Combine great-tasting beer with friendly competition and some truly magnificent views; and you’ve got the perfect day out for a group of beer fans, right in the heart of the Forest of Dean.
On face value, shooting your colleagues with arrows and knocking them over while dressed as a giant bubble, might not sound like the best way to encourage team-bonding. But following our action-packed morning at Hillside Brewery, the SoGlos team was left positively buzzing, recommending our experience to anyone who’d listen!
Trainers at the ready we arrived at Hillside Brewery’s Farm near Longhope on a sunny Friday morning, not really sure what we’d let ourselves into. Entering through the brewery’s on-site shop selling a range of wooden homewares, branded beer glasses and of course, bottles of Hillside’s delicious range of beers, we were introduced to beer boss Paul Williamson.
As our guide for the day, Paul walked us past phenomenal views over the Forest of Dean, across to the brewery’s enormous events space and bar, which also boasts a children’s play area, indoor stage for events and tons of indoor and outdoor seating space.
Starting the day with Archery Tag, the team was given a bow each and protective face and arm equipment, before making our way up a small hill into the vast outdoor activities space.
Hillside Brewery recommends teams of at least eight people take part in its experience days, making them ideal for birthday celebrations, stag and hen dos or team-building events.
As a slightly smaller group of six, we split into teams and took cover behind three inflatable barriers on each side, aimed to protect us from the onslaught of rubber arrows being shot from our opponents. After a quick practice with the bow, battle began. We’d describe Archery Tag as a combination of The Hunger Games meets Dodgeball!
Each short round began with every player running to grab the piles of arrows in the centre of the playing zone, then running for cover before trying to work the best angles and shoot the opposition. The whole thing was extraordinarily fun, getting the adrenaline pumping with a tiny degree of combat stress as we tried to dodge flying arrows, pick up replacement ones, reload the bow and maintain cover. We definitely earned our ploughman’s lunch!
Alongside a standard versus game of archery tag, we were also given the chance to play ‘Run the Gauntlet’ where one member of the team (usually the boss or stag) has to run between the inflatable barriers dodging a barrage of arrows shot by a firing squad lined up along the pitch. Brutal, but brilliant.
Following a short refreshment break, the team was taught how to get into the inflatable zorbs ready for bubble football and sumo-style zorb wrestling. The zorbs used by Hillside Brewery are the type that cover the top half of your body, leaving your legs free to run.
Providing quite a surreal feeling of being top-heavy and not being able to see your own feet, the team bumped and bashed into each other as we chased after a football, in a match that was less about scoring goals and more about pushing each other to the floor!
Following our morning of activities, we were invited back to Hillside’s stunning events space for a beer at the 10m, fully stocked bar. After enjoying a well-deserved pint, Paul took us for a tour around Hillside’s Brewery.
Encapsulating those stunning hillside views with a talk in the fermentation room and a trip into the bottling room – where each bottle is capped and labelled by hand; it was clear to see the love and passion that goes into each brew in this charming local brewery.
Following our tour, we sat down to a delicious ploughman’s lunch including Hillside’s own beer bread; a selection of cheeses, grapes, celery, pickled onions and tomatoes; and finished off with beer-flavoured ice cream – which was surprisingly sweet and tasty.
If the activities aren’t really your thing, guests also have the option to book in for just the brewery tour and ploughman’s lunch, making for a far more relaxing afternoon. There’s even the option to camp for stag and hen dos that want to really get the party started at Hillside Brewery.
Hillside’s barn and events space has been completely rebuilt in recent years, providing the ideal location for weddings, family parties, corporate functions or training, and even birthday parties.
Featuring underfloor heating; a stage and sound system for live music; seating for up to 200 people, a mezzanine level including table football and comfy sofas; and of course, that deliciously stocked bar, the Brewery is perfectly suited for rustic-styled events, or those wanting to put their own stamp on the décor.
The views are truly stunning and the interior is effortlessly cool. Hillside is certainly a venue worth adding to your list if you’re planning a big event.
As a smaller group visiting on a very hot day, we found the activities left us exhausted very quickly, especially when encased in the plastic zorbs to play bubble football, meaning we couldn’t enjoy the fun for as long as we would have liked.
We’d recommend taking part in the activities with a large group, so that if you should be lucky enough to visit in glorious sunshine, groups can take the activities in turn, giving some respite to those who need a little recovery time!
Tuesday 07 August 2018
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