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Old Tom

The History Of Old Tom

Old Tom has been on the prowl at Robinsons Unicorn brewery for more than 100 years and having used up none of his nine lives, there's plenty of energy in the old cat just yet! Pounce on that mouse and come explore the world of Old Tom and his world famous ale.

Since 1899

THE CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG

Take a trip through the drinking glass to Robinsons’ wonderland of brewing history. Old Tom is the ultimate Cheshire Cat. The legend was born in 1899, when the old brewery cat, Tom, basked in the sunshine, whilst the head brewer sketched him into immortality.

BEGINNINGS

When William Robinson bought the Unicorn Inn on 29 September 1838 he was establishing a company which was to become one of Britain's largest regional brewers. Now run by the sixth generation of the family, the company continues to develop whilst still using traditional brewing methods.

THE FUTURE

With an estate of over 300 pubs, stretching from northern Cumbria down to North Wales and Staffordshire, together with the expansion of wholesale, free trade, off trade activity and a state-of-the-art bottling facility, Robinsons is well placed to continue its success story.

1827 – 1838

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

William Robinson became landlord of the Unicorn Inn and went on to own the pub. The Unicorn Inn at the heart of Stockport evolved to become Unicorn Brewery, which was built upon the foundations of this first pub. Soon after 1859 Frederic Robinson took over the inn and began to expand the brewing business which eventually became Robinsons Limited.

1876

ROBINSONS BUYS FIRST PUB

The first pub of what grew to become an estate of over 300 pubs across Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Wales and Cumbria, was originally called The Railway (as it was close to the village station) and located in Marple Bridge. It has since been rebuilt and renamed the Royal Scot, though it's fair to say this pub still has pride of place in the Robinsons estate.

1899

OLD TOM FIRST BREWED

Still brewed using the original recipe - the head brewer's recipe book is a much referenced family treasure.

ALFRED MULTON'S NOTEBOOK

A sample from a notebook page showing details of an Old Tom brew, made on Wednesday the 1st November 1899.

FIRST SKETCH

Named after the old brewery cat, this sketch, by the head brewer, captured Old Tom as he basked in the sunshine.

FAMOUS CATS

PUSS IN BOOTS

It's a 'rags to riches' tale of a cat whose riches are gained through the trickery of an expert 'con man' - The Puss of the title. The hero of the story receives all his wealth and his Princess bride as a result of a 'Cat Scam'!

CHESHIRE CAT

A fictional cat popularised by Lewis Carroll's depiction of it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Known for his distinctive mischievous grin, the Cheshire Cat has had a notable impact on popular culture.

1920

NEW BREW HOUSE

The new coppers to boil the wort and hops arrived in the brewery to work hard for over 90 years, before being replaced, ready for the new brew house launch in 2012.

1929

ACQUIRING SCHOFIELD BREWERY

Robinsons looked to expand and adapt to changes in the market making Schofield’s Brewery their second major brewery acquisition. William bought Schofield’s in 1926, a purchase that included 42 houses – a very useful addition to the growing Robinsons estate. The wine and spirit business that was already incorporated into Schofield’s was a welcome new venture. Brands such as Carmen Sherry and Don Manuel Port continue to this day.


 1949

ACQUIRING BELL’S BREWERY

The position of Robinsons as the major brewer in North Cheshire is confirmed by the purchase of Bell’s in 1949.

THE LEYLAND FLEET

The proud Leyland Fleet, pictured at the Unicorn Brewery in 1920.


FAMOUS CATS

TOM KITTEN

The Tale of Tom Kitten is a children's book, written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter.

FELIX THE CAT

Felix the Cat is a cartoon character created in the silent film era. His black body, white eyes, and giant grin, coupled with the surrealism of the situations in which his cartoons place him, combine to make Felix one of the most recognised cats of all.

THOMAS’ TOM CAT

Thomas 'Tom' Cat is a fictional character and one half of the Academy Award-winning Tom and Jerry cartoon cat-and-mouse duo.

1976

UNICORN PACKAGING CENTRE

The Unicorn Packaging Centre opens with a bottling capability of around 300 bottles per minute, 18,000 per hour, 850,000 per day, or 1.1 million per week. The opening of UPC allows Robinsons to start sharing Old Tom with the rest of the world.

1982

ACQUIRING HARTLEY’S BREWERY

Frederic Robinson Limited purchases Hartley’s on July 26th, 1982. This adds 56 houses to the existing Robinsons estate of 300 pubs and off-licences in North West England and North Wales. The Hartley’s estate, with its many country pubs, fits in well with the Robinsons estate, and the two breweries have similar draught beer traditions. The Old Brewery continues to brew ‘Beers from the Wood’ as well as new ale Fellrunners, which was introduced in 1988.

 

2012

NEW BREW HOUSE

The new brew house features one of the largest hopniks in the world. This enables Robinsons to brew craft beers which maximise beer character using special aroma varieties of natural leaf hops.

ROBINSONS VISITOR CENTRE

2013 – Our Visit England accredited Visitor Centre opens its doors and reveals the secrets behind our award-winning brewing process. It also gives you insights into original and new equipment. Submerge yourself in almost 180 years of brewing excellence and discover the heritage of this proudly independent family brewery.

FAMOUS CATS

BAGPUSS

Bagpuss was a popular UK children's television series. The title character is 'an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams'.

GARFIELD

Garfield is a comic strip created by Jim Davis that chronicles the life of the title character, the cat Garfield. As of 2007, it was syndicated in roughly 2,580 newspapers, and held the Guinness World Record for being the world's most widely syndicated comic strip.

Old Tom's fine ale really is the cat's pyjamas and it's not just eight out of ten cats who agree. Old Tom has proven to be the top cat around the world, winning prestigious awards and gaining international recognition.

IT’S THE CAT’S PYJAMAS!

OLD TOM CROWNED WORLDS BEST ALE

The World Beer Awards are the global awards selecting the very best internationally recognised beer styles. Organised by www.tastingbeers.com, this annual tasting selects, awards and promotes the 'Best Beers in the World' to consumers throughout the world.

  • BEST STRONG ALE
  • BEST STRONG DARK ALE
  • BEST BARLEY WINE

OLD TOM CROWNED WORLDS BEST ALE

In 2009 Robinsons Old Tom picked up the ultimate accolade when it was named the World's Best Ale, described as "dangerously drinkable" and a "Mozartian symphony" of beer by the judging panel.

  • WORLDS BEST ALE
  • BEST DARK ALE
  • BEST STRONG DARK ALE

OLD TOM VOTED BEST CHAMPION WINTER BEER OF BRITAIN

The Champion Winter Beer of Britain (also known as WiBOB) is an award presented by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), at their annual National Winter Ales Festival in January.

  • BEST IN 90, 94, 97, 00, 02, 03
  • OVERALL CHAMPION 2001

OLD TOM DECLARED THE BREWING INDUSTRY AWARDS

The Brewing Industry International Awards are often dubbed 'the Oscars of the brewing industry' - and with good reason. This Award is a recognition by fellow professional brewers that a beer is an outstanding commercial example of its style. First run in 1886, the Awards constantly develop to reflect the global market for beer.

  • WINNER 85, 03, 05

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