Black Sheep Brewery

Black Sheep Brewery joins independent brewers calls to the Chancellor to support industry investment and secure thousands of jobs



Black Sheep Brewery has joined forces with a group of fellow small independent UK breweries to encourage the Chancellor of the Exchequer to introduce measures to invest in the future of a much-loved British industry.

The Masham-based brewery is one of the signatories on a letter to Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP recommending a series of policy ideas to help independent British brewers invest in its operations, including halving beer duty bills, which would provide an immediate financial boost and support the restarting of their brewing and pub operations.

The brewers have also called for the same level of government support that has been afforded to other areas of the hospitality sector. Despite being a primary supplier to pubs and restaurants, breweries have not been eligible for business rate holidays or the £25,000 business support grant.

Other measures recommended to the Chancellor include encouraging HMRC to take into account the record low levels of beer production in its duty calculations and give brewers additional time to pay.

If the government supports the independent brewery sector with the introduction of these measures it would enable Black Sheep to protect jobs and make a series of investments to increase the sustainability of the business.

This includes accelerating the investment it is already making into its own packaging plant in Masham, which will create new jobs in the town.

A reduction in beer duty costs would allow Black Sheep to continue and expand its Yorkshire home delivery service, which it launched at the start of the government lockdown, and would ensure it can continue to serve vulnerable and remotely-located customers.

It would also support the brewery’s activity to make its operations COVID-proof as it works to get back to pre-lockdown production levels. In addition, this investment will be essential for Black Sheep’s Visitor Centre, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Andy Slee, Chairman of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “Independent UK breweries are a vital part of our industry, contributing billions of pounds to the economy, supporting thousands of jobs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecedented threat to small British breweries and the jobs they support.

“Following the closure of pubs and restaurants breweries lost 80 percent of their business overnight, but we are ready to fight back and need the support of the government to make the necessary investments to sustain and grow our businesses.

“The introduction of a temporary duty reduction would provide spend with our smaller suppliers, many of whom are Yorkshire based. It will therefore also help protect their businesses and multiple jobs too further down the supply chain.”



For further information contact Jamie Collis 01325 363436

Editors’ Notes:

The Black Sheep Brewery is one of British brewing’s most famous stories and has grown from humble beginnings to become a multi-award-winning company, with its beers enjoyed around the world.

Black Sheep has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s most recognised brands, with its beer distributed both nationally and internationally. Black Sheep continues to champion the county of Yorkshire and is the official brewer of the annual Tour de Yorkshire.

Black Sheep is a multi-award-winning brewer, having enjoyed numerous accolades in recent years including:

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Beer Champion 2017

International Brewing Awards – Milk Stout – Overall Champion (International Dark Beer)

World Beer Awards 2019 – Milk Stout – UK Winner

World Beer Awards 2019 – Pathmaker – Gold Award

World Beer Awards 2019 – Black Sheep Ale – Silver Award

World Beer Awards 2019 – Guzzler– Bronze Award

World Beer Awards 2019 – Pineapple Milkshake IPA- Bronze Award

Based in Masham, in the heart of North Yorkshire, Black Sheep brewed its first beer in 1992 after being built up by Paul Theakston, whose family had brewed in the area for six generations.

In a world of ever-increasing bland, mass-produced beer, Paul saw an opportunity to return to what his family had done best since 1827, making real beer in the time-honoured fashion.

An old maltings building, once part of Lightfoot's Brewery, became the Brewery’s home. This landmark building, which stands high over the banks of the Ure, had fallen into disrepair as years of neglect as a semi-redundant grainstore had taken its toll. Paul assembled a small team around him to fight the rats and build a traditional country brewery.

The Visitor Centre, at the site of the iconic brewery, has grown to become an award-winning attraction for visitors to Yorkshire, with tens of thousands of people flocking to Masham each year. In 2018, the Visitor Centre had a thorough refurbishment and offers the general public a menu of locally sourced Yorkshire food, its range of award-winning beers and tours of their iconic brewery.

In 2018, Black Sheep announced the purchase of York Brewery, which included the acquisition of four pubs in the business and key cask brands, including Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.

The outlets bought by Black Sheep, as part of the deal, are as follows:

Last Drop Inn, York

Mr Foley’s Tap House, Leeds

The Three Legged Mare, York

The addition of York Brewery complements the strong, iconic Black Sheep brand and its existing award-winning beers and brands.

In 2018, Black Sheep also purchased the Chapel Allerton based bar, ‘Kith and Kin’ which they have since refurbished and renamed the ‘Black Sheep Tap & Kitchen’, which was officially launched on 28th February 2019.

The Black Sheep name derived from Masham’s association with sheep, but ‘Sheep Brewery’ didn’t quite sound right, so with a little creativity from Paul’s wife, the Black Sheep Brewery was born - a name that sat well with the area, spoke volumes about the business’ maverick attitude to the multi-nationals seeking to dominate the brewing industry and captured the essence of the family struggle that led to its birth.

Black Sheep’s beers are full of character derived from the best possible brewing materials, plenty of time and patience in the brewing and its very special Yorkshire Square fermenters.

Black Sheep Best Bitter is now one of the best-selling cask session beers in the UK and many of its creative brews, over the course of its 25-year history, have collected numerous awards – ranging from Black Sheep’s traditional ales to its up and coming craft beers.

2017 marked the launch of Black Sheep Brewery’s first lager, 54 Degrees North, created in homage to its hometown of Masham, which sits on 54’ 13’ 24” N; 1’ 39’ 20” W longitude and latitude lines, as the company embarks on an adventurous new chapter in its distinguished history.

In 2019, the brewery diversified their offering and entered the world of spirits by producing their own Black Sheep Yorkshire Dry Gin. The gin is distilled in Masham and within the production it features classic brewing ingredients including malted barley and Lemondrop hops.

Instagram: @blacksheepbrewery

Twitter: @BlackSheepBeer

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Andy Slee, Chairman of Black Sheep Brewery
Andy Slee, Chairman of Black Sheep Brewery
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