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2nd April 2014

Leading brewer immortalises famous fool of Muncaster

ONE of history’s most famous fools is set to be immortalised in a special craft beer from an innovative Cumbrian brewer.

Tom Fool® (real name Thomas Skelton) – who is said to have been the inspiration for the fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear – was the real life jester at Cumbria’s Muncaster Castle sometime around 1600. Stories abound of his spirit haunting the castle to this day.

He is celebrated each year during the Muncaster Festival when the castle holds the International Jester Tournament to find the new Fool of Muncaster.

On April 1st, (known as Tom Fool’s Day at Muncaster) craft brewer Hardknott, which is based in Millom, is releasing its beer Tom Fool® – a fitting tribute to the long dead jester.

A crate of the beer will be part of the prize given to the winner of the International Jester Tournament.

Dave Bailey, who runs the brewery with his partner Ann Wedgwood, said: “At Hardknott we like being innovative, cocking a snook at the established and the humdrum, being a little bit anarchic and having a sense of humour.

“For all these reasons maybe we are the perfect people to channel the spirit of Tom Fool® into beer. If the stories are to be believed his ghost is still causing mischief in Muncaster Castle and, wherever he is, I hope he approves.

“It’s great to work with Muncaster Castle and be associated with an event and an attraction that brings so many visitors to our lovely region of Cumbria. We love living and working here and are keen to add to the enjoyment of visitors and locals in any way we can.

“Tom Fool® the beer is just as interesting and intriguing as its namesake with lots of lemon and blackcurrant flavours. Even if Tom Fool® can’t get his ghoulish, foolish lips around it himself I am sure there will be plenty of people willing to enjoy a few bottles on his behalf.”

The beer will be on sale at the castle during the Muncaster Festival which runs from May 25-29. It will also be sold at local pubs and restaurants including the Pennington, the Boot Inn and the Pooley Bridge Inn. 

Peter Frost-Pennington from Muncaster Castle said:  “We are delighted that Tom Fool® has been commemorated with his own beer from Hardknott Brewery. I’m sure Tom would have heartily approved. 

“Each year, the winner of our International Jester Tournament is given the prize of a crate of ale, and it is fantastic that we will now be able to give Tom’s successors a beer named after the man himself.  

“Hardknott produce a great range of beers and we think Tom Fool® will be very popular with the public  too. “

For more information about Hardknott Brewery go

For more information about Muncaster Castle and the Festival of Fools go to