THE costumed crowds at Ulverston's Dickensian Festival this weekend can get refreshment from a specially-brewed ale designed to recapture the flavour of a Victorian pint.

The recently-launched Ulverston Brewing Company has produced their third beer aptly named What the Dickens!' for the town's annual Christmas market.

"We've tried to create something which tastes like what would have been drunk at the time," explained brewer Anita Garnett. "We've gone for something malty a warming winter beer rather than something hoppy. We hope it's something Dickens would have liked."

However in a concession to modern tastes, the alcohol content of the tipple, which is on tap at The Farmers' Arms, is a 20th century 4.4 per cent. This is less than Victorian beer that was typically a boozy six per cent, despite society's aspirations to sobriety and high morals.

Meanwhile the Coniston Brewery has also been at the recipe books to create a designer beer.

The Flying Frenchman Bitter' has gone on tap at the Black Bull Hotel, Coniston, in a bid to raise money for Christian del Castillo's F2000 hydroplane, that was badly damaged during his dramatic 100mph smash on Coniston Water during Records Week on November 2.

Owner of Coniston Brewery Ian Bradley described the new tipple as a blend of Blacksmiths Ale and Bluebird Bitter, and 10p of each pint sold will go towards rebuilding the boat.

Mr Del Castillo said: "Everyone in Coniston is so supportive, and I can hardly believe the brewery is now producing a beer in order to help me rebuild the boat."

Grasmere photographer Martin Campbell captured the death-defying crash on a series of photographs that are on display at the Black Bull pub to accompany the Flying Frenchman Bitter.

l Cumbrian-based brewer Tirril Brewery has just bought its second public house the New Inn at Brampton, near Appleby. A total refurbishment of the pub is planned. The business sold from an asking price of £425,000 through The Bar Agency, Manchester office.