PUNTERS at Carlisle Racecourse were able to sample an added dose of Cumbria at the latest meeting.

As well as enjoying a mixed bag of weather and seven nail-biting chase and hurdles races, crowds lined up to test the flavours of three local breweries.

The Carlisle Brewing Company, co-operative owned Hesket Newmarket Brewery and Workington-based Tractor Shed Brewing set up shop for a beer festival at the Durdar track on Sunday.

John Wilkie, general manager of Jockey Club catering at the racecourse, said: "We wanted to bring in local breweries and we don't tend to do that very often.

"It's giving people the chance to sample some beers.

"It's something different for the site and the area. We have had people calling from as far as Glasgow, as well as local people, for the day."

Alison Davis, co-owner of the Carlisle Brewing Company, said it was great to be involved and hopes to return for the next beer festival in August.

The brewery is building up a good relationship with the racecourse which currently stocks its Carlisle Bell, named after the historic race that takes place on Bell and Plate Day in June.

"It has been going well," she said. "We brought our main stays to see how it goes. It has been something different for the racecourse and something different for all of us."

Hesket Newmarket Brewery took five ales to the festival.

Nathan Gregory, lead brewer, said: "It has been a really nice event. It's great for branding and getting our name out there.

"Financially for breweries the cask market is very depressed at the moment. Margins are very tight and this gives us a chance to retail beers at a reasonable price and lets local people support Cumbrian breweries which is very important at the moment."

Lauren Turner, of Tractor Shed Brewing, said their lagers - Jinny Howelt and Whistling Pig - had been popular.

"It has been lovely," she said. "People don't realise you can have artisanal lagers as well. I think people have been surprised to find a lager in here today."

Racegoers were equally as keen.

Friends Michael Sziler CORR, 62, and Chris Eccles, 65, of Blackburn, are regulars at Carlisle at were pleased to see something different.

Michael said: "I just get fed up of Carling and John Smiths and the same old stuff every racecourse has got. It's a breath of fresh air."

Alan Dixon, 65, of Crindledyke, Carlisle, enjoyed Hesket Newmarket's bitter. He said: "It's very nice. A lovely bitter beer. We support the racecourse and everything they do is good for the racecourse."

Rees Fisher and Daniel Kelton of Cockermouth were also supportive.

"Rees said: "I think it is brilliant. I'm all for local stuff. It's good to support local businesses."

The Carlisle Brewing company's Cumbrian Bitter won over Peter Simms of Yorkshire. "I think this needs to happen a lot more at racing," he said. "It's better beer."