York Brewery moving out of the city – for now, at least

Uncertain times for York Brewery. Photographs: Richard McDougall
11 Jun 2019 @ 6.23 pm
| Business

When it opened in 1996 it was the first brewery within the city walls for 40 years.

Now though York Brewery is moving out of the city.

It is to leave its Toft Green home of 23 years. Owners the Black Sheep Brewery is moving production to its Masham operation.

The hope is that the relocation will be temporary.

Black Sheep today reaffirmed its commitment to keeping York Brewery in the city – and the search for a new home is now underway.

They say they have already identified potential new locations.

A great shame

Moving out after 23 years on Toft Green
Black Sheep acquired York Brewery in December 2018 after its parent company Mitchells Of Lancaster (Brewers) Ltd was put into administration.

They also acquired three of York Brewery’s outlets – the Last Drop Inn, The Tap Room and The Three Legged Mare.

As part of that deal more than 40 jobs were transferred to the Masham company. A ‘handful’ of those jobs are now to go.

Chairman of The Black Sheep Brewery Andy Slee said the three pubs were working well. He added:

  • However, despite wanting to maintain brewing in the city of York and our best efforts, a lack of a timely agreement between the landlord of the building and Black Sheep will lead to a temporary relocation of equipment and people to our Masham site.

    This interim measure should not be for too long, we have several other locations in York under active consideration for York Brewery, and have appointed agents to deal with the matter.

    It is a great shame the landlord could not reach agreement in time. As new owners we want to maintain as much consistency to the business as possible.

    But the long-term future of the products and brands is safe.

Huge rent rise

Photograph: The Three Legged Mare on High Petergate
Sources told YorkMix that the landlord of the York Brewery’s Toft Green home was asking for a 50% rent rise – as well as a full-repair lease.

Major work was required to the fabric of the building, and Black Sheep took the view that they couldn’t stay under those terms.

It is the second York institution looking for a new home after having to leave Toft Green.

Music venue Fibbers is searching for a new location after its venue was sold to developers. The new owners plan to demolish the building and build a hotel on the site.

The York Brewery story

Card image cap

York Brewery opened in May 1996 – the first brewery within the city walls for 40 years.

It was the brainchild of Tony Thomson and Tony Smith. It went on win national awards for its beers.

Pubs followed, with The Last Drop Inn on Colliergate the first, followed by The Three Legged Mare and Rook & Gaskill on Lawrence Street.

Mitchell’s of Lancaster bought the brewery in December 2008, pledging to expand brewing capacity to 150 barrels a week, and open a further six to ten York Brewery pubs.