“Once in a life time” trip for brewers.

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A MASHAM brewer has accompanied some of his own beer on a historic sea voyage.

Phil Douglas, head brewer at the Black Sheep Brewery, was joined by the firm’s telesales supervisor Jane Evans on the trip to the Balkans.

The pair sailed from Stockholm to Helsinki as part of an expedition by 12 different British breweries to reintroduce their own versions of Russian Imperial Stout to the Baltic states.

Phil said it was his first attempt at sailing, while Jane said she had only ever been on canal boats, before setting out on the five-day journey.

They were accompanied by a skipper and crew member, along with three other brewers, on the 60ft former Round the World clipper.

Phil described it as an exhausting but very worthwhile experience.

“We did a couple of overnight sails, when we were on watch for four hours at a time, which were pretty tiring.

“It was cold at night, but the weather was glorious and the sea was relatively still so luckily I only had one morning of seasickness.”

After leaving Stockholm on Saturday, June 4 the boat stopped at isolated islands in the Baltic Sea including the Aland Islands, an archipelago between Sweden and Finland.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience,” Phil said, “You might get to Helsinki sometime in your life, and you might get to St Petersburg, but you’ll never get to somewhere like the Aland Islands.

“I’m very pleased I did it and it was great to see places I will never see again.”

Phil and Jane joined the trip between Stockholm and Helsinki but the full trip taken by the Clipper recreated a historic trade route from Greenwich to St Petersburg.

They arrived in the Russian port on Saturday, June 18.

The trip was partly a trade mission, and partly an attempt to raise the profile of British beers in the Baltic states, which were once lucrative markets for exported Russian Imperial Stout.

Black Sheep sponsored a beer festival in Helsinki in the days before they set sail, and they arrived in time for another Helsinki beer festival where Phil said, traditional British beers and ales are very popular.

Each of the 12 ales were taste tested before being loaded onto the boat in Greenwich and after another taste test in St Petersburg the winning beer was kept under wraps until an announcement in September.