Tag Archives: craft beer

SIREN CRAFT BREW, RYESING TIDES RYE IPA

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Im not the most experienced drinker of beers brewed with rye.  So when I found this on the shelf of a local off licence, I thought I’d give it a go.  And I’ve got to be honest,  I’m happy I did. 

Siren Craft Brew is based in Berkshire Uk and specialise in artisinal craft beers, aiming to encourage people to look at beer in a different way.  Creating different and innovative beer using all different kinds of ingredients, including INSECT beer!!!!!! Which is soon to be bottled.  Must look out for that one. 

This rye ipa pours a gorgeous amber/orange colour and has a fantastic tropical citrus hop aroma.  The rye is subtle on nose, imparting a light toasty aroma hiding behind the hop bouquet.  The head was nice and thick suggesting a nice medium mouth feel.

This beer is 7.4%abv and is a fabulous balance of malt and hops.  It’s dangerously drinkable as the high alcohol is masked by the delicious malty, toasty toffee flavoured sweetness.  The hops engulf the pallet and are vibrant with tropical passion fruit, pinapple and grapefruity citrus.  Theres a good level of bitterness at the end which drys the pallet leaving you ready for your next thirst quenching sip.

If I’m honest. Im not too sure what the rye brings to the party.  Its very subtle and you can taste the toastiness and the subtle dryness it brings to the party.  It certainly does nothing to harm the drinking experience, yet doesn’t exactly elevate anymore either.  Never the less this is a great tasting IPA and one I can highly reccomend. 

I give this beer a more than respectable 8/10

GREAT DIVIDE YETI IMPERIAL STOUT

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There are moments in your life when you stumble across something that leaves you completely at a loss for words.  Moments that make you giggle like a young child for no other reason other than you simply don’t know what else to do.  I just had that moment.  Literally five minutes ago before writing this review.  I usually don’t write my reviews at the same time i’m savouring the subject im reviewing.  However I just need to tell people about how good this massive 9.5% abv imperial stout is right now.
  It’s phenomonal!!
The smell of roasty sweet maltiness and intense fruity hop character upon opening is merely a teaser of what’s to come upon opening up the bottle. It pours like a thick viscous liquid black gold forming a tight, thick dark tan coloured head, and believe me it leaves your mouth salivating at the prospect of drinking it. 

This beer is so veluptous and intense in its flavour profile.  Rich bitter chocolate at the front, silky smooth in the mouth, leads you on a dance with dark roast coffee, vanilla and spicy hop bitterness. The bitterness lingers but mellows at the back leaving thirst for more accents of burnt caramel and toffee and dark fruit notes.  Its sublime.  Its hard to describe in words.  Its simply fucking delicious. 

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Not to mention the comforting, warming alcohol content bringing the whole experience together in one big warm imperial hug.  I cant describe how much I love this beer. 

It saddens me that I live in the UK and its difficult to access this great beer over here.  I’d love to try other styles from Great Divide brewing company.  It is without a doubt a new addition to my bucket list to visit them in colorado meet the guys behind this beer which I believe is my favourite beer to date.  Look out for this one people.  10/10.

Christmas ale brewday in pics

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The ingredients

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Hlt up to strike temp

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Filling mashtun with strike water

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Doughed in 🙂

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First runnings

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Pouring first runnings onto ‘brew’foil so as not to disturb the grain bed 🙂

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Incase you are wondering what ‘brew’foil is.  Here u go.  It is merely….foil.

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Fitting the sparge arm

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Sparge time!!!!

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Time for a sparge time 15% beer 🙂

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Highly recomended

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Adding hops to the boil

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Sanitizing the fermenter

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Nice aeration.  Plenty oxygen for the yeasties 🙂

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Bourbon soaked raisens added to the fermenter

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Chill time.  From almost boiling to 20degrees celcius in less than 20 minutes

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Yeast starter made up the day before

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1.070 original gravity

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In you go yeasties.  Enjoy 🙂

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BREWPIGS!!!!

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Job done 🙂 

Brewery upgrade update

So last Saturday we placed our order for our new stainless steel 100litre HLT and our new stainless steel double insulated 78litre mash tun.  To say we are excited is a bit of an understatement.  The items are custom made to our own specific requirements and our HLT will be ready to collect this friday and the mash tun the following week. 

If you are a regular homebrewer using a plastic cool box and electrim plastic boilers then I’m sure you’ll understand the excitement of the imminent arrival of shiney brewing vessels.  Not to mention the capacity to triple our output.

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Our trusty old mashtun

So once the HLT is in place we are going to produce our final beer from our trusted 30 litre coolbox mashtun and make a christmas beer ready to bottle up and put away for the 2015 festivities.  Then when the new mashtun arrives a double 10 gallon batch of our optional hop pale ale will be made to christen the new ‘shiney’!! 

Im going to try and document our final brew on the old mashtun and do an updated post when the new mashtun arrives to give everyone a rundown on our brewery.  I may even begin doing some video reviews of first tastings of our homebrews.  I leave you with a picture of our optional hop pale ale and look forward to my next update on my brewing adventures.

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Optional hop pale ale

Going all out on the homebrew front

So, I know I dont really talk much about my passion for brewing my own craft beer.  Since there was always an abundance of ‘real ale’ available to buy in the UK,  I think my first foray into homebrewing with my brew buddy was more a case of trying it for the sake of just wanting to try making it.  I wasn’t even aware of what craft beer was at the time.  For us, real ale was the greatest thing out there, and we were going to make our own.  I remember our first brew like it was yesterday.  It was, looking back on it, hillarious.  After visiting our homebrew store and spending a couple of hundred pounds on a mash tun, a couple of plastic boilers and other beer making related utensils, a big bag of crushed grains, a packet or two of hops and some yeast  we were certain of our ability to produce an award winning English ale.  The guy that ran the homebrew shop did warn us that it will take us all day if we have never brewed all grain before. He even suggested trying a kit beer to begin with, but that was cheating to us.  It was the proper way or no way. So with a guarantee from the shop owner our first brew will fail we set off to my house, and by 10am we were like a pair of over enthusiastic 10 year olds on christmas morning, rigging our improvised gravity fed brewery up in my tiny kitchen.  Using the kitchen bench for the hot liquor tank, a stool for the mash tun.  And the boiler perched securely on the kitchen floor.  How could this fail we thought!!  Anyway, cut a long story short, 13 hours later there we were, tired, ratty, and stood out in the garden at 11pm trying to cool 23litres of wort down to a pitching temperature for the yeast.  Needless to say it was a complete disaster. 

Nowadays though we now operate out of waynes ‘state of the art’ brick built shed, using the same three vessels we originally bought.  Only with a few essential extras, like a wort chiller!!  We now make beer in around 5-6hours from start to finish.  Recently we discovered our love for genuine craft beer and it’s our mission to create delicious craft beer of our own. 

Our last two brews have been a most certain success.  We have brewed a most delicious IPA. Packed full of delicious tropical aromas and fruit flavours from simcoe hops.

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The result is delicious and everyone thats tried it are blown away.  Needless to say our passion and drive has gone through the roof and determined to help educate and teach people about the joy of true craft beer, we have given ourself a 12 month plan to hopefully turn our beer making into a business. 

So you can expect more posts on our homebrewing of craft beer shenanigans from now on,  as that is what is going to take up most of my time. Of course I’ll still be posting the odd review or two of great beers i get to try.  I hope you enjoy.

A story on the lack of hop forward, non cost cutting, thinking out the box modern craft beer available in the best bitter, boring real ale brewing Uk

Im not normally one to go into a full on rant, but quite frankly, I couldn’t be more annoyed at how slow and pathetic this country of mine is at truely getting on board this so called craft beer revolution.  Why isn’t it being made more available?  Other than Brewdog, there is  no craft beer on our supermarket shelves other than what is imported from America.  I want to see the mass amounts of microbrewery beer on our beer shelves to be true craft beer, not the same old boring malt overdosed bitters, milds, brown ales and golden ales.  Dont get me wrong.  I dont mind the odd one, but come on.  Other than the pretty but typically boring old man type labelling theres not a lot to tell them all apart.  Its as if the directive to the brewer was clairty and head retention. Completly overlooking the small details of flavour and aroma.  Come on microbreweries of the Uk.  Put some hops in your beer for heavens sake.  Give us some flavour.  And dont any of you realise that there are more hops available around the world. You can try something new world for a change instead of the usual Kent Goldings, or First gold. Which by the way pack about as much flavour as a bucket of cigarette butts.  Dont they realise that people want more flavour in their beer.  I recognise blending hops for bittering compared to blending them for flavour, aroma and bittering is a completly different challenge.  Hence why beer that tastes amazing is known as ‘craft’ beer.  So get crafty. I beg you.  Look at Brewdog.  They claim to use 40 times the amount of hops compared to the majority of uk microbreweries.  Look at the success they have.  Its not just the hip image and branding that makes their beer popular, its actually because its un fucking believably good beer.  Take a lesson from them. And give us some other options.  Dont get me wrong there are exceptions to the rule on this rant.  I have a love for a good handfull of real craft breweries in this country.  The Kernal, Alechemy,  Meantime and Tiny rebel to name a few few.  You all know who Im talking about.  Some of my favourite microbreweries, Blacksheep for example,who make really wonderful real ales.  I feel a brewery of this nature could and should be producing a top class high hopped IPA and give us something different to the norm,something thats slaps you around the face in hop flavour and aroma.

My brew buddy and I probably use more hops in our 5gallon brews at home than some of the bigger renowned breweries use.  So come on.  Pull your finger out. And dilute the shelf full of malty brown water and fill in the spaces with something a little more crafty. 

Rant over. 

Tiny Rebel, Urban IPA

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I was excited to sample this beer,  coming from Wales hip craft berwery Tiny rebel.  I was expecting an in your face hop filled modern IPA from them.  It started off quite well. Pouring a beautiful amber colour with a good finger thick if slightly light head.

The aroma was very inviting. Orange citrus scents, orange marmalade, honey sweetness,  a hint of passion fruit maybe.  Certainly very inviting.

However for my pallet l’m afraid it’s downhill from here on.  The aromas on this beer totally fail to transpire in the taste.  The mouthfeel is very thin. Imparting the very slightest malty flavour.  It’s almost watery if im completely honest. Which I feel bad saying, because I love the idea and concept behind this brewery.  Unfortunately this just leaves me incredibly underwhelmed.  The bitterness is very high.  For me considering the lack of malty sweetness in this, far too high.  Its very unbalanced.  There is not alot of fruity hoppy flavour considering its use of intercontinental hops which it states on the bottle.  Maybe a hint of grapefruit which develops on the pallet long after swallowing.  A very dry finish leaves you needing a quencher.  Unfortunately for me its just not this IPA i want to quench it.  A very low 3.5/10.

God bless America

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It’s pretty obvious today that the Uk is witnessing a phenomenal growth in the interest for craft beer.  It’s a term that is rather new, and not something everyone is clear on in its meaning.  To us Brits,  there are three types of drink we associate with in pubs that come in the form of a pint.  They are beer, lager and cider.  You either drink one of the three.  So what exactly is craft beer?  Like anything that is deemed to be crafted, you associate that it’s been made, or ‘crafted’ by someone that has a high level of skill in the making of a product.  Or that the product is authentic.  You could say that we have ‘real ale’,  and we do, glorious that it is though, for me, it isn’t what craft beer is.  It’s more than real ale. It takes real ale to another level.  An experimental level that when it pays off is so good, it’s results can leave the connissuers and enthusiasts talking about it for hours.

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Britain has a long standing tradition in beer.  We have been champions at brewing it for centuries.  Maybe that is what has held us back in the true craft beer stakes.  Tradition.  All well and good and something to be proud of.  Though that proudness can also bring out a level of intolerance to change.  Being so proud of our brewing methods and beer styles is what has delayed the explosion of craft beers in this great country of ours.

It’s little wonder the birth of true craft beer began across the pond in the USA.  There, they had no proud tradition in beer making.  Nothing to veer from in there production method and invention of this centuries old beverage.  Making beer was already a scene geared up to be experimented with in the USA.  Our experimental brewing scene,which is now growing rapidly in the Uk,  is built upon and influenced by the dare devil brewing scene in America.  Where the standard has well and truely been set.  Making our classic, beloved real ales appear not much better than a pint of flat, bland, malty river water in comparison.  The variance and vast choice of hops available to US brewers is immense.

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Following the de-regulation of brewing in 1979 in the USA,  enthusiasts, disillusioned with the generic, monolithic beer companies, were now permitted to start brewing themselves.  Old styles of beer were reinvented, with brewers focusing on creating a unique and high quality product.  Strict distribution regulations meant that much of the very best craft beer from the USA would hardly ever make its way to our shores.  It was only because of beer enthusiasts from the Uk, visiting the USA and sampling the amazing beer there, that the idea of making and supplying that style of beer to the people of the Uk came about. Best friends James Watt and Martin Dickie are at the forefront of starting the Uk craft beer revolution with thier brewery Brewdog.  Making it thier mission in 2007 to change peoples perception on what real beer is like.  Thier sole mission was to make people as passionate about beer as they were.  That is still thier mission today,and there are taking the Uk by storm with there hop heavy beer creations.

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Evin O’riordan went to New York planning to open his own cheese deli.  Until he began to taste the beer and realised there was nothing like it in the Uk.  He ditched the cheese shop idea, coming back to london and started brewing non stop until he perfected that American style hoppy beer he loved.  Eventually opening up The Kernal in London, which has grown into one of the most successful microbreweries in London.

Nowadays craft beer seems to be everywhere.  With Supermrkets buying into the growing demand offering a vast range of US craft beers amonst European beers and British craft beers.  Even the bigger more corperate breweries are recognising the trend and are attempting to bring out thier own versions to counter the craze, aswell as buying out small independant breweries.

So it has to be said in all fairness, that if it wasn’t for the passion, creativity and boldness of our friends across the pond.  Then maybe the delicious craft beer we are starting to find more and more may never have become available.  Therefore I feel obliged to salute you America, and thank you for being the creators and the original brewing alchemists that has developed such wonderful beer.  Beer that has began a revolution in the Uk.   A revolution that has seen the craft beer market increase by 79% in the last twelve months and is only forcast to grow more.

For those reasons alone I have only three words to say. God Bless America!!!!

Brewdog Libertine black ale

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I’ve sat staring at the cursor blinking on my screen for ages now.  This is about the tenth time I’ve came back to start this review, stared blankly at the screen, then abandoned the task in hand.  It’s like I’ve developed a mental stammer, where there is so much I want to say about this amazing beer, but there’s just no comprehendable way to begin, but I suppose one must try, so here it goes.

I suppose its difficult to write out a hop and burnt caramel, coffee and rich dark fruit induced orgasm on to a screen.  I suppose by explaining that a beer that is so fucking good,  so unbelivably genius that it leaves your head in an orgasmic spin, your legs as weak as jelly and your toes curled so hard your foot cramps. May sound a bit over the top, however if anyone heard my moans of appreciation upon tasting this unique beer this morning after a long nightshift, they may well have mistaken it for such thing. 

This beer so far, is the best I have ever tried.  It literally blows you away the second the layers upon layers of delicious aromas slap you in your face.

This beer pours jet black like a thick decadant porter or stout, with a thick tan coloured head.  Yet the initial aroma is that of grassy fruity hops. Which messes with your mind as to what it is exactly you are drinking. Its incredibly complex. An abundance of aromas that are layered, hiding, appearing at different stages as you work your way down the glass.  This is neither a stout or an Ipa but a gracious marriage of the two.  Beneath the hoppy tones lie rich dark roasted scents, coffee and burnt caramel are very much the dominant aromas, slight spicey notes of vanilla, maybe a hint of nutmeg are in there somewhere with definate undertones of dark fruits, most definiatly blackcuurant and maybe even cherry.

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When you take your first sip of this beer it instantly screams porter.  Rich and smooth,full bodied but not heavy in the slightest.  It still carries that crazy quaffable charactaristic of a bold fruity ipa, which just blows your mind and makes it a drinking experience like no other.  It makes me think this is something Willy Wonka would make if he were a brewer, so unique and out there in its boldness this beer is.  Your mouth is flooded with rich, hearty burnt caramel toffee flavours and a intense bitterness.  It’s difficult to explain.  Theres an almost burnt wood smokeiness to it, and lasting flavours of treacle, Coffee, and a warmness of alcohol that sets the saliva glands into overdrive.  Its so hard to not want more once you start.  The after taste just lingers in your mouth, purring at you not to forget, and seducing you to drink more.  The complex blend of malts and precise hop additions make this very easy to forget its 7.2%abv, which is rather dangerous(in a very good way). 

The true genius to this beer is the way it decieves. By immitating a delicious rich porter or stout, yet performing like a champion IPA in the mouth.  Its delicious. Its genius in its invention, and a beer I feel only those alchemist brewers at brewdog could create.

This beer is available online or at your nearest Brewdog Bar.  I highly recommend you check this beer out!!!

Masham, the centre of the universe

Nestled within the lush green countryside of North Yorkshire, England, lies a pretty little market town and parish, home to a mere 1,235 people.  Situated in Wensleydale on the western bank of the River Ure is the hidden gem of real ale production. The quintessential epicentre for locally produced fare, fine cask ales and cheery English wholesomeness.  I’m talking about, what is to me, the centre of the universe. Masham!

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Now I could quite happily waffle on for pages telling you all about everything Masham (pronounced Mass-am) has to offer, but  this is a blog about craft beer, and in my opinion that subject is where Masham comes into its own.  The simple reason for this is, Masham has not one, but two unbelievable brewerys.  I KNOW!!!!

Situated a mere 0.8miles apart in the centre of picturesque little Masham are Theakstons brewery and The Black sheep brewery.  If that wasn’t amazing enough.  Scattered inbetween them both are no less than four real ale pubs.  All boasting cosy open fires, traditional English pub decor, rooms to let, and all serving delicious, fresh locally produced food made to order. Oh, and of course a delightful array of superb cask ales.  This place really is a real ale lovers paradise.

Let me tell you about Theakstons.

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The picture above is of The Black Bull In Paradise, which is the tasting room and gift shop of the brewery.

The Brewery is the sixteenth largest brewer in the Uk by market share and the second biggest brewer under family ownership, behind Shepard Neame.

Theakstons brewery was established by Robert Theakston and John Wood in the Black bull pub and brewhouse, Masham in 1827.  By 1832 Robert Theakston had full ownership of the brewery and in 1875 handed it over to his son Thomas, who expanded the business, building a new brewhouse on the Paradise Fields.  Which kind of answers the question on why the tap room is named, The Black bull in Paradise.

Since then, the brewery has established itself as one of the major players in the Uk brewing industry.  Producing classic ales such as Old Perculiar.

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Which is a thick, strong dark ale.  With rich roasted malt flavours and subtle notes of liqorice and chocolate.  On the other end of the spectrum they produce a delicious light ale called Lightfoot, which is delicious and zesty with citrus bursting in your mouth.

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Along with common staples such as; mild, best bitter, XB, and Old Perculiar, they also offer a range of seasonal brews,including my favourite, Grouse beater.

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Named after the beaters who trawl the coutryside, banging sticks in order to scare the grouse to fly away, giving the hunters something to shoot at.  Its a delicious malty beer,with bags of orange citrus, and definatly one I Iook forward to each year.

The strange thing about the two brewerys in masham is they are most definitely connected to one another.  This is because in 1988 Paul Theakston left his position with Theaskstons following disagreements with his family and other shareholders running the company.  In 1989 Paul Theakston bought the North Yorkshire Malt Roasting Company from an animal feed company in order to start a new brewery. The Black Sheep Brewery was born.

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Paul, using the towns association with sheep came up with the name ‘Sheep Brewery’.  This quickly changed to ‘The Blacksheep Brewery’ which was chosen at his wifes request. I presume on account of the Theakston family dissagreements, meaning Paul became the ‘black-sheep’.  The brewery produces a range of well hopped beers and was an almost instant success.  The brewery now producing over 75,000 barrels a year.  The Blacksheep brewery produce two of my most favourite beers.  Blacksheep ale, a classic amber ale with rich malty flavours balanced perfectly with hops giving just the right amount of bitterness.  The second being ‘Golden Sheep’

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A delicious golden ale packed full of rich fruity hops. Other beers in thier range include; Best bitter, and Rigwelter. This is a strong dark ale that is super rich in roasted malt flavour and high bittering hops. The name given for when a sheep ends up on its back and is unable to get itself back on its feet. It then being branded ‘rigwelted’.  Perfect for sipping infront of a roaring open fire on a cold winters night.

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Recently they produced a one off beer to celebrate the start of the tour de france bike race which began in Yorkshire this year.  The beer was named ‘velo’, and was a delicious smooth blonde ale pack full of juicy cascade hops.  I was lucky enough to sample it on my last visit there and it was extremely good.

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The brewery also has a fabulous visitors centre,  offering tours, a bistro offering superb English cuisine, and it is also available for weddings and various other functions.  Not forgetting the ‘sheepy shop’ for all your branded merchendise.

So if your looking for a fabulous place to visit with amazing real ale and food then look no further than this gem of a place.  Pay Masham a visit.  You wont regret it.