Name of brewery’s newest offering rooted in history

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A BREWERY in North Yorkshire has given its latest seasonal ale an appropriate name.

For Masham-based T&R Theakston Ltd’s Cresset Ale, which goes on sale next month, has been named after the small iron basket in which offcuts from the oak cask making process are burned.

Pre-cut wooden staves that form the cask walls are first softened in steam before being bent into the familiar barrel shape, held together by metal hoops.

The cooper then places the cask over the cresset in order for the oak staves to be set in this position and thus remain in this shape for the life of the cask, which is usually between 30 and 40 years.

The brewery has a long tradition of supporting the art, employing coopers since the founding of the company in 1827, right through to the present day.

Cooper Jonathan Manby came to the brewery as an apprentice craft cooper at the age of 17 to work for the then master cooper, Clive Hollis. After a four-year apprenticeship, Mr Manby became fully qualified, making him the last apprenticed craft cooper in England.

Simon Theakston, T&R Theakston Ltd executive director, said the ale was an opportunity to honour the role that the skilled art of coopering has played in the company.

Mr Theakston said: “Our monthly seasonal ale range always proves extremely popular and this time we are honouring the role coopers have played in our company and also the wider brewing industry.

“Each year Jonathan makes hundreds of wooden casks in which our beers are conditioned. These are then sold all over the country and enjoyed by the growing army of real ale lovers.

“Coopering is an ancient art that we at Theakston’s are very proudly keeping alive, and Jonathan’s skills are fascinating to behold.”

Mr Manby conducts frequent exhibitions of his skills and his Coopers’ shop can be seen from the brewery’s Visitor Centre in Masham.

Mr Theakston added yesterday: “The whole team here at Theakston’s is really proud of our latest brew, and we are sure it will prove to be a sure-fire winner with our customers.”

The beer will be available from tomorrow and its tenure will continue for the rest of the month.