After a year of sampling ales I’ve never tried before and discovering new producers, today I headed back to the brewery that cemented my love for beer.
Sitting on the hillside, overlooking the road into the North Yorkshire town of Masham, Black Sheep Brewery’s history is well-documented.
This year marks Black Sheep’s 25th anniversary, so it is fitting that I made my first brewery trip of 2017 to this stalwart of modern, disruptive brewing.
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Borne of a desire to challenge bland beers, Black Sheep has become a major player in British brewing, but I was keen to see what was new after more than a year of me being away.
During the last two years, Black Sheep’s range has expanded considerably. They pushed into the 330ml market in 2015 with the addition of Glug M’Glug, Pathmaker and Moose Jaw, and collaborated on the joint venture, My Generation, and its flagship pale ale.
Glug (my own personal favourite), Pathmaker and My Generation are currently on the bar in keg format. While Glug is equally as nice on keg as it is in the bottle, the rather generous taster of My Generation’s keg offering represents an improvement on the canned drink.
But my first drink of the visit was a pre-lunch third of the new pale ale, Baa Baa. The Cascade hops aren’t too heavy and it’s very clear, light, fresh and smooth. Some pale ales can be sharp, but this was far from it and it’s a great addition to the range.
I followed this up with something I struggle to walk past on the rare occasion that I find it on a bar – Golden Sheep on cask. I’m a fan of the bottled version, but on cask it goes to another level. This is a drink I could enjoy all night, it’s just smooth and creamy without the headache-inducing qualities of more mass-produced “smooth” or “creamflow” beers.
I’ve brought home bottles of Shearer and the 2016-born Black Sheep IPA for future testing as well as some Imperial Russian Stout, which is a favourite in our house (a limited run is on the bar on cask, but as Mrs PDP is on painkillers and this is her favourite beer, I was uncharacteristically restrained).
Overall, it was a top notch visit to the Black Sheep Brewery, its bistro and Sheepy Shop. The meal was excellent, the opportunity to try a few beers at £1 for a third of a pint means you can comfortably get a few samples in, and the warm and friendly welcome is like walking into a very good local. Highly recommended.
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I’m 44, I don’t (always) have a beard (partly because when I try it is patchy, has gaps, with ginger and grey bits) and don’t take a clipboard to the pub. So, I’m not the stereotypical real ale fan of old, in the style that I was always told to look out for...read more