As a young twenty-something female, opting for an ale at the bar may seem an odd choice to some, but from my time living in Poland a few years ago I have become increasingly interested in good beer. Now back in good old Yorkshire I am lucky enough to be surrounded by numerous great breweries and micro-breweries offering delicious ales a'plenty.
So last week I ventured over to Whitelocks Ale House, one of Leeds oldest pubs, for a 'Meet the Brewer' session with Ilkley Brewery.
One of the first ales I ever tried was Yorkshire's most wanted multi-award winning ale, Ilkley Brewery's Mary Jane. Not a bad introduction if you ask me! It is today still one of my favourites and I do have a silent squeal of excitement to myself when I see it on keg in a bar.
Arriving at Whitelocks, we worked our way down the back bar for a nice cosy affair of about 10-15 like-minded ale lovers.
Photo: Diane Wong
On arrival, there were some lovely little bite-sized snacks on offer, including some banging pork pies and black pudding and brown sauce topped hash browns.
The bar was graced with three new brews for us keen-tasters to try. These included a Black IPA, Pata Negra, an Olicana Pale and Rye N' Dry.
Chris Ives, Head Brewer and Christa Sandquist, Lead Brewer, were at hand to talk us through the new beers and enlighten us on what makes Ilkley Brewery beers so distinctive and drinkable.
I had a taster of all three and went for a half pint of the Pata Negra. This beer was originally brewed to celebrate local independent bar Friends of Ham's first birthday, but has been tweaked and a single batch reproduced for this year.
Coming in at 6.2%, this is quite a strong beer, but it was delicious, not too heavy and perfectly accompanied the bar snacks on offer.
Photo: Diane Wong
Listening to Chris, it was great to hear about their process of making new beers and how they are constantly innovating and developing new and exciting beers since their opening in 2009.
Unfortunately I didn't get to stay for as long as I liked (I had already been out that evening filling my belly with Bundobust, see my post here) but I did get a good chance to talk to Chris.
It is clear he is extremely passionate about what he does and the beer that they produce and I am hoping to meet him in the near future at Ilkley Brewery to have a little behind the scenes tour.
Chris will also be at the Street Feast at Belgrave Music Hall tomorrow to launch Ilkley Brewery's latest beer, American Smooth. The launch will be held from 4pm in the second floor bar.