In the year 1850 Dr. William Okell, a surgeon from Cheshire, opened the first Okell’s Brewery at a place called Castle Hill in the town of Douglas in the Isle of Man. During the next few years Dr. Okell bought many of the Public Houses around the Island. During Victorian Times many Public Houses would have been brewing their own beer and soon the capacity of Dr. Okell's first Brewery was insufficient to supply all his outlets and he set about building a new brewery. This was built in 1874 at a place called Glen Falcon, which in those days was a green field site on the edge of Douglas. This was to be a model brewery.
Dr. Okell was a scientific gentleman and was very advanced for his times. He actually wrote a book on the brewing process and the ideal equipment to use. The Brewery is still in possession of this hand written book. The new brewery was built to the specifications he laid down in his book. He called the Brewery, The Falcon Steam Brewery. The use of the term steam referred to the fact that he used steam to boil the brewery coppers instead of the usual means of a direct coal fire. The use of steam meant that there was less charring and caramelisation of the sugars during the boiling process. This in turn led to a cleaner tasting beer with no burnt flavours appearing in the final beer. This brewery continued in production until 1994 when the last brew was mashed on the 18th. of August of that year.
During 1994 a brand new brewery was designed and built at Kewaigue on the outskirts of Douglas. The Brewery was designed from the start to be a dual Ale/Lager brewery but the building of the Ale Facility was commenced first. The brewery went into full Ale production in August 94 and the lager brewing facility was then started. Lager brewing commenced in September 95. The Brewery was officially opened on the 12th Jan 96 by the then Chief Minister Sir Miles Walker. The capacity of the Brewery is 10,000 Brls. of Ale and 10,000 Brls of Lager. For its size the Brewery is highly automated with most of the brewing process controlled by PLC's and computers.
The majority of the Ale production is cask conditioned. The Brewhouse consists of a Mash Conversion Vessel, Lauter Tun, Copper and Whirlpool. The brewlength is 60 Brls. The Copper is of unusual design as it has a Vapour Condenser to stop the escape of steam and any aromas to the outside of the brewery. It is also heated by an external heater, which is not uncommon in itself, however this one is a wide gap plate and frame heat exchanger which is very rare. The fermentation facility for Ales consists of four 60 Brl. fermenters and one 30 Brl. The lager facility consists of three 120 Brl. conical fermenters and six 120 Brl. Maturation Vessels, there are also two 120 Brl. Bright tanks to feed the kegging plant.
There is also a very well equipped Laboratory to back up the Quality Control and Production functions. The core production consists of Okells Bitter, Okells Mild, Maclir and Dr. Okells IPA. In 1996 Okells Bitter won a bronze medal at the International Brewing Awards, which take place every two years in Burton on Trent and attracts entries from all over the world. The competition is judged by professional brewers who are chosen from breweries across the globe. In 2000 Okells Bottled Olde Skipper was a finalist in the Tesco Challenge.
In 2008 Okells won the Sainsbury's Beer Competition with the IPA. Aile has been a consistent medal winner and in 2010 was judged best European Flavoured Porter.
Past and Present