Well, hello there! My name is Luke and I am the latest edition here at Ilkley Brewery. Not only am I going to be helping Chris and the guys in the Brewhouse and the office, I’m also going to be talking to you about what it’s like to be a budding brewer! So I guess you may (or may not!) want to know a little bit about me before I get down to what really matters: malt, hops, water and yeasty goodness.
I started working in the bar trade in1999, but it wasn’t until I moved to Leeds and worked at North Bar that, like a rich foamy head, my love of all things malty really surfaced. I left North Bar, turned right, and helped set up Sandinista Cantina Bar, just up the road, growing that company to include two more bars and an outside event company before taking a sabbatical at the end of 2009. I spent a year hopping (I’ll warn you now, I am prone to add many more terrible puns throughout my blogging… it’s a terminal condition for which my wife has so far found no cure!) around Australia and New Zealand, from Hop to Antipodean Hop. I got married whilst away, and much ale was of course supped in celebration! My new wife and I then managed to wangle our way into another brewery, and this time instead of just sampling the beers, we started making it! After completing the in-house Brew School at The Monk Brewery in Fremantle, WA, our passion for beer became ingrained. However, it wasn’t long before the urge to drink “proper” beer (not that we weren’t enamoured by the offering down under, but more of that another time) overcame our love of the beach and we returned to the sunny shores of England. Also, our visa’s ran out. It was just after returning that we met up with the esteemed gentlemen from Ilkley at a Meet the Brewer night in Leeds, and a plan began to ferment. So here I am, squeezed in with the latest delivery of Galaxy Hops, occupying a space in the middle of the brewery. And believe you me, it feels good. To my right; the sound and aroma of beer being born, to the left; the iconic Cow & Calf vista, to the front; the wonderful sound of progress as Directors Chris and Richard discuss seasonal beers! I can’t see behind me, but I’m pretty sure that there’s something beery going on there too!
And as for me, having cut my teeth cleaning out the mash tun on the last run of Mary Jane, and transferring gallons of Pale into casks ready for delivery last week, I hopped my first batch of the lovely Lotus IPA on Wednesday, as well as transferring yet more Mary Jane and Ilkley Black to casks. I tell you, no blood and a few tears, and plenty plenty sweat goes into shoveling out the ¾ tones of hot spent grain in the mash tun!
So, my first full week in the Brewhouse, and I’m ready for more! I look forward to seeing you all at the Beer Society night on Friday – easy to spot; I’ll be the one with a beer in my hand!!