Anarchy in the UK – A whistle stop tour of the brewing scene in West Yorkshire

As I sit here on a temperamental Sunday evening before I go back to work after two superb weeks off, I’m recalling the highlights of my most recent trip back to Leeds where I spent 10 years as a kid, before moving back to Ireland. A big thanks to Sam Parker, who I met recently at EBBC 14 who organised us some behind the scenes access to Three great Yorkshire Breweries.

Given we were staying out in Yeadon, these places weren’t too far away. We had a very clear itinerary set out which was based on this. We were really looking forward to this. 

First up was Wharfedale Brewing, who’s 2 Barrel Kit is neatly tucked in at the back of their pub, The Flying Duck. A building in Ilkley on the main road through to the Lakes. 

Here we met Stuart who is head brewer and we had a great old chat with him. He is very proud of his pub and brewery, and so he should. The pub is a great pub, an Old building that has been lovingly restored to its former glories. Its a very inviting bar, and upstairs the smoking area / beer garden has a great view down into the brewhouse. There they make their core range of beers, the Blonde is so popular however they’ve had to have that made in a local brewery as it is very popular on the Wharfedale Ales Trail. However its not recommended to do all 14 stops in one day! 

Next stop on this #snobsontour was Ilkley Brewery, which was literally five minutes away from Wharfedale. Here we met with Luke Raven who was kind enough to give us some of his time, and some tasty samples! Ilkley have literally exploded and they are brewing shedloads of tasty beer. As well as a mean core range, they’ve loads of specials that compliment that range. We were lucky enough to try the Mayan, a chocolate chipotle infused stout, a Siberia, a Rhubarb Saison (this was superb) and Mary Jane IPA, a hopped version of their Mary Jane Ale for the US market. Luke also was kind enough to give us whiskey aged specials to take home! Can’t wait to crack those open!!

Hopefully we’ll get to return the favour if he makes it to Ireland in the near future to check out our scene. 


The last stop of the day brought us to Wharfebank in Otley. Here we were met by Tyler at the brewery who brought us in and showed that amazing american hospitality, no soon were we in the door were we brought the most sumptious pints of Oberon. A special bitter @ 4.8%, this thing was sensational. Truly one of the best beers I tasted while on that trip. Oberon is a king in Shakespears Midsummer Nights dream, this certainly was a regal beer. I really hope that they get picked up by an Irish Distributor. Tyler was also kind enough to give us two bottles to bring home. Alongside another couple of specials, and a DIPA named Big Tiny! Tyler, we will definitely meet for pints when you are over in December ! 

Janice with the team @ Wharfebank

This all got me thinking, from chatting to each of the people involved in these breweries, it became clear they were respectful of the rich brewing tradition that exists in Yorkshire, and is blossoming with new brewers, Sam said there are 70 odd in W Yorks alone! That these brewers were not afraid to go beyond their “Core” range, infact some of the beers just sounded crazy, in a good way. I mean, a Rhubarb Saison, who wouldn’t be intrigued to try that. It is a lesson I feel our native brewers here need to take on board. It will get pretty boring if everyone does the same styles all the time. We are beginning to see some experimentation, but to those who say there is no market here for that, then how the hell do we sell out of the various Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Sierra Nevada, Rogue etc Beers? Just some food for thought I suppose. 

Once again, thanks for reading, all comments and feedback welcome!