Last weekend I had a lovely weekend with the ladies. We decided to spend the day at Eden Hall day spa in Newark near Nottingham. I am originally from that area so it is always nice to go home. The spa is lovely, it was so lovely to spend the day immersed in girly chat and we managed to get some sunbathing in. The reason why I am writing this is not to show off about my day spa experience but to tell you about the food, the best bit. It’s always about the food I know. The lunch was superb and all the ingredients were locally sourced. I think I loved it because it was all locally sourced to my home. The meat was from Tuxford (where I went to school), the beer was from Sutton which is down the road, the cheese was from Cropwell Bishop. Just to top it off I had my favourite pudding Eton mess. I was officially the happiest person ever that day, and we topped off the evening with some beer garden action sampling good old English cider.
Our second destination in Masham was luckily just over the road from the Black Sheep Brewery so it was only a hop, skip and a jump to sampling some more fine ales…
The Theakton’s Brewery visitor centre was much smaller and cosier place than the Black Sheep Brewery which was right up my street. Again, we opted to forego the tour and head straight to the pub (some things never change!)
A little about Theakston’s Brewery…
Way way back in 1827, it all started when Robert Theakston leased the Black Bull Inn and brewhouse in Masham. In 1875 his son, Thomas, built the famous brewery that still stands today on an area of Masham known as “Paradise Fields”, hence “The Black Bull in Paradise” named Visitor Centre.
It’s taken around 180 years for Theakstons’ range of classic and seasonal ales to develop into the legend that they are today.
The brewery has seen numerous changes during that time including ownership battles and development of many of the traditions still in existence today. Scottish and Newcastle took charge of the brewery for a stint, but now it is back in the very capable hands of the Theakston Brothers (Nick, Simon, Tim and Edward) – the fifth generation of Theakston brewers.
Rather than write an account of each beer – please click on the links above to read the tasting notes from the Theakston website who perfectly describe the tasty range of flavours in each brew.
We had to sample a few different ales to try and reach a decision but in the end the panel was still divided. Surprisingly, Lou and Becs (who aren’t really bitter drinkers) really liked the full bodied strong and deep flavour of ‘Old Peculiar’ which is quite rightly known as a legendary ale. Gray was partial to a pint of Best Bitter and I really liked the fruityness of Theakstons XB. Basically, they are all pretty damn tasty and well worth trying!
2 hours North of Manchester are the Yorkshire Dales and Swaledale is at the top. We bravely camped in the first week in May in Keld (where apparently it always rains – but not when we were there!).
We stayed at Rukins campsite which is located on the Pennine Way and is therefore nicely busy with walkers and campers.
The campsite has amazing views over the dales, a small shop, cafe (lush bacon & egg sarnies) and a stream where you can build your own fire. It’s brilliant and there are some decent pubs nearby – one is a bit of a hike into Muker but well worth it for the views and, obviously, the beer.
The Sunday Times recently reckoned it was one of the best walks in Britain (after we had visited of course!).
We had a great time there and we think you would too!
As part of Carry On Britain’s mini tour of the Yorkshire Dales, we descended on the little town of Masham. Home to two of Yorkshire’s finest breweries; Black Sheep and Theakston’s, it seemed rude not to at least have a little taste!
After our cheese eating session at Wensleydale Creamery, we needed something to quench our thirst so we pointed the Sat Nav at Masham, full steam ahead!.
First up was the Black Sheep Brewery. Unfortunately we’d just missed the guided toor and with nearly an hour till the next one, we decided to grab a pint of the black stuff and mull over our next move.
A little about Black Sheep Brewery…
Started back in October 1992 by maverick brewer Paul Theakston, Black Sheep was the result of Scottish and Newcastle gaining control of the Theakston’s family brewery T & R Theakston Ltd in 1987. Not wanting to be part of the changes afoot in the old family business, but not wanting to leave Masham either, Paul decided that the small brewery life was for him and set about building the Black Sheep Brewery that we know and love today.
Built on the site of the old Lightfoot brewery, Black Sheep’s premises house the brewing plant along with a vistor centre including a bistro and shop. The centre is a large open space which, while very nice, did have a slight feel of the corporate chain-pub to it (but maybe that’s just me – I love small, cosy, country pubs). The food did look and smell amazing though. I can’t comment on the tour as we didn’t take part, but I’ve heard good reports (from me mum, amongst others) so it’s probably worth a visit. If you have been, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought!
Black Sheep brew 3 Cask Ales:
Far and away their best selling cask beer, a well hopped, light golden best bitter with a distinctive, dry, refreshing taste, to be enjoyed in true Black Sheep style through a rich creamy head.
Brewed using traditional methods and finest ingredients.
- ABV 3.8%
Black Sheep Ale
Full flavoured premium bitter, with a rich fruity aroma. It is brewed with many generous handfuls of choice Golding hops giving a bittersweet malty taste, followed by Black Sheep’ characteristic long, dry and bitter finish.
- ABV 4.4%
The pick of the Black Sheep flock – a strong deep chestnut brown beer with a rich near-white head and the aroma of freshly roasted coffee.
A wonderfully complex palate with hints of coffee, bananas and liquorice leading to a classic Golding hop finish.
- ABV 5.9%
Best Bitter is definitely my favourite of the 3. It’s a light golden session beer with a deliciously dry refreshing taste. Black Sheep Ale has a slightly more fuller flavour and bitter finish, whereas Riggwelter (when a sheep is on its back and can’t get up without help, it is said to be ‘riggwelted’) has a very distinctive taste and smell of roasted coffee which was a little strong for my pallete – nice for something different, but not a session beer. A few pints and it would indeed put you on your back!
All in all – good stuff! I would like to go back sometime and do the full brewery tour.
Next stop – Theakton’s Brewery…
This weekend saw the Carry on Britain team travelling to the Yorkshire Dales in search of cheese and good bitter (I know, so easily pleased). Over the next few days each one of the team will give a round up of what we did and where we went but I will kick off with a basic round up and to talk about the best and the most important (in my opinion) WENSLEYDALE CHEESE.
Ok, so this weekend the team and I packed up the car full of camping equipment and essentials such as toilet roll and beer and headed to the Yorkshire Dales. After a brief break on the side of the M61 to mourn the loss of the camping chair that fell out the roof box, we arrived in good time. We pitched up the tent (more about the campsite later) then headed out for a walk to a pub in Muker for lunch and refreshments. We spent the afternoon drinking beer, eating ploughman’s lunches and soaking up the sunshine. That evening we spent the evening making a fire (a real necessity when camping in early May) and having a bbq. It was only later when we retired to the pub to get warm that we realized soaking up the sunshine resulted in the reddest nose I have ever seen, my nose has only just returned to normal 3 days later!
On Sunday, after a rubbish nights sleep we decided to go home via Wensleydale and the Black Sheep brewery.
So now the best bit……
WENSLEYDALE CHEESE. Oh my god!!!! HEAVEN!
We did the tour (which was a fantastic bargain at £2.50 per person) and saw where the cheese is made and watched a video on the whole process. All very interesting, but I was itching to get to the best bit. The shop, the shop where you can taste all the Wensleydale cheeses.
So what was on offer? Wensleydale, Mature Wensleydale, Extra Mature Wensleydale, Yorkshire Blue, Smoked Blue, Wensleydale with cranberries, blueberries, mango and papaya, Wensleydale with chives, Wensleydale with Onion and also Wensleydale with ginger. Not forgetting Goats milk Wensleydale and also Cheddar with wholegrain mustard
It was brilliant. We bought loads. My favourites were the Yorkshire Blue and the Wensleydale with onions, but my ultimate favourite is Wensleydale with mango and papaya. We also brought a ginger Wensleydale cheesecake, which did rock my world – No cheesecake will ever live up to that! All in all…very exciting. After that we decided to go to the Black Sheep Brewery and then to Theakston’s Brewery where I had a bitter revelation and things went slowly downhill (in a good way) from there.