Paul Theakston, founder and Black Sheep, was born into a brewing dynasty. Paul’s family and the T & R Theakston firm had been brewing in Masham for five generations before it was finally taken over by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries.
The ‘old’ family firm had been subject to a series of acrimonious battles which lead to the takeover in the late eighties, and although Paul was offered a role in the ‘big’ company his heart was always in Masham.
So in a brave move, and with a growing family to support, Paul made the decision to leave and follow his heart. Some soul searching soon followed but soon the idea was born, to start afresh. So in an era of bland mass produced beer in 1992, Masham gained a pioneering new brewery, built on traditional values and rescued equipment but designed to brew beer with real flavour. The name ‘Black Sheep’ was actually the idea of Paul’s wife Sue, who came up with it in the kitchen of their family home.
Major features of today’s Black Sheep Brewery tour are in fact the salvaged wares from other now defunct breweries. The brewing copper, mash tun, hop-back, and the Yorkshire Stone Square fermenting vessels were refugees from other breweries; three of the fermenting vessels were literally snatched from under the ball of a demolition contractor. Black Sheep wasn’t just designing a new brewery, but bringing in subtle touches that championed the UK’s proud brewing heritage.