A MASHAM brewery has created a special ale to mark its 175th anniversary.

Peculier Peculier, described as a strong, smooth, tawny-coloured bitter, has been pulled for the first time through the hand pumps at the Theakston brewery visitor centre.

To celebrate the anniversary the visitor centre and brewery have extended their 2002 seasonal opening to include every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday in November to give people the chance to try the new ale, which is 5.6pc alcohol by volume.

Peculier Peculier will be featured in the John Smith's guest ale programme in Yorkshire pubs from this month.

The story of the brewery began in 1827 when Robert Theakston, the son of a local farmer, decided not to follow in his father's footstps but to lease the Black Bull inn and brewhouse at Masham.

In 1875 Robert's son, Thomas, built a new brewery which is still operated and visited today.

Until 1941 the brewery's home pub was the old White Bear, but it was destroyed when a stray German pilot dropped a bomb on it. The licence was transferred to some nearby cottages and the new White Bear was born.

In 1990 Matthew Brown bought the Theakston business and a few years later Scottish and Newcastle Breweries bought Matthew Brown. Today Theakston is a member of the Scottish Courage family.

Much of the original Theakston equipment is still in use and, with a trained guide, visitors can follow the entire brewing process, from choosing ingredients to filling casks. One of only seven brewery coopers in Britain makes the wooden casks used for delivering beer to local pubs.