Sunday, December 4, 2011

Otley Beer Festival 2011

The nearby town of Otley was host to a wonderful beer festival on November 18 and 19 this year (2011). We went on Saturday the 19th so my wife could drive home and I could partake and then share my gained wisdom her on the blog.

The town of Otley dates back to the eighth century when "Otta" made his "Leah" or clearing in the forest. Cromwell's general Thomas Fairfax and famous furniture maker Thomas Chippendale are just two of the famous people to come from this area. The town hosts a carnival, a folk festival, a Victorian Fayre, and, most importantly, a beer festival.

How many guys wish for a room like this at home?

The beer festival is only 11 years old and was started as a charity event for worthwhile local causes. It still supports local charities as well as the Otley Parish Church. They've expanded to over 60 different beers, mostly dispensed from casks but some by hand pump. Also a handful of ciders and perries (made from fermented pears!) are served.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon about 4:30. My wife and children headed for the entertainment, which consisted of a lone keyboard player, while I tried some of the brews.

At least they could dance to the tunes!

My first beer was Witch's Finger from Wharfebank Brewery in Pool-in-Wharfedale. The book describes it as "Brilliantly spooky ale, dark & roasted warming ale." I enjoyed it quite a bit, it was smooth and delicious.

My second beer was Smoked Witch from Ilkley Brewery in Ilkley. The book describes it as "Strong golden coloured caramel beer with a smoky finish." I found the smoky description appealing (just like Lapsaang Souchong tea, I wondered?), but the actual flavor left something to be desired.

Then we walked into Otley proper for dinner at Mimmo's Restaurant. Their Facebook page claims they have "THE BEST ATMOSPHERE EVER KNOWN ! :)" You may judge for yourself based on the pictures we took inside.

I knew I shouldn't let Jacob watch Gangs of New York!

Lucy wields her fork like a pro!

Okay, so we didn't take much in the way of "scenery" photos. The restaurant was intriguingly located. We had to go down a covered side alley, and then down a flight of stone steps to the entrance. The walls were all stone with the usual smattering of paintings and other wall art found in Italian restaurants. And also the white board with today's specials. We heard the steaks are good there. We also saw that they only take cash and we couldn't afford a big fancy meal on the cash we had in our pockets. So we ordered some simple pasta dishes that were satisfying. And the children ate them too! Then we walked around the center of town.

The town square has mostly 18th and 19th century buildings. It's now a historic conservation area. Our favorite part of the square was the clock, which features a smaller than normal door, probably from when people were smaller than what is now normal.

A properly sized door!

The rest of the clock tower

We continued on back to the beer festival.

My third beer was White Dragon from Brown Cow Brewery in Barlow, Selby. The book describes it as "Pale aromatic beer, refreshing, with a good level of bitterness and citrus undertones." I thought the bitterness level was too high and thereby not refreshing. It was easily my least favorite of the evening.

The fourth and final beer was High Treason from Rooster's Brewery in Knaresborough. The book describes it as "Gunpowder, treacle & hop! Rich & warming treacle stout; a real treat." This beer was the most delicious of the evening, with a fine flavor as you drink it and nice finish. Time was running out so I had to finish it as we walked out to the car to head back home.

Happily, my wife drove home while I happily basked in the glow of well-drunk brews.


  1. Hi Joseph, great to see some pictures of home. Coincidentally, my two brothers were in Otley that afternoon/evening, but at some of the rather grubbier pubs in the town! Cheap fizzy lager instead of fine real ales - sometimes I wonder about the paternity of those two! It seems that they didn't know about the beer festival - which amused me as I did, some 300 miles away, thanks to you! The wonders of New Media! God Bless, my friend. Sean.

  2. Poor fellows! I'm just beginning to realize the huge differences between beer production and consumption in the USA and the UK. I keep running across beers that are seasonal and only on tap. Most brewers just make casks here. Bottles of local stuff aren't common like they are in the USA. I must go to pubs more!

    It is funny how the world gets larger and smaller at the same time through New Media!