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15th December 2020

Black Sheep Brewery unveils a limited-edition Imperial Russian Stout – two and half years in the making – just in time for Christmas

Black Sheep Brewery’s Rob Theakston with a couple of barrel matured Imperial Russian Stout

Black Sheep Brewery is ending 2020 with the launch of a limited-edition brew that has been two and half years in the making.

The special edition version of their iconic 8.7% ABV Imperial Russian Stout has been ageing since the summer of 2017 in a mixture of Bourbon and Whisky barrels at Black Sheep’s brewery with only 750 bottles produced.

Alongside its dark fruit flavours and rich sweet notes, which made it very popular with Black Sheep’s broad range of fans, the ageing process has imparted flavours of oak, sherry, smoky bourbon and rolled vanilla.

Exclusively available online from Black Sheep Brewery, the stout comes in wax-sealed 750ml bottles. Orders are being taken for deliveries before Christmas up to and including 18th December.

Every year the brewery creates a collection of seasonal beers that are available in pubs, predominately across the Yorkshire and the North East.

However, as a result of lockdowns and tier systems, which have forced pubs to close, Black Sheep quickly adapted to create a range of special beers that could be bought direct by the public through its online shop.

The ‘enjoy at home’ seasonal beers have proven popular with customers across the country and contributed to Black Sheep Brewery experiencing a massive increase in online orders by more than 500% in 2020.

Charlene Lyons, Chief Executive of Black Sheep Brewery, said: “Our Imperial Russian Stout has built quite a following from beers fans for more than five years, but this version is something even more special that drinkers will be keen to get their hands on! This once-in-a-decade limited edition brew has sat quietly in a corner of the brewery since the middle of 2018, slowly gaining a unique a blend of unique flavours just in time for Christmas.

“Our seasonal beers are always eagerly anticipated and a celebration of the brewing talents of the Black Sheep team, but like pretty much everything else this year we have had to approach them a little differently.  While we’d want our customers to experience them in their favourite pub, we’ve made it possible for them to enjoy them in the comfort of their own home.  The growth in our online orders shows our seasonal beers continue to be a hit with customers and we thank them for their support.”


Editors’ Notes:

The Black Sheep Brewery is one of British brewing’s most famous stories and has grown from humble beginnings to become a multi-award-winning company, with its beers enjoyed around the world.

Black Sheep has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s most recognised brands, with its beer distributed both nationally and internationally. Black Sheep continues to champion the county of Yorkshire and is the official brewer of the annual Tour de Yorkshire.

Black Sheep is a multi-award-winning brewer, having enjoyed numerous accolades in recent years including:

  • The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Beer Champion 2017
  • International Brewing Awards – Milk Stout – Overall Champion (International Dark Beer)
  • World Beer Awards 2019 – Milk Stout – UK Winner
  • World Beer Awards 2019 – Pathmaker – Gold Award
  • World Beer Awards 2019 – Black Sheep Ale – Silver Award
  • World Beer Awards 2019 – Guzzler– Bronze Award
  • World Beer Awards 2019 – Pineapple Milkshake IPA- Bronze Award

Based in Masham, in the heart of North Yorkshire, Black Sheep brewed its first beer in 1992 after being built up by Paul Theakston, whose family had brewed in the area for six generations.

In a world of ever-increasing bland, mass-produced beer, Paul saw an opportunity to return to what his family had done best since 1827, making real beer in the time-honoured fashion.

An old maltings building, once part of Lightfoot’s Brewery, became the Brewery’s home. This landmark building, which stands high over the banks of the Ure, had fallen into disrepair as years of neglect as a semi-redundant grainstore had taken its toll. Paul assembled a small team around him to fight the rats and build a traditional country brewery.

The Visitor Centre, at the site of the iconic brewery, has grown to become an award-winning attraction for visitors to Yorkshire, with tens of thousands of people flocking to Masham each year. In 2018, the Visitor Centre had a thorough refurbishment and offers the general public a menu of locally sourced Yorkshire food, its range of award-winning beers and tours of their iconic brewery.

In 2018, Black Sheep announced the purchase of York Brewery, which included the acquisition of four pubs in the business and key cask brands, including Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.

The outlets bought by Black Sheep, as part of the deal, are as follows:

  • Last Drop Inn, York
  • Mr Foley’s Tap House, Leeds
  • The Three Legged Mare, York
  • Tap and Kitchen, Leeds

The addition of York Brewery complements the strong, iconic Black Sheep brand and its existing award-winning beers and brands.

In 2018, Black Sheep also purchased the Chapel Allerton based bar, ‘Kith and Kin’ which they have since refurbished and renamed the ‘Black Sheep Tap & Kitchen’, which was officially launched on 28th February 2019.

The Black Sheep name derived from Masham’s association with sheep, but ‘Sheep Brewery’ didn’t quite sound right, so with a little creativity from Paul’s wife, the Black Sheep Brewery was born – a name that sat well with the area, spoke volumes about the business’ maverick attitude to the multi-nationals seeking to dominate the brewing industry and captured the essence of the family struggle that led to its birth.

Black Sheep’s beers are full of character derived from the best possible brewing materials, plenty of time and patience in the brewing and its very special Yorkshire Square fermenters.

Black Sheep Best Bitter is now one of the best-selling cask session beers in the UK and many of its creative brews, over the course of its 25-year history, have collected numerous awards – ranging from Black Sheep’s traditional ales to its up and coming craft beers.

2017 marked the launch of Black Sheep Brewery’s first lager, 54 Degrees North, created in homage to its hometown of Masham, which sits on 54’ 13’ 24” N; 1’ 39’ 20” W longitude and latitude lines, as the company embarks on an adventurous new chapter in its distinguished history.

In 2019, the brewery diversified their offering and entered the world of spirits by producing their own Black Sheep Yorkshire Dry Gin. The gin is distilled in Masham and within the production it features classic brewing ingredients including malted barley and Lemondrop hops.


Instagram: @blacksheepbrewery

Twitter: @BlackSheepBeer

Press release from Recognition PR on behalf of Black Sheep Brewery

For further information contact Jamie Collis on or 01325 363436