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Black Sheep: Brewing with power


21 February 2011

The Black Sheep Brewery, a North Yorkshire establishment with a fascinating history, turned to Boge for a Boge SD 40 screw compressor to power its cask filling process

The Black Sheep Brewery, which will be 19-years-old this year, came into being in October 1992. The delivery of its first casks of beer all those years ago began a new era for Paul Theakston, whose family has brewed in Masham for six generations.

The old era hadn't been a happy time for Paul's family as an acromonious battle resulted in the 'old' family firm of T&R Theakston ending up at the time as part of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries.

According to the Black Sheep website, the events that led to the loss of independence of the Theakston brewery had rumbled on since the early '70s, with Scottish & Newcastle finally seizing power in 1987.

Determined to stay in Masham and convinced his future was in a small brewery, he decided to build a new but traditional style brewery. The result was the Black Sheep. The way Paul went about establishing this new brewery says much for his sense of enterprise.

''It would've been much easier to acquire a new factory unit, install some shiny, stainless-steel brewing plant and produce perfectly acceptable beer but that was a million miles away from what I had in mind. Great beer is not just the product of the ingredients and the recipe but also of the plant that brews it.''

Paul saw an opportunity to return to what his family had done best since 1827, making real beer in time-honoured fashion. He bought an old maltings building standing over the banks of the Ure River. This building was once part of Lightfoot's Brewery (Masham's “other” brewery purchased for Theakston's by Paul's grandfather in 1919).

Today, that building is a traditional style brewery, just as Paul had intended.

Four years ago, The Black Sheep Brewery was already using a Boge SD 15 screw compressor for all its machine and valve actuation when it started looking at expanding its cask line. Delighted with the efficiency and reliability of the Boge compressor, Alan Dunn, head brewer at Black Sheep Brewery, specified it wanted a Boge compressor for the new cask line.

Boge recommended installing an SD 40 screw compressor with a built-in refrigerant dryer to meet the air requirements of the new cask line.

The SD series from Boge offers the user a compact compressed air station. An integral refrigerant dryer ensures a small footprint keeping the space requirement to a minimum and ensures that there are no additional assembly or installation costs required for a stand alone dryer whilst a compact design ensures easy access from one point for future maintenance work.

The SD series forms part of the Boge S series screw compressor product range. The S series clean modern lines and simple uncluttered layout set a standard some years ago that has since been imitated but not surpassed.

A Boge SD 40 was subsequently installed. Alan Dunn said: “We rely on the efficiency of our cask line in getting more than 80,000 pints of Black Sheep ales and bitters out the door everyday. The Boge SD 40 has proven to be reliable and efficient.

“As the casks are filled a dedicated supply of sterile compressed air compresses the build up of foam. This speeds up the filling process and facilitates the prompt turnaround of casks.”

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