Meet the Brewer: Ilkley Brewery | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Meet the Brewer: Ilkley Brewery

A couple of weeks ago, we headed down to the Sheffield Tap for their Meet the Brewer event with Ilkley Brewery. We're both big fans of Ilkley beers so it was great to have the chance to sample ales from across their range, as well as being able to chat to the team about their work.

The night began with Ilkley Gold, one of the regularly brewed core range beers with a strength of 3.9%. This beer is designed to be an easy drinker, with a great subtlety coming from the US and Slovenian hops. Like all their ingredients, specialist hops are something that Ilkely strive to source from the best producers and suppliers.

Lotus IPA had a little step up in alcohol content at 5.6%. Lotus is a similar colour to the previous beer but by no means the same. The summit hops sing through in the distinctive way that comes with an IPA. Produced in a traditional way, the beer is not dry hopped which produces a more rounded beer. Ilkley produce their beers in a variation of styles across their 50,000 pints a week. With the craft beer movement gathering speed and introducing all sorts of wacky brewing methods to the UK, it's great to see a brewery doing such innovative things using traditional techniques.

The third beer of the evening, Siberia, was a rhubarb saison, named after the location of the fruit's original place of cultivation. A nice little fact that we discovered at the event is that all the rhubarb is chopped by hand, in the various kitchens of the brewery's employees... just showing the level of care and personality that goes into Ilkley's beers and also why it isn't brewed as often as you might wish.

De Passie was sampled next - a White IPA flavoured with passionfruit, which is a collaborative brew with Dutch breweries Rooie Dop and Oersoep. A stunning beer that really delivers on its fruity promise, made with 3 different hops that are added to bring out the best flavour of the passion fruit juice. A real hit on the night and a perfect drink for a balmy summer's evening.

We then moved on to the wildcard beer: Derby Day - a 7% mint stout. Other stouts using mint that we've tried before have tended to couple the flavour with chocolate, producing a sweet and sticky beer that seems to provoke a strong reaction in the drinker. The Ilkley take on a mint beer by contrast is much more savoury and arguably more palatable to the masses despite the high ABV.

The final beer of the night just so happened to be possibly our all-time favourite beer and an absolutely mighty drink - The Mayan. This is a chilli chocolate stout that doesn't aim to punch too high with either flavour, although both are very much apparent. The result is a balanced beer tingles subtly on the tongue with a flavour that lingers for around 15 seconds... just divine.

From being able to see first hand the passion and attention to detail that goes into the Ilkley range, it's clear to see where their almost exponential growth has come from. With exciting times and further expansion to come (plans are in the pipeline for a bigger brewery and a visitor's centre), we can't wait to see what they'll think up next.



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