American beers are made. Windsor & Eton brewery makes an American IPA that is served chilled, and it was interesting tasting the ‘bitter’ versus the American IPA. Afterwards I sampled a couple other light and dark beers the brewery produces. Every beer was crisp, full bodied, and wonderful.

Tasting area at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Tasting area at Windsor and Eton Brewery

After tasting a few beers I went back into the store and purchased bottles of beers I hadn’t had the chance to sample. As I left the Windsor & Eton Brewery I felt humbled. Even though I showed up unannounced, and not at the brewery during a scheduled tour, the employees treated me with such hospitality. In retrospect I wish I had attended a tour. The tours run for ninety minutes, allowing for a more in depth tutorial on the actual brewing techniques used. If you are a fan of beer, or want to learn how beer is produced in England, be sure to visit the Windsor & Eton Brewery.

Display at Windsor and Eton Brewery - Windsor, England

Display at Windsor and Eton Brewery

 

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Windsor and Eton Brewery

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Windsor and Eton Brewery 51.484451, -0.617875 Windsor and Eton Brewery

 

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Visiting Windsor and Eton

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Visitors to Windsor and Eton will find two charming English towns right next to each other. Windsor is famous for Windsor Castle. Windsor’s neighbor Eton is home to a prestigious boys’ boarding school. It is easy to visit both towns as they are within walking distance of one another. In fact, a seven-minute walk separates the two train stations that bring travelers to Windsor and Eton. If traveling from London, Windsor & Eton Central services travelers from London Paddington (via a platform at Slough). Travel between the two stations can take anywhere between 27-49 minutes depending on which train you catch. Travelers from London Waterloo will arrive at Windsor & Eton Riverside in one hour. Windsor & Eton Central is the train station closest to Windsor Castle, while Windsor & Eton Riverside is closer to the River Thames and Eton. Listed below are the main sights to visit in Windsor and Eton.

Windsor Royal Shopping

Upon exiting the train at Windsor & Eton Central you walk into the open air Windsor Royal Shopping center. The center was once a Victorian railway station and parts of the original architecture remains. A variety of shops and restaurants are at your disposal to cure your hunger or shopping pangs. If you are hungry and aren’t able to decide which restaurant to eat at try the Cinnamon Cafe. The Cinnamon Cafe serves pastries such as scones and other traditional English foods such as jacket potatoes. In addition to restaurants and clothing stores, Windsor Royal Shopping has candy and souvenir shops. Even more stores are found in the streets surrounding Windsor Royal Shopping. Both established English retailers and international brands are there to fulfill your shopping needs.

Windsor Royal Shopping - Windsor, England

Windsor Royal Shopping

Windsor Castle

The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the residences of the Royal Family. When the Royal Standard flag is flying above the Castle the Queen is home. If the British (Union) flag is on display the Queen is spending her time elsewhere. As Windsor is located near London many tourists flock to Windsor Castle via tour groups. If traveling without a group when you arrive at the Castle you may see a long line of people snaking along the street leading up to the ticket booth entrance. That long line is for tour groups and if you aren’t connected to a group you may go ahead to the ticket booth entrance. A Windsor Castle attendant will guide you to the line for non-tour group visitors. Admission to Windsor Castle includes a handheld device with a self-guided multimedia tour. Your ticket gives you access to the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and St. George’s Chapel. Keep in mind that St. George’s Chapel is closed to tourists Sundays. If you plan on watching Changing the Guard be sure to check on the Windsor Castle website beforehand for up-to-date times.

Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Windsor Castle’s Round Tower

Windsor Great Park

The easiest way to gain access to Windsor Great Park is by walking to the end of Park Street. There you will find the Park Street Gate. The Park Street Gate is closed during the nighttime but when open it allows you direct access to the Long Walk. The Long Walk is a three-mile tree-lined path through a section of Windsor Great Park. With Windsor Great Park stretching over 8 square miles of land, the Long Walk provides just a glimpse of the grounds. A view of a statue of George III rewards those who traverse the entire path. If the walking made you tired go to the pub right next to the Park Street Gate where you can grab yourself refreshment and recuperate.

Park Street Gate and Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Park Street Gate (to the left) and Windsor Castle (center)

The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park - Windsor, England

The Long Walk, Windsor Great Park

River Thames and Eton

The River Thames separates the two towns of Windsor and Eton. Walk along the river to see swans frolicking in the water. You can watch rowing and motorboats sail the river. The river flows past the Alexandra Gardens. The gardens are open to visitors and are next to a parking lot if you drive to Windsor and need a spot to leave your car. Besides walking next to the river, several companies offer various boat trips along the river. You can cross over the River Thames by way of the Windsor & Eton Bridge, which connects the two towns of Windsor and Eton. At night Windsor Castle is lit up and the bridge provides a spectacular view. Across the bridge, on the Eton side, are several restaurants of which a few offer riverside seating. If you continue past the restaurants you will wind up on High Street. This street is lined with shops and leads you to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The architecture of the shops, restaurants, and boarding school are worth the stroll through the town of Eton.

River Thames - Windsor and Eton, England

River Thames and the Windsor & Eton Bridge

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Windsor and Eton Sights

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Windsor Royal Shopping: 51.482834, -0.609454
Windsor Castle: 51.483889, -0.604408
Windsor Great Park: 51.463062, -0.606337
Eton College: 51.495735, -0.604440
Alexandra Gardens: 51.484611, -0.613870
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Windsor Royal Shopping
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Windsor Royal Shopping, Goswell Hill, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Windsor Castle
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Windsor Castle, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Windsor Great Park
Visiting Windsor and Eton
The Long Walk, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Eton College
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Eton College, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Alexandra Gardens
Visiting Windsor and Eton
Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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Day Trips From London

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A week in London means a packed itinerary and a day trip to another town may be the furthest thing from your mind. Even so, you should devote a day to a city besides London. Visit other parts of England near London to allow yourself the opportunity to explore another side of the country. Day trips that offer a different experience than staying in London are Bath, Oxford, Reading, Stonehenge, and Windsor. Travel times listed in each heading are one-way train trips from London’s Paddington Station.

Bath – 90 minutes

Walk around London and you can’t imagine that Britain was once part of the Roman Empire. Travel to Bath and that evidence hits you smack dab in the face. The town of Bath is known for its hot springs and the Romans built bathhouses to harness the restorative water. Tourists can buy tickets for admittance into what was once a functioning bathhouse and learn the history of the town. Unlike hot spring locations in other parts of the world, Bath does not have public bathhouses open to visitors. Thermae Spa is the only place in Bath where you can pay to take a dip in water flowing from the hot springs. Before heading home stroll through Bath and admire the Roman architecture and quaint streets.

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul - Bath, England

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Bath

Oxford – 60 minutes

Tourists looking to explore England’s famed university towns choose between Oxford and Cambridge. Both are solid choices but Cambridge is a two-hour journey from London while Oxford takes an hour to reach by train. Oxford boasts over 30 different universities within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. When you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth and buy the 2£ map that includes a walking tour. The walking tour will guide you past the top sites. Plan on the walk to take an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you walk at a relaxed pace, explore the universities, and eat at one of the many restaurants in Oxford.

The Radcliffe Camera - Oxford University, England

The Radcliffe Camera – Oxford University

Reading – 30 minutes

Reading is not a town brimming with sites, but that’s the appeal. The streets from the train station lead you past various shops and to the Oracle shopping center. The Oracle provides a chance to shop in a mall without the same crowds that you find in London. Behind the Oracle is a riverfront reminiscent of a scaled version of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Plenty of restaurant options around the river will replenish you during your shopping excursion. If you need a pause from the hustle and bustle of London consider Reading that break.

The Oracle Riverside - Reading, England

Reading – The Oracle Riverside

Stonehenge – 3 hours

Photos of the monument Stonehenge are recognizable around the world. Years ago tourists to the fabled grounds of Stonehenge could walk right up to the massive stones and place their hands directly onto the monument. Even though the experience of touching the stones is no longer allowed this prehistoric monument is a site to be seen. With a six hour round trip, this destination is the longest on this list to reach by train. The better plan is to tack Stonehenge along with another location such as Bath. Companies, such as Gray Line, have a bus tour that is nine hours and includes transportation to both Bath and Stonehenge. Travel with a tour group means that you will be on a schedule when at each location. At least you will visit both sites without having to spend six hours sitting on a train.

Stonehenge - Wiltshire, England

Stonehenge

Windsor – 35 minutes

The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the many residences of the Royal Family. If you see the Royal Standard flag flying above the Castle then you know the Queen is home. Tourists primarily descend upon Windsor by tour bus just to visit the Castle. Windsor is more than just the Castle and worth a few extra hours beyond the tour of the Castle grounds. If you arrive at Windsor & Eton Central railway station upon exiting the train are various shops and restaurants. Around Windsor Castle are more shops and restaurants. Next to Windsor Castle is Windsor Great Park that includes pathways such as the Long Walk. Another nice walk is across the River Thames to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The streets leading to Eton College are lined with shops and restaurants.

Windsor Castle - Windsor, England

Windsor Castle

 

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Day Trips From London

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Bath: 51.375801, -2.359904
Oxford: 51.752021, -1.257726
Reading: 51.454265, -0.978130
Stonehenge: 51.178882, -1.826215
Windsor: 51.481728, -0.613576
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Bath
Day Trips From London
Bath, United Kingdom
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Oxford
Day Trips From London
Oxford, United Kingdom
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Reading
Day Trips From London
Reading, United Kingdom
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Stonehenge
Day Trips From London
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
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Windsor
Day Trips From London
Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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