BeerCast #17 – North Yorkshire

Posted by on Jun 19, 2008 in BeerCasts, English Beer | No Comments

After the excitement of our London recording last time out, for the 17th BeerCast podcast we return to our roots – almost literally for one of the panellists. Back in our glittering Edinburgh studio we sample four beers from North Yorkshire, acquired during our Easter time-ish break to York. We begin with Copper Dragon Challenger IPA (4.8%) from Skipton, before moving to the small town of Masham (with a silent H) and try a beer from each of the major brewers there – Theakston XB (4.5%), followed by Black Sheep Ale (4.4%). Finally we end on Suddaby’s Auld Bob (6.0%), which Shovels – North Yorkshire born and bred – knows very well. Joining him and Richard on the panel is the welcome return of the Hopmeister, aka Tom.

1. Copper Dragon Challenger IPA (4.8%abv)
Copper Dragon Brewery, Skipton.
500ml glass bottle

Copper Dragon were originally known as the Skipton Brewery, and first opened in 1816 near the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Initially powered by a water wheel, the brewery continued until the start of the 20th Century, when it was taken over by Bentleys of Woodlesford and closed. But in 2002 Steve Taylor and Ruth Bennett reopened the concern after a two-year feasibility study. They renamed it the Copper Dragon Brewery and now own ten pubs, whilst producing 250 barrels a week.

What They Say“A truly traditional premium ale brewed to revive flavours enjoyed by our Victorian ancestors. Full bodied and fruity with subtle overtones.” [Official Website]; “Amber coloured, this is a best bitter in the traditional style. Initial maltiness gives way to fruit, hops, and a growing bitter, dry finish.” [Good Beer Guide]

What We Say
Richard – A bit malty for an IPA but nice and drinkable 7
Shovels – More bittery than the usual IPA tastes 7
Tom – There’s a hint of ashtray towards the end 6

2. Theakston XB (4.5%abv)
Theakstons Brewery, Masham.
500ml glass bottle

Theakston’s are one of Britain’s real success stories when it comes to breweries. ‘T&R Theakston Ltd’ was founded in 1827 at the Black Bull Pub in Masham. In 1919 they acquired and closed the town’s other brewery, Lighfoot’s, and concentrated production. Always a family business, eventually operations were conducted by four of the Theakston brothers, but sadly in 1987 financial constraints led to a takeover by Scottish & Newcastle. Happily, however, in 2004 the four Theakstons bought the business back from corporate S&N and it is now in family hands once again.

What They Say“A premium strength, ruby coloured ale with a rich flavour and full body. The balance between bitterness and fruitiness from the Bramling Cross and Fuggle hops used to give XB the distinctively complex aroma, making it the beer to savour.” [Official Website] “There are more flavours in the beers brewed by Theakston in Masham than there are from an entire wine growing region in France.” [Roger Protz]

What We Say
Tom – I could get fired into that of an evening, my favourite beer I’ve had on the BeerCast 9
Shovels – Subtle and enjoyable aley caramel flavours
Richard – It’s just as good as beers from the NorthWest 8

3. Black Sheep Ale (4.4%abv)
Black Sheep Brewery, Masham.
500ml glass bottle

After S&N acquired Theakston’s in 1987, one of the family became so dispirited that he decided to do something drastic. Paul Theakston left the business to start his own brewery, setting up in the old Lightfoot’s premises over the road. However, S&N had trademarked the name so he had to come up with another name. Apparently it was his wife that suggested the name ‘Black Sheep’. So once again Masham supported two large brewers (the town has a population of about 1300), with Black Sheep concentrating on cask ale (70% of their production). Their familiar ram’s head logo is a common sight over the Yorkshire Dales.

What They Say“Our most famous bottled beer, Black Sheep Ale is fermented in the unusual Yorkshire Square system to produce a distinctive robust taste. Brewed with many generous handfuls of choice Golding hops, it is a full flavoured premium ale with a rich fruity aroma and an uncompromising long, dry and bitter finish.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Very different to XB, tastes like a standard bitter
Shovels – Slightly disappointing, I much prefer it on draught
Tom – Very different to the draught ale, far too dry for me 5

4. Suddaby’s Auld Bob (6%abv)
Suddaby’s Brewery, Malton.
500ml glass bottle

The Suddaby family name has gone hand in hand with the North Yorkshire market town of Malton for over a century. Suddabys has once again been voted “Rural Pub of the Year” by Scarborough CAMRA – this is the eighth time in nine consecutive years that the pub has scooped the award. The Suddbay beers, however, are produced under license by the Brown Cow Brewery in Selby, as there are no production facilities in Malton.

What They Say“Suddaby’s award winning Auld Bob is a rich dark full-bodied ale brewed with a combination of two dark hops and the finest English malt to produce a full flavoured and unique ale.” [Official Website] “Deep ruby strong ale with a rich velvet finish.” [Good Beer Guide]

What We Say
Shovels – We used to need Coca Cola chasers to stomach this 5
Richard – I want to like it but I’m struggling 4
Tom – It’s every bad drink you had as a kid that made you sick 2

BeerCast panel verdict

Theakston XB – 25½/30
Copper Dragon Challenger IPA – 20/30
Black Sheep Ale – 18/30
Suddaby’s Auld Bob – 11/30

Panellists – (from bottom left) Richard, Shovels, The Hopmeister



We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with episode 18 – our second BeerCast Japanese Beer special. Stay tuned for details…and please leave us comments on the blog or iTunes, or emails. Cheers!

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