BEER connoisseurs streamed through the doors of the King’s Hall and Winter Gardens on Friday to mark the official start of the 12th annual Ilkley Beer Festival. Friday afternoon is exclusively for festival sponsors with public sessions commencing Friday evening. Nick Marsden, Sponsorship Officer for Ilkley Round Table said: “We are extremely delighted to welcome Murray Harcourt as our headline sponsor for the next three years. Murray Harcourt joins 57 silver sponsors who continue to support our sell out event year on year. All our sponsors play an important role in the delivery of this event.”

Over three days more than 20,000 pints of 130 different real ales, beers, ciders, as well as Prosecco and now gins, will be available. All profit from every pint sold will go towards the Ilkley and District Round Table charity fund which supports a wide range of local causes, from children’s sports teams to senior citizens groups, refurbishment of club premises to equipment purchases for those with learning and physical disabilities.

The Ilkley Beer Festival kicked off on Thursday evening with the inaugural ‘Thirsty Thursday Gin Shack’. Gin lovers were treated to over 30 unique gins, all from small distillers including some great local suppliers all served with premium tonic. The new gin bar will also be open during all public sessions of the beer festival over the weekend. The event continues on Saturday, February 9.

Nick Winterbottom, this year's beer festival organiser said: "We are delighted to launch the 12th beer festival and very pleased to see the addition of the gin shack to the successful range of drinks available."

Organised by Ilkley and District Round Table the beer festival runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 7th to 9th . Tickets for Saturday are sold out. Attracting hundreds of enthusiasts, the popular event aims to raise close to £50,000 every year for local good causes.

In the past year these funds have supported local organisations such as Menston Cricket Club, Ilkley Arts Federation, Burley Parish Centre, Burley in Wharfedale Cricket Club, Curley Hill Scout Centre, The Principle Trust Charity, LS29 Special Needs Support Group, Local Defibrillators, Ilkley Band Stand, Ilkley Insight, KIVCA and Keighley District Scout Council, making a real difference to the local community.