A third of the workforce at a “much-loved” Lake District brewery has taken voluntary redundancy.

A total of 12 staff at Hawkshead Brewery walked after its owners, Halewood Wines and Spirits, introduced the scheme in response to the financial hit it has suffered at the hands of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Among those to go were well-known and long-serving head brewer Matt Clarke, lead brewer Mark Jackson, marketing manager Michelle Gay and members of the Hawkshead Brewery sales team.

It leaves 11 members of staff working across the brewery’s sites at Staveley, near Kendal, and Flookburgh, near Grange-over-Sands.

A further 13 bar and kitchen staff based at the Staveley beer hall are currently on the Government-backed furlough scheme.

A spokesperson for Halewood said that voluntary redundancy rather than furlough had been used in the case of the 12 “to protect the future production” across its two sites.

Stewart Hainsworth, group chief executive of Halewood, said: “Like many companies, we’ve been hit very hard financially by the impact of Covid-19.

“Regrettably, the outbreak does mean we have introduced a scheme of voluntary redundancies.

“Hawkshead Brewery is a well-loved attraction in Cumbria, and we’ve taken these immediate steps to secure the future of production at both the Staveley and Flookburgh sites.

“We are looking at Government measures to attempt to minimise the financial disruption caused by COVID-19 and will continue to take any steps we can to protect jobs and help steer the company through this difficult and uncertain period.

“But the key message is that we will continue to produce beer in the Lakes, and we will reopen our award-winning bar and restaurant in Staveley once restrictions are lifted.”

Liverpool-based artisanal and craft drinks group Halewood took a controlling stake Hawkshead Brewery in March 2017.

The move – which brought with it a £3 million investment in its site at Staveley Mill Yard – saw Hawkshead Brewery’s founder and former BBC foreign correspondent Alex Brodie continue as its managing director.

At the time Mr Brodie said: “I am convinced that Halewood share our values. We have had a long negotiation and I believe that this deal gives Hawkshead a way of getting significant investment without being absorbed into ‘big beer.’ Halewood sees small, craft and premium as the future. And they are Northern. I like that.”

Halewood caused a stir earlier this year when it closed the Sadler's Brewery in Lye, near Stourbridge in the Black County, and shifted production of its beer to Hawskhead’s Staveley site.

The production of the high-selling Peaky Blinders brand brews, inspired by the hit BBC series, also moved north.

Halewood – a family-run business – manages around 25 brands, including Crabbies, and craft breweries, along with whiskey and gin distillers, across England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.