Samuel Smith Brewery

Samuel Smith
Industry Brewing
Founded 1758
Founder Samuel Smith
Headquarters Tadcaster, England
Products Beer
Owner Humphrey Smith, Oliver Smith

Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, popularly known as Samuel Smith's or Sam Smith's, is an independent British brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England. It is Yorkshire's oldest brewery, founded in 1758.[1]


The Old Brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, in the North of England, was established in 1758.[2] Samuel Smith, a successful butcher and cattle dealer from Meanwood, Leeds, funded his son John to buy it from the Hartley family in 1847. John Smith took over the brewery forming John Smith's Brewery, before moving his location next door. John Smith left the old building of John Smith's Brewery to his young nephew Samuel in 1886.

In 1886 Samuel Smith opened the brewery Samuel Smith's Brewery under his own name.

The Old Brewery

Samuel Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire

The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and bears the name of local brewer Samuel Smith.[2] It is both the oldest brewery in Yorkshire and the only surviving independent brewery in Tadcaster.

The smallest of the three modern-day Tadcaster breweries, Sam Smith's is one of the few remaining British breweries to employ the traditional Yorkshire Square system in the production of its beers.[3]

Brewing water for ales and stouts is still drawn from the original 85 ft (26 m) well, sunk when the site was established in 1758, and the yeast used in the fermentation process is of a strain that has been used continuously since approximately 1900 - one of the oldest unchanged strains in the country.[3]

In keeping with this sense of history and tradition, the brewery keeps a small team of dapple-grey shire horses. Rather than being show horses, they are among the last active dray horses in the world. They deliver beer around the town of Tadcaster five days a week.[4]

The brewery site has expanded over the years and is divided by Centre Lane. New Street separates it from the adjacent John Smith's Brewery.


Assorted keg beer taps (Dark Mild, Taddy Lager, Pure Brew Organic Lager)
Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Bitter pumps
A bottle of Imperial Stout, a vegetarian beer

Since discontinuing Museum Ale in the early 1990s, Sam Smith's have brewed only one cask beer, Old Brewery Bitter (OBB). This is unique in the British brewing industry, as most brewers will either produce a range of real ales or none at all.

They also produce a range of brewery-conditioned beers. All their beers, with the exception of the Old Brewery Bitter and Yorkshire Stingo, are vegan.[5] In addition, most of Samuel Smith's beers — some notable exceptions being the Oatmeal Stout, Wheat Beer and Organic Cherry Fruit Beer — are brewed solely with malt, hops, yeast and water.

In the United States, Samuel Smith's bottled beers are imported by Merchant du Vin. In Norway, the beers are imported by Strag AS.[6] The beers are also sold in certain places in Northern Ireland.

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider is available in bottles, while Cider Reserve is sold on draught solely in the UK. The brewery offers two draught milds, Dark Mild and Light Mild. Most pubs will only offer one variant. The brewery used to produce a super strength Barley Wine called Strong Golden at 10.2%. A range of bottled fruit beers are available, flavoured with cherry, apricot or raspberry.

In recent years, the brewery have altered their product line-up, dispensing with Tadcaster Bitter but introducing Best Bitter. Best Bitter and Sovereign are the brewery's only keg bitters. They introduced Double Four in late 2013, a 4% strength lager aimed at providing a standard strength lager to bridge the gap between Alpine (2.8%) and Taddy Lager (4.5%). A wheat beer has been added to the draught product range, although few pubs stock it.

Until 2006 Samuel Smith's used the brand name Ayingerbräu for its lagers and wheat beers, using the name and logo of German brewery, Brauerei Aying. The brand was best known for its 'man-in-a-box' pump for Ayingerbräu Lager, which featured a model Bavarian man inside a plastic box.

Ayingerbräu Lager gained a cult following in some parts of the UK and a beer drinking challenge is held annually. In 2006 Ayingerbräu Lager reverted to Alpine Lager, its original name in the 1960s. In late 2005 production of both the Ayingerbräu D Pils and Prinz Lager brands ceased. These have been replaced by Samuel Smith's Pure Brewed Lager. Later on the brewery swapped the strength of their brand names, with Alpine lager becoming 2.8% and Taddy becoming 4.5%.

Pure Brew Lager and previously Ayingerbräu are served from a tall cylindric shaped pump which stands out from all the other keg product lines which are served from the standard small box shaped pump. Despite the cylindric pump being taller, the tap is still at bar level (modern taps are usually at eye level).


The brewery operates over 200 pubs,[7][8] which are notable for their independence: The beers are all produced by the Tadcaster brewery and no large-corporation spirits or soft-drinks are available. Prices are kept reasonable by only increasing in line with alcohol duty and inflation increases. In 2000, Samuel Smith's began phasing out the branding from their pubs,[9] and in November 2004, the company took the decision to ban music in its pubs, to save paying Performing Rights levy.

Samuel Smith's pubs are found in a variety of locations, including rural, suburban, inner-city and city-centre ones. There are over 20 pubs in central London.[10] Irrespective of the location, the pubs are maintained in a traditional manner. Most pubs incorporate multiple bars and rooms, often with a spartan public bar and a more plush lounge.

Samuel Smith's still delivers multiple-trip (re-usable) bottles in beer crates.

In 2007 the company began to sell frozen meals made by Sarah Brownridge in their pubs. Then, in 2008, all franchise pubs were switched to 'company catering'. The brewery now have centrally determined set menus from which the individual pub can select offerings to create its menu. All portion sizes and serving practice are set by the brewery.

Further to the company phasing out brands from their pubs, all pubs now sell Samuel Smith's branded crisps, made by [kolak]. Salted, Cheese and Onion, Salt and Vinegar and Roast Beef flavours are offered. Further to this, the company offers Salted, dry roasted or chilli peanuts, pork scratchings or cheese biscuits, again all sold under the Samuel Smith's Old Brewery brand name.

Samuel Smith's public houses are distinctive in their plain appearance with limited signage or artwork. Previously pubs could be noted by gold on black signage with the company logo, however the company have adopted a policy of not displaying the brewery name on their pubs.


The Junction Inn in Royton, the subject of closure controversy

The GMB trade union has criticized the company for its treatment of pub managers, resulting in a number of court cases. Humphrey Smith has also pursued a number of planning application objections at the cost of Selby district council.[11][12] In October 2010, it was reported that the brewery was taking legal action against Cropton Brewery over the use of the Yorkshire white rose design.[13]

On New Year's Eve 2011, Humphrey Smith closed the Junction Inn in Royton because the landlords were dispensing too much beer in their pints and subsequently issued a retrospective surcharge of £10,733 for lost stock over a 12-year period.[14]

In January 2016, Samuel Smith's Old Brewery opposed the construction of a temporary bridge over the River Wharfe, which would allow residents to cross the town, which was divided following the collapse of the 300-year-old bridge, claiming that, at a cost of £300,000, it was "a waste of public money".[15]


  1. Protz, R: The Ale Trail, page 135. Eric Dobby Publishing, 1995.
  2. 1 2 Oliver, Garrett. 'The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food.' New York: HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-000571-9. Retrieved 10 December 2011. p. 119
  3. 1 2 "Gazetteer of operating pre-1940 breweries in England" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  4. "Home". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  5. "VEGAN BEER & CIDER". Lists of certified vegan beers including Imperial Stout: Samuel Smith Brewery. Retrieved 12 February 2013. Samuel Smith’s was the first brewery to register with The Vegan Society - we did so in January 1998.
  6. "Strag AS". Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  7. Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster)
  8. "300th Samuel Smith pub identified". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  9. "Brewery drops brand logo (From York Press)". 4 October 2000. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  11. "GMB Pub Division". Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  12. "A brief view of the power of Samuel Smiths Old Brewey - Tadcaster". YouTube. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  13. "Samuel Smith launch legal action over Cropton Brewery's white rose beer branding". York Press. 5 October 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  14. Tara Brady (30 January 2012). "Landlord threatened with sack for serving too full pints to regulars". Mail Online. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  15. "Landowner 'blocks' temporary Tadcaster bridge plan". BBC News online. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.


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