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Wharfedale launch “The Ales Way”

leafletWharfedale Brewery – the smart microbrewery sitting at the back of The Flying Duck, Ilkley – have continued their commitment to boost their local pub community by launching The Dales Way, a pub guide to pubs in the surrounding Wharfedale area. The guide has been produced with the Pride of The Dales bus service in mind – something that the team behind the brewery are keen on.

‘Whilst encouraging more people to visit the pubs and use the bus company with added frequency, the ale trail is intended to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace which should allow people plenty of time to visit the many wonderful  shops, café’s and restaurants as well.’ says Jonathan Shepherd, Wharfedale’s Managing director.

I know that, since setting up last year, one of the goals of Wharfedale Brewery has been to support the businesses around it, which isn’t something you hear much on today’s ‘mission statements.’ The iconic ‘Dales Pub’ – all stone flags, welcoming open fireplaces and impeccably-kept cask ale isn’t a myth either – but they are open all the time. They aren’t theme parks – and they need patronage all year round.

Looking down the list, I’m mentally ticking off the pubs which are personal favourites; The Red Lion at Burnsall, complete with the gentle curl of the Wharfe just outside the front door, a popular stop off for us when taking the dog out for the day. The Craven Arms at Appletreewick – where I recently enjoyed a pint of Dark Horse’s Hetton Pale that can only be described as transcendent. The Fountaine Inn at Linton, The Buck Inn at Buckden.  The Blue Bell Inn, Kettlewell. All perfect stop-offs this summer if you venture into the Dales.

You can also complete the ‘crawl’ in full, picking up stamps as you go to recieve a t-shirt at the end, if you wanted to tackle all of them. It’s a lovely idea; if you find your self enjoying a pint in the Flying Duck this summer, pick up a map and go see one of the others, too.


The Flying Duck, Ilkley

Flying Duck SmallI’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.

photoNot 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.

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