T&R Theakston, Ltd. - Old Peculier
- Alcohol by Volume: 5.6%
- Serving Temperature: 48-55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Snifter, Pint Glass
Old Peculier is Theakston's most famous beer and has been brewed under this name since the late 19th century. It's crafted in the style of an "old ale", also sometimes known as a "stock ale", which was a beer traditionally matured for an extended period, often developing some oxidized notes and a vinous, mildly acidic edge. These ales were then sometimes blended with fresh ale to add dimension and complexity to the younger brew. Old Peculier pours a very attractive deep reddish-garnet color, topped by a cap of foam that leaves some light lace as it recedes. We find the aroma of this beer really complex and inviting; look for prominent fruity overtones of prune, raisin, and fig, underpinned by rich caramel and brown sugar notes and a woody, earthy, and softly floral Fuggle hop character. Creamy smooth on the palate, this beer delivers a core of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and dark fruit esters that's balanced well by the mild hop bitterness. There's a light hint of oxidation to add a sherry-like component, while a touch of roasted barley adds just a bit of an edge to the mix. We enjoyed the toasty, woody, and nutty character that wells up in the finish, inviting us to take another sip of this supremely flavorful ale. The brewery recommends strong cheeses, hearty stews, and sweet puddings as accompaniments, and we agree - in fact, why not have all of them in one three-course meal? Cheers!
The family-run Theakston brewery traces its roots back to the year 1827 when Robert Theakston began leasing the Black Bull Inn in the town of Masham, and started brewing there. His brewing business expanded to other ale houses over the next several years, leading him in 1840 to build a new brewhouse at the Black Bull in order to keep up with demand. In 1875 Robert died, leaving his sons Thomas and Robert to take over and run the business. It was these brothers who established the name T&R Theakston, Ltd. for the company, and who opened a new brewing facility on a plot of Masham land known as Paradise Fields, where the brewery remains to this day.
By the dawn of WWI in 1914, Thomas' children, Robert, Edwin, Francis, and Dora were running the business, but when the men went off to war, Dora was left to run it alone. Fortunately, all three brothers returned from the war and became company directors in 1918. The next year, they acquired another Masham brewer, the Lightfoot Brewery, whose property they still own. In fact, some of their buildings were converted to a hotel adjacent to the White Bear pub in 2009, offering visitors to the brewery a convenient, local place to stay.
When Michael Theakston joined the brewery in 1968, he represented the fourth generation of the Theakston family to take part in the business, and his son Simon joined in 1981. Unfortunately in 1984 the brewery was taken over by Matthew Brown Plc, which was in turn taken over three years later by Scottish & Newcastle. It's a story repeated over and over again throughout Britain during this era, as brewing companies merged and merged again, with many small producers getting shuttered and forgotten. Thankfully, the Theakston brand survived, and in 2003, Simon and his brothers Nick, Tim, and Edward were able to regain control of the brewery, making it a family affair once again. Though their father, Michael, passed away shortly after, he was happy to see the business back in the family's hands. Over the next few years, the brothers set off on a mission to revitalize the business, installing new equipment and enlarging capacity, while returning to the age-old tradition of brewing cask ales for the first time in 35 years.
For more information on the brewery, visiting info, and scheduled tours, check out their website at www.theakstons.co.uk.
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