Black Sheep Brewery

Black Sheep raises a glass to its latest brewing apprentices


Date: 29/07/19

The Black Sheep Brewery is focused on the future with the arrival of two new apprentices.

Matt Hunter, 19, and Jacob Slater, 23, are embarking on a Diploma in Proficiency in Brewing and Industry Skills – which represents a departure in the brewer’s traditional working methods.

Those involved in the production process were historically trained to carry out a specific career-long task, but the Masham-based brewer, through its apprenticeship scheme, is providing its latest recruits with a comprehensive range of skills and industry knowledge.

Matt, from Leeds, and Jacob, originally from Bath, will be trained in every aspect of the brewing process – from the use of ingredients to flavour, laboratory work to quality assurance.

This not only widens their skill base by giving them a much greater depth of knowledge, but benefits the business by making it and their staff more responsive to developing trends within the industry.

Once the pair have completed their apprenticeships, there will be an opportunity to progress further by enrolling for a General Certificate in Brewing followed by a Diploma in Brewing and even the highest qualification in brewing, The Master Brewer.

Black Sheep welcomed its first two apprentices in 2015, who also completed the Diploma in Proficiency in Brewing and Industry Skills.

One has since left the company, but is still working in the brewing industry, while the other, Nick Norris, has progressed to become a leading member of the production team.

A third apprentice, Lewis Petfield, 25, of Northallerton, recently completed his Level 3 Diploma in Electrical and Electrical/Electronic Engineering and is now a valued member of the engineering team.

Jo Theakston, Sales and Marketing Director at The Black Sheep Brewery, said: “We are delighted to welcome our two latest apprentices as they will become an integral part of moving this business forward and achieving future success.

“Brewing beer is both a family tradition and a passion and Matt and Jacob will become well versed in a wide range of traditional skills as well as gaining an insight into more modern brewing methods, which includes areas such as hygiene and research.

“We are keen for our apprentices to progress through the business and continue to develop their expertise to the highest level to keep Black Sheep innovative and responsive and at the forefront of the brewing industry.”



CONTACT: Jamie Collis on 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, which was unveiled as the official beer of the Tour de Yorkshire and is the official brewery of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC).

In the past 12 months, Black Sheep has won a number of prestigious awards, including:

  • The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) National Independent Beer Awards 2018 – Glug M’Glug – Small Pack Gold Champion in the Porters, Stouts, Old Ales, Strong Milds & Strong Brown Ales category

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

World Beer Awards – Choc & Orange Stout – Gold Award

World Beer Awards – Riggwelter – Gold Award

World Beer Awards – Black Sheep Ale – Silver Award

World Beer Awards – My Generation – 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 in to 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, 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 Tap Room, York

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.

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.

Instagram: @blacksheepbrewery

Twitter: @BlackSheepBeer

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(L-R)Jacob Slater, Nick Norris and Matt Hunter in the brewhouse
(L-R)Jacob Slater, Nick Norris and Matt Hunter in the brewhouse
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