T&R Theakston is a brewery in the market town of Masham, North Yorkshire, England. The company is the sixteenth largest brewer in the UK by market share, and the second largest brewer under family ownership after Shepherd Neame.
T&R Theakston Ltd. was founded in 1827 by Robert Theakston and John Wood at the Black Bull pub and brewhouse in Masham. By 1832, Theakston had sole ownership of the brewery and in 1875 he passed control over to his son Thomas who expanded the range of buildings by building the new brewery on the Paradise Fields.
In 1919, the company acquired and closed down the Lightfoot Brewery, also in Masham.
Theakston's expanded into Cumbria in 1974 buying the Carlisle State Management Brewery. The brewery had been owned and operated by the government since 1916. However, the site was a financial drain on Theakston's and led to the company being taken over in 1984 by Blackburn based brewer, Matthew Brown plc. Matthew Brown was itself taken over by Scottish & Newcastle in 1987.
Paul Theakston (Managing Director since 1968) left Theakston's in 1988, and in 1992 established the Black Sheep Brewery in the old Lightfoot Brewery premises - located adjacent to the White Bear Hotel, one of Theakston's pubs.
The Carlisle brewery was closed in 1987, and brewing of some Theakston beers was transferred to Scottish & Newcastle's Tyne Brewery.
In 2004, the business returned to family control after four Theakston brothers purchased a majority shareholding back from Scottish & Newcastle. As of 2016[update] Major development works at the Masham Brewery enabled the company to announce that brewing of Theakston Best Bitter would return to Masham in 2009.
The company produces cask and bottled ales. Theakston cask ales are widely available in pubs in the north of England, though are less common in other parts of the country. The bottled beers are also widely distributed to British supermarkets and exported to Germany and the United States.
The company produces five regular cask ales and six seasonal. Only two of the beers are filtered and pasteurised to be made available in bottles, Theakston XB and Old Peculier.
Best Bitter (3.8% ABV) is regularly paired with XB in pubs, Theakston Best Bitter is the company's most easily found product, served in many pubs, mainly in the north of England.
XB (4.5% ABV) is a premium strength Bitter with a more complex flavour. It was launched in 1982.
Black Bull Bitter (3.9% ABV) was brewed to commemorate the Theakson's first pub where the first Theakston's beers were brewed and sold.
Lightfoot Bitter (4.1%abv) originally brewed as a seasonal bitter, but with its high popularity has become a regular Theakstons brew. Golden in colour and bitter in taste.
Old Peculier (5.6% ABV), an old ale, is Theakston's most famous beer. Old Peculier has been made under this name since the 1890s. In 2000, the cask version of this beer won the silver medal in the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)'s Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition. The label on the bottled version of the beer describes it as a "full bodied, rich, smooth tasting ale with a mysterious and distinctive flavour". It is named after the peculier of Masham, a peculier being a parish outside the jurisdiction of a diocese. In 1985, The Economist dubbed it the "doyen of real ales".
The six seasonal ales are Cooper's Butt (4.3% ABV), Hogshead Bitter (4.1% ABV), Grouse Beater (4.2% ABV), Masham Ale (6.5% ABV) and Paradise Ale (4.2% ABV).
The brewery runs a small visitor centre at its home in Masham where guided tours are given about the actual working brewery. At the end of the tour, visitors are given tokens that can be exchanged for drinks at the bar of the Black Bull in Paradise, named after the original pub (Black Bull) and the location of the new brewery (Paradise Fields). There is also a small shop, selling crates of bottled XB and Old Peculier, beer glasses, T-shirts and an assortment of other souvenirs.
- "Michael Theakston", the Guardian, 1 October 2004. Retrieved 28 November 2011
- "The Brewery", Theakstons.co.uk. Retrieved 28 November 2011
- "Theakston's Best Bitter returns home to Masham", The Publican's Morning Advertiser, 14 July 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2011
- "Barnley's Bitter - Brewery News", Barnsleycamra.org.uk, April–May 1992. Retrieved 28 November 2011
- "Newcastle and Brown's ale." Economist [London, England] 6 April 1985: 70+. The Economist Historical Archive 1843-2006. Web. 19 August 2011.
- "Brewer goes back to its roots". BBC News. BBC. 10 September 2003. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- "Brewer Theakston's expands plant". BBC News. BBC. 8 December 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2011.