The Flying Duck, Ilkley
Posted by leighgoodstuff
I’ve always felt that Ilkley needs more pubs. Seriously; considering the amount of tourists and weekenders that the spa town attracts, there seems to be more cafes than pubs – which is probably a nod to the elderly population of the place. It doesn’t really stand up to the pub-life of nearby Skipton or Otley, but perhaps that’s about to change. Last week, after an extended and extensive refurbishment, The Flying Duck took off – and is already proving to be a popular addition to the neighborhood.
The Flying Duck, as has been told, is the new project from Stewart Ross, who finds himself not only brewing house beers under the Wharfedale Brewery banner for the pub, but wearing the GM’s hat, too. Having visited the pub during the refurbishment, I can attest to the transformation that’s taken place within a building that had no shortage of age-related obstacles to overcome. Previously – as the Albert – it was dark, slightly unwelcoming and in need of attention. Now, the sandstone and scrubbed floors radiate light and warmth, and those dark, gummy beams have been blasted to uncover the scratches, marks and notches that over 100 years of living under them have collated.
Pass the wood-crackling stove and through the bar area, upstairs and through the back and you’ll see the brewery; housed in a gleaming glass and stone outhouse replete with viewing windows. Courtesy of Oban Ales, the small plant will pump out Wharfedale Blonde, Black and Best, as well as any seasonals that Stewart can conjure up. Sadly, the one thing I can’t do is tell you how the Blonde – currently brewed offsite by Stewart and Malcolm Bastow at Five Towns Brewery – tastes; it was completely sold out.
Not that I was struggling to find a beer – far from it. Saltaire, Dark Horse, Hambleton, Mallinsons, Naylor’s and Goose Eye provided the ales, and the lager’s local too – Copper Dragon’s Radka and a house lager brewed by Tirril Brewery for the pub provided interest on that front. Wines, bottles (US, English and Belgian classics) and warm drinks are all catered for.
It’s all in excellent condition; the Mallinson’s Stadium Bitter in particular being one of the cleanest, well-balanced pints of beer I’ve enjoyed in a while. A little look in the cellar at what’s to come follows the theme – local beers that will appeal to a wide audience with the odd little treat in there for those who like things a little stronger.
As I said earlier, The Flying Duck seems like the sort of pub Ilkley’s been crying out for, and given the success of the opening weekend, I suspect the locals have felt that way too. It’s dog friendly, but there’s no food being offered at present.
I don’t generally do pub reviews, but, like late-coming buses, this is the second of three that’ll be posted this month. If you’re currently reading The Inn at The Top (which I can heartily recommend), then author Neil Hanson will be holding a talk at the Duck on the 28th of November. Contact the pub for further info.