2019 – A Year in Review. Ten Years in the Making

The original Ilkley Brewery & Aerated Water Company was founded in 1873, but brewed its final pint exactly 100 years ago. We brought brewing back to the town 10 years ago. From humble beginnings serving the local community, we have now grown into a regional and national brand, most famous for Mary Jane.

Brewing Without Beards… our ladies that beer

We’ve now brewed 13 million pints of beer! That’s more than 3 Olympic swimming pools. What a swim that would be! But it’s not All About Mary (though she is still 50% of our brewing!), in these last 10 years we’ve brewed 200 unique beers. How many have you tried? Do you remember De Passie? Siberia, Notorius F.I.G, Man From Dunkel? How about Darwin’s Tipple or Capello’s Glory (a short-lived beer name if ever there was).

This year has seen even more new beers, as we started our 10 Hail Marys Project to celebrate our anniversary and also celebrating our joyful industry and its collaborative sprit. So we’ve brewed a load of incarnations of Mary – a Black IPA with our friends from Five Points (Mary Hoppins), a Milkshake Pale with Tiny Rebel (Sweet Mary Jane), a Sour with two brewing friends from Italy, Bruton and Cane di Guerro (Ave Maria), a Spruced-up IPA with friends North of the border Harveistoun and Williams Brothers… into the new year we’re off to Berlin to brew a Berlinerweisse NEIPA (Berliner Weiss Weiss Mary) with German boundary-pushers BRLO, and keep your eyes peeled for Death by Mary with local heroes Northern Monk and more as we march through the never-ending list of Mary puns!

There is so much more to smile about from 2019 – we got ourselves a new Head Brewer, Ally who joined us from Brewdog. Our trainee brewer, Adam gained his Brewing Diploma and is cracking on with further qualifications. We installed a brand new fermenter, enabling us to keep up with increased demand. We secured our furthest tap listing, 8,036 miles away on the Russian island of Sakhalin, as well as national supermarket listings in France and Finland. In fact, this year we’ve grown our exports from 3% to 10% of our overall sales. Have you come across our beers when on holiday? Do let us know, it’s always great to see Mary on tour!

One of the best things about this year though has been hosting so many successful and fun Brewery Socials. We’ve welcomed over 1000 of you through our doors at events this year, introducing many of you to new beers, but mostly simply enjoying of being part of the community. A big thank you to those who’ve supported us at these events, and tell your friends and see you at the next one!

2019 also saw the launch of a new beer, that will we think come to the fore in 2020 and beyond. The latest member of Mary’s family (joining Joshua Jane, Ruby Jane, Stout Mary, Mary Christmas and all the Hail Marys) is our first Alcohol Free beer – Virgin Mary. A beer without sin, as The Guardian described it. Did you know that 1 in 4 Millennials don’t drink at all? The Low and No drinks movement is the fastest growing in the drinks market, and the myths that no alcohol means no taste are being busted quicker than you can say “Kaliber”. We’ve been giving people tastes of Virgin Mary without telling them what it is, and the response is always “ooh, is this a new hoppy pale ale?”… well yes it is, it’s just a bit more #poweredbyvirtue than #poweredbybeer. So whatever your tastes, whatever your motivation, whatever your mood, Ilkley Brewery has you covered. And we can’t wait to make more beer for you, drink more beer with you, and be part of your 2020.

A beer without sin

As for now, we’re off to toast the incredible year we’ve had with a special Barley Wine we bottled recently after ageing it in a whisky barrel. It’s called 10×10 and is a very special celebration of 10 years. Slainte!

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