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» North Yorkshire » Black Sheep Brewery Visitors Centre, Crosshills, Masham 

Full Postal AddressBlack Sheep Brewry PLC, Wellgarth, Crosshills, Masham, RIPON, HG4 4EN [Map]
Telephone Number01765 680101Pub's Own Websitehttp://www.blacksheepbrewery.com/ 
Opening Timesclosed MO & winter TU; 11-23 TU-SA; 12-17:30 SU
FacilitiesCar Park, Evening Meals, Beer Garden, Lunchtime Meals

AJ and I in a very priveleged position, October 2001

Once in a while I come across a real ale establishment by chance, and this is just one of those places. Hold on, I lie, mention the word Masham and what images are created in your mind? Perhaps shire horses, a traditional cooper, or if you're an ovine fan perhaps a market full of mashams (a traditional rare sheep breed), not to mention a pint of Theaksons Old Peculiar, or for more recent visitors perhaps a pint of Black Sheep bitter. For me, all are shaking around in my head as I travel at speed along the seemingly endlessly gently snaking M4 munching on a Rowes Saffron bun nervously glancing outside at the atrocious weather, the spray from the coach looking more like the wash of a speedboat than. As I've got a little time on my hands (I'm on a National Express coach up to London for the weekend) I'll type you a quick tale of beer, before my battery runs out. Theakstons brewery, which started brewing in 1875, is one of Yorkshire's oldest brewers and was set up by Thomas Theakston. The brewery enjoyed over a century of blissful independence, and then in the 1980's was taken over by Matthew Brown. and later by Scottish and Newcastle before being bought back by the Theakston family in the autumn of 2003. Whilst under the ownership of Scottish and Newcastle, Paul Theakston decided to go it alone and set up his own brewery where else but Masham! He perhaps rather appropriately named it 'Black Sheep' and its popularity is such that today the beers are now as well known to many in Yorkshire as the great Theakston ales.

Anyhow, I have a slight confession to make. I'd been out for a day in the Dales with my girlfriend of the time (she's now my wife so must have subsequently forgiven me, or maybe this story's fortunately slipped from her otherwise excellent memory) and had a nice morning wandering around Hawes with lunch in a café and a quick visit to the Wensleydale creamery to pick up some decent cheese! We'd agreed to head over to Masham for the afternoon to have a look around the market but didn't actually get there until about 3.30pm after a few wrong turns. (WARNING: Next sentence contains a excuse) Not having been to Masham before I foolishly made another driving error and turned left upon entering the village instead of right. Before we knew it we were in the Black Sheep Brewery car park. We thought we'd just check when the brewery shop closed (can't miss the opportunity to top up one's beer cellar with some fine regional ales) so headed in and the kind lady behind the desk immediately stood and showed us to the room behind and said, 'Oooo, you've just missed the last tour, but they've only just gone throughto watch the video, so be quick and you can pay me later.' Ten seconds later we were in a room smelling of beer full of eager folk avidly watching the Black Sheep story unfurl. An hour or so passed, traditional Yorkshire square slate fermenting vessels were seen along with hundreds of gallons of fine ale sloshing around and being sprayed seemingly in all directions but I exaggerate! Before we knew it, we were in the shop, the final obstacle before the more important bar area / beer testing zone. Brief pause to gaze upwards… What an amazing and huge building, it was apparently once the North of England maltings. Gaze forwards…. the full range of Black Sheep beers are available, and the friendly barman even allowed us to pose behind the bar, what a gentleman. For the hungry, meals are available from soup and sandwiches up with an emphasis on local Yorkshire produce. Some seating is also available outside. A whole host of entertainment is also available both during the day and also evenings but it's worth calling them for information about what's on when. My good friend Rog recommends the food and evening entertainment. To avoid disappointment do call to check if they're open.

Oh, one final comment. By the time we left the brewery and headed down to the market in the square, they'd all packed up and gone home. Hmmm, better come a little earlier next time…

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