Wharfedale Observer: Managing director of Ilkley Brewery Chris Ives adding hops to a brew Managing director of Ilkley Brewery Chris Ives adding hops to a brew

As preparations get under way for Ilkley’s annual celebration of craft beer, Ilkley Brewery is giving one lucky reader the chance to brew their very own signature beer that will be served at the Ilkley Beer Festival, which takes place on February 7 and 8.

The prize also includes two tickets to the sponsors session of the festival, on Friday February 7 from 12.30pm to 4pm and includes free beer and food. The winner will also receive a Ilkley Brewery gift pack.

Working with Ilkley Brewery’s head brewer, Chris Ives, and the brewery’s newest brewster, Christa Sandquist, the winner will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes to learn about different hop and grain flavours which will help form the basis of their new brew. The winner will then get hands on with mashing, boiling and fermenting their brew ready for the festival where they will pull the first pint at the Ilkley Brewery bar.

Completing the beer making process, the winner will also work with the brewery’s creative team to decide on a name for their hand-crafted ale.

Open to first-time and home brewers alike, the closing date of the competition is Monday, January 6, and the winner will be announced in this newspaper on Thursday, January 9. Note: the winner must be available to visit the brewery during week commencing Monday, January 20.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question: When was the Ilkley Brewery and Aerated Water Company originally founded (clue: you might be able to find the answer on the Ilkley Brewery website -

a) 1873

b) 1573

c) 1623

Send your answer to Ilkley Brewery competition, Wharfedale Newspapers, 8 Wells Road, Ilkley, LS29 9JD.

The Ilkley Brewery story

In the last four years, Ilkley Brewery has more than tripled its turnover, its production and its head count and is now in the strongest position yet to reinvest and expand.

From a non-brewing background, managing director, Chris Ives, re-established brewing in Ilkley in 2009. The original Ilkley Brewery and Aerated Water Company closed in 1920 after being established for nearly 50 years and, keen to bring the town’s brewing heritage back to life, Chris began to brew small runs of cask ale which were well received by local pubs. With acclaim for its beers building, Ilkley Brewery began to grow and moved to new premises on Ashlands Road, enabling it to acquire more equipment and employ more staff.

Since its launch four years ago, the brewery has gone from employing just one member of staff to 13 employees. Since its launch in 2009, production of its award-winning craft beers has increased by over 1,000 per cent: at the end of 2009, just 2,500 pints were brewed each week whereas now, in excess of 43,000 pints leave the brewery every week.

Ilkley Brewery’s beers are now distributed across the UK and it has listings in national supermarkets including Morrisons, Booths and Asda. Big name restaurants and retail outlets such as Harvey Nichols and Jamie Oliver’s barbecue restaurant, Barbecoa, also stock bottles of its ales.

In May this year, distribution went global as its first overseas order left for America. Fourteen thousand bottles of Mary Jane IPA, Lotus IPA and The Chief arrived in the States and were distributed throughout Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, New York and Washington states. The shipment marked the first in a series of monthly orders which will be USA-bound. The brewery has also established markets in Scandinavia, proving particularly popular in Sweden.

April 2012 saw the launch of the Origins range, showcasing the best in beer styles and brewing. Medina and Siberia were the first collaboration brews with renowned beer writers, and The Chief, Victorian Pale Dinner Ale, Wit Marie, Green Goddess, and Holy Cow have since followed to much critical acclaim.

Managing director Chris Ives said: “Above all, at Ilkley Brewery we are most passionate about the beers we make. All beers are handmade by a team who are committed to making the best product possible: one which is innovative, sometimes unexpected, but always big on flavour and enjoyment.”

Over the last four years, the brewery has developed a popular core range of beers which is complemented by seasonal, experimental and speciality ales. It has also collaborated with esteemed beer writers and sommeliers, such as Melissa Cole and Pete Brown, to create truly unique ales such as its highly acclaimed Rhubard Saison, Siberia. The company regularly wins regional, national and industry awards for its ‘deceptively different’ craft beers and continues to surprise and impress its loyal customers.

In January 2012, Ilkley Brewery was crowned one of Yorkshire’s most promising companies in the Government-backed Local Business Accelerators campaign, going onto win the national prize in August 2012 for being one of the country’s fastest growing and successful businesses.

Additional SIBA medals for Ilkley Black and Lotus IPA were awarded in October 2012 (Bronze and Silver respectively).

In June 2013 the brewery won the London Craft Beer Battle with its new creation MaryJane IPA.


The winner must be available to brew their beer on a week day (Monday to Friday) during week commencing January 20 at Ilkley Brewery, Ashlands Road, Ilkley, LS29 8JT

Entrants must be aged 18 or over. Proof of identity and age may be required

Employees of Newsquest (Bradford) and the Ilkley brewery are not eligible to enter

The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into

The winner will be the first entry drawn at random after the closing date

The prizes are as stated, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered.

The winner must agree to the use of their name and photograph and co-operate with any other reasonable requests by Ilkley Brewery and Wharfedale Newspapers relating to any post-winning publicity.

For full terms and conditions, visit


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