Black Sheep Brewery - Holy Grail
Serving Temperature:47-52° F
Suggested Glassware:Pint Glass or British Nonic
While we may have initially been a bit skeptical of this Monty Python-themed brew, that feeling quickly melted away after we opened it. First produced in 1999 as a collaboration between Black Sheep and Monty Python to celebrate the comedy troupe’s 30th anniversary, it has since become a very popular staple of the brewery. Pouring a medium amber color with good clarity and a lasting head of foam, this certainly looks the part of an authentic English pale ale. On the nose, we get some really nice and distinctly British hop character delivering notes of herbal spice, some woodsy elements, floral qualities, and a fruitiness that reminds us of pear and a hint of white grape juice. Lurking below is a supportive malty thread of caramel and toast. Look for those malty elements to come through prominently on the palate, with plenty of toasty bread, caramelization, and a hint of nuttiness, joined by some fruity esters which conjure impressions akin to dried fig and apple. A well-balanced ale, Holy Grail delivers a moderate level of hop bitterness as a counterpoint to that malty core, along with pleasant herbal, earthy, floral, and woody overtones. For food pairings, the brewery vehemently recommends Spam (which will make sense if you’re a Python fan). We’d recommend British pub favorites like bangers & mash and shepherd’s pie, or a plate of cheeses like Cotswold, Cheddar, and Gloucester. In general, most toasty, bready dishes should play well, too. A chicken or turkey pie sounds quite good to us. Cheers!
The Black Sheep Brewery came to life in 1992, founded by Paul Theakston. Paul was a 5th generation family brewer for the well-known T&R Theakston brewery when he decided to leave the family business after it was acquired by a large national brewer. He struck out on his own, choosing to build his own independent brewery in the very same town of Masham. This ‘black sheep’ acquired an old malthouse in 1991 to serve as the home for his new endeavor, and set about building his brewing system using components scrounged up from older breweries, much of which is still in use today. In 1992, the first beer was brewed, and the business has been growing ever since.
In 1999, Black Sheep collaborated with Monty Python to create Holy Grail, a beer which has become a popular icon for the brewery (and our featured beer this month). They’ve since gone on to introduce Flying Circus (an IPA) and Brian (a pale ale). The brewery expanded in 2006, doubling capacity, and then in 2010 Paul’s son Rob joined the Black Sheep team as managing director, ensuring this family brewery would continue into the next generation and beyond.
The brewery currently operates four pubs, two in York and two in Leeds, as well as their Bar & Kitchen on premises at the Visitor Centre at the brewery in Masham. They also have brewery operations in Canada to serve the North American market. Black Sheep focuses on both traditional British ale styles, including several cask ales, as well as more modern styles like their First Things Last West Coast-style IPA, and even a cider. For more info, visit them at www.blacksheepbrewery.com.
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