Brewery tour in North Yorkshire
The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham is well worth a visit for several reasons, not least to enjoy the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and its quaint villages (decorated with the remains of Tour de France bunting, bicycles and all sorts of paraphernalia on our visit today).
There’s a Visitor Centre with a ‘baa..r and bistro‘ serving fresh fayre sourced from local produce (from light bites to main courses) and several Black Sheep beers on tap (and bottled too).
But the highlight has to be the brewery tour (£6.95 for adults, £5.95 for senior citizens) which lasts about 75 minutes.
The tour starts with a seated talk about the Theakston family’s long brewing history (in parts complex, but our guide made it thoroughly entertaining) interspersed with video footage and samples of barley and hops to smell and taste, before the ‘shepherded’ part of the tour begins in the boiler room.
Apparently, this boiler room gets so hot and steamy that it’s unbearable to be in for more than a few minutes in the heat of summer. Perhaps thankfully, a new boiler was being delivered today so although we didn’t see all the equipment in full working order, that mightn’t have been such a bad thing.
What happens in this room?
~ crushed malt from the grist hopper gets mashed with hot water into the mash tun
~ starch from the malt is converted to sugars (wort)
~ the wort is drawn off into the copper where hops are added
~ when full, the copper is brought to the boil then boiled for exactly an hour
~ the brew gets dropped into the hop back where the hops settle at the bottom so that the brew can be pumped across to the fermentation room
Then it’s on to the packing and distribution area…
…before learning a bit more about each particular beer.
And the only way to finish is to taste-test your new knowledge!
I was particularly taken with Velo, a special, seasonal pale ale with subtle hints of orange and coriander, created for the Tour de France 2014 in North Yorkshire – perfectly hoppy and very easy drinking, and the Imperial Russian Stout – strong, dark and velvety.
The verdict: A great day out if you’re in the area. Or well worth arranging a trip if you’re not.
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Brewery, bar
~ Address: The Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham, North Yorkshire, HG4 4EN
~ Website: Black Sheep Brewery website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Black Sheep Brewery
~ facebook page: Black Sheep Brewery on fb
~ Location: Black Sheep Brewery map
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