>Ilkley Brewery Launch
It’s hard to believe Ilkley’s Stewart Ross when he tells me it’s almost two years to the week that the idea of Ilkley Brewing Co. was formed to this day; when a spanking new 20 barrel brewery is formally opened.
That just goes to show the incredible leaps Ilkley have made since then. By brewing a strong core range of traditional, yet tasty beers supplemented by popular seasonals, Ilkley have somehow managed to become part of the Yorkshire beer scenery – but in a good way. The new brewery is pretty much like every new brewery around these days; functional and modern, clean and efficient; but based on the conversations I’ve had this morning it’s the vision of the brewers that maketh the beer. As we chewed the fat over a half of Ilkley Best, Black Summit, a Dark IPA in very much the modern style, sits glowering in the end fermenter.
The launch was a successful one; a few speeches by the Mayor and Chris Ives, and then onto the beer, conversation and awesome Pork Pies supplied by that Ilkley institution, Lishman’s Butchers (one was not enough, let me say…). You know, you can’t go much wrong with a pint of Best and a just-warm Pork Pie…
..Anyway, I digress. Looking across the bar, it’s easy to say Ilkley brew straight-ahead drinkers; be it the Cascade-laced, multi-award-winning Mary Jane, or the malt-driven but well-bittered Best. However, that’s to do the term a disservice; fact is, Ilkley’s beers are full of flavour and more often than not, hop-led (although not in the US style). Ilkley Pale is coming on strong; straw-hued, lemony on the nose and dry in the finish; . The sort of Blonde that makes one wish the onset of spring would hurry the hell up. Ilkley Black remains a Dark Mild in the truest sense; rich and moreish without being too heavy on the palate.
I’m sure Ilkley will expand further; their beers have already reached pretty much every part of the land – and given that my conversation with Stewart encompassed drinking in Cask, The Rake, the qualities of Nelson Sauvin and Kernel’s beers, I really don’t think that ‘levelling out’ is in Ilkley’s vocabulary. Regardless of whether you view Ilkley Brewery as a ‘traditional’ brewer or not, I can safely predict you’ll find at least one beer of theirs that you’ll like in 2011.
Ilkley will be holding various ‘Meet The Brewer’ events throughout April in Wetherspoons, Foley’s and Market Town Taverns. Do pop along. And it was also a pleasure to chat with Spike of The Narrow Boat, and The Ilkley Beer Fest chaps. Until next time…