Mystery solved as US cop tipple becomes real ale

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A festive ale owes its beginnings to a hit American TV series.

Viewers of US hit TV crime drama NCIS: Los Angeles might be more used to its characters solving gritty crimes rather than drinking Theakston’s ale.

But in 2011 the cast of the crime drama ended their Christmas episode by drinking from a barrel of Theakston’s Christmas Ale, apparently flown in from Yorkshire. After the programme, staff at the brewery received calls asking where the special beer could be bought.

The trouble was, it didn’t actually exist.

Until this Christmas, that is, because this year the company has been prompted by all the interest to go ahead and make Christmas Ale a reality from its fictional beginnings across the Atlantic.

One of the main characters, Hetty Lange, portrayed by Linda Hunt, is seen to tap a wooden cask, and, after pouring a glass, says: “This is Theakston’s Christmas Ale, flown all the way from Yorkshire in England, and brewed like it was in Charles Dickens’s time.”

Victoria Bramley, Theakston’s marketing manager said: “The response we received following the screening was remarkable.

“The Theakston’s brand has been growing in popularity in recent times, with cask ale sales growing across the globe.

“We are now exporting our products all over the world to countries including the USA, Mexico, China and Australia, as well as the beers continued success throughout Europe.”

The link-up between forensic investigators and the Masham brewery is more understandable given that Theakston’s has been sponsoring the Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate for the past nine years. The event attracts many writers and visitors from the US.

“It’s a real Christmas pudding of an ale,” says Simon Theakston, one of the fifth generation of the family and for the past nine years executive director of the company.

“It’s a wonderful blend of ingredients and ideal for this time of year,” Mr Theakston said last night.

The beer is the latest to be added to a range that comprises five permanent and a dozen seasonal ales.

When asked which his favourite is, Mr Theakston said he found it hard to single one out

“There’s a kaleidoscope of varieties and which one you like depends on your mood, the time of day and so on.

“Sometimes you just can’t beat Best Bitter but after a game of cricket, when you’ve scored a few runs, there’s nothing like a pint of Lightfoot.

“There again, Old Peculier is for those lovely warm evenings by the fire and it retains a dedicated following,” Mr Theakston added.

Now Theakston’s is spreading the name of Yorkshire outside Britain too. Having already been featured on one of America’s best-known drama series, now it is being exported around the world.

The US is the company’s biggest export market but it sells in 18 overseas countries in all. “The rest of the world is realising that a lot of good is coming out of Yorkshire,” Mr Theakston says.

“It’s a matter of huge pride that something we’re making here is being consumed in China, Argentina and Australia.”

Christmas Ale is available until the end of December. For more information visit

The company has absorbed five generations of the Theakston family and there are hopes a sixth generation will be lifting a glass to the future of the business.

“The next generation is of an age when they haven’t decided yet on their long-term careers but it’s pretty certain one or more of them will be coming in,” Mr Theakston added last night.

NCIS: Los Angeles (Naval Criminal Investigative Service: Los Angeles) premiered in the United States in 2009 and takes on the undercover work and difficult-to-solve cases in Los Angeles.