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Who's brewing in Masham?

A few weeks ago my partner and I went up to North Yorkshire to stay with friends for the weekend. Our base camp was to be Masham near Wensleydale.

We left Rotherham early on Saturday morning to catch the train to Knaresborough via Leeds. We arrived a little earlier than originally expected, so our hosts gave us a little trip round the town .

It was decided that, due to the inclement weather, we would do some brewery trips that day - everyone was in total agreement.

We set off for base camp with a little diversion, which unwittingly led us to our first brewery trip of the day. Nick Staffordís Hambleton brewery is set among fields of sheep; it was an idyllic place.

We were very fortunate to meet Nick and after the introductions he showed us round his brewery. The 10-barrel plant is at present running to capacity and serving a very thirsty local trade. We finally arrived at Masham where we deposited our bags and headed off to Theakstons brewery whilst our hosts left us to it as they prepared our lunch.

The trip started with a video of various aspects of the Theakston history and brewing process. That lasted about 12 minutes and it was off into the brewery proper. The tour was leisurely and relaxed. The brewery still produces most of the Old Peculier and is now starting to brew the new Cool Cask. All the fermenting vessels were in use so showing that they seem to be brewing around 100 barrels per week but this was never confirmed. One interesting tale is that the biggest market for Old Peculier at the moment is the Italians! I think they have given up on Guinness in favour of something that hits their tastebuds. After a few beers in the sampling room it was back for lunch.

Soon after we were on our way to Black Sheep brewery. You cannot help but be amazed when you get to the visitor centre of the slickness and professional running of the place. The trip started with yet another video...yawn, then we were off round the brewery. The visit lasted just over 1 hour. They were brewing about 90 barrels per week and their capacity is 100.

After sampling the fruits of the brewery we headed off to Swaledale and the Swaled Ale brewery in Gunnerside just over an hour later.

The brewery is in an out building to the rear of Fredís house and brews 1.5 barrels per week and he is kept busy.

He gave us a sample of one of his recent brews Staggered. Sitting outside enjoying the magnificent view and enjoying Fredís beers was the highlight of the day. Unfortunately we had to leave after staying around 2 hours. Back in the village, the lasses decided that they were going for a walk to the local tourist spot so Bob and I decided to visit the Kings Head to sample some more of Fredís beers. On sale were the house beer Kings Brew at 3.8% and Gang Bitter at 4.4%. After about an hour the lasses came back and that gave us an excuse to have another beer...

We left Gunnerside for base camp but stopped off at the Punch Bowl in Low Row for yet another of Fredís beers called Fredís by Fred.

After a long day we finally got back to Masham and bedÖ What a day. The Sunday is another tale
Mick Moss

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