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IF Christmas Eve has crept up unnoticed and you’ve still to decide on your beer of choice of the festivities, you could do a good deal worse than plump for this strong dark beer from Masham.

The time was when the Black Sheep Brewery was in the vanguard of the new flourishing of brewing in Yorkshire, as one branch of the Theakston family kicked back against the tide of big business takeovers which had seen its famous name subsumed into the monolithic Scottish and Newcastle empire.

How times have changed. For while Theakston’s has now rejoined Black Sheep in family ownership, both are now relative giants compared to the plethora of wonderful new breweries which have

While ordering a pint of Black Sheep might once have seemed to strike a blow against “the man”, it now seems a rather establishment choice.

Even so, deep red-brown Riggwelter remains a worthy purchase, with an enticing malty aroma and enough chocolatey, smokey, dark and smokey substance to convince you of its 5.7% strength. And at three for a fiver in the Co-Op, you really can’t go far wrong.

75 Brudenell Grove, Leeds

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