Theakstons have employed coopers since the founding of the company in 1827. Even today, some Theakston beers are sold in hand-made wooden casks made by the current cooper, Jonathan Manby.
Theakstons are very proud of their coopering tradition. Our latest Cooper, Jonathan, came to the brewery as an apprentice craft cooper at the age of 17 to work for the then Master Cooper, Clive Hollis. After his careful and thorough apprenticeship which lasted four years, he became a fully qualified cooper. This was marked by the ‘Trussing In’ Ceremony a very ancient, time honoured ritual that sees the apprentice ‘sacked’ before asking to be re-employed, (not always granted!) as a ‘Journeyman Cooper’; an experience that coopers are grateful to suffer only once in their lifetime! Jonathan is the last apprenticed craft cooper in England.
Apart from making and repairing commercial sized casks for our pub customers, Jonathan also makes a limited number of 'Pins' which are 4.5 gallon casks at Christmas time for the many member of the public who enjoy their own cask of Old Peculier to celebrate the festive season.
||Cask size (Gallons)
The History of coopering
For many hundreds of years before metal casks were invented, wooden casks were the only means by which not just liquids but also foodstuffs were transported, not least within the brewing industry. But such has been the success of the introduction of the metal version that very few brewers today still retain a cooper. The reason for this is that to make an oak cask of precise content from non-standard widths of oak is a true craft which cannot be replicated by machine. The manufacture of metal casks contrastingly is an automated process.