Real-ale enthusiasts from across the country are making a beeline for Otley to enjoy the town’s 13th Beer Festival.
The annual, two-day fundraiser begins at Otley Rugby Club tomorrow and will feature 65 real ales, along with a selection of beers, ciders and perries.
Running from noon to 11pm on both days, this year’s festival will raise money for Otley All Saints Parish Church, along with Otley Action for Older People, Otley Museum and Otley Cycle Club.
Organising committee chairman Allan Boddy is looking forward to seeing visitors sample some of the many varieties of beer on offer in an “excellent” venue.
He said: “We are delighted with the rugby club. It has excellent facilities and the staff have been extremely welcoming and helpful –as far as we are concerned this is now our permanent home.
“We are very proud of the fact Otley Beer Festival is very much an Otley event.
“Not only do we get our beers from local brewers including Briscoe’s, Rodham’s, Ilkley and WharfeBank, but we also get sponsorship from many of the local businesses.
“And most of the 65 real ales on offer this year come from the old West Riding, though some will be coming from further afield. Two beers will be supplied by Thwaites of Blackburn and, once again, a beer is coming from the Otley Brewery in Pontypridd, Wales.
“Jeff Utley and Paul Briscoe, who choose the beers with a little help from the rest of the committee, are always keen to support local breweries, especially those that have just been established.
“New breweries featured this year include Ben Rhydding Brewery, Harrogate Brewery, Sunbeam Brewery and Wharfedale Brewery, and 16 of the 34 breweries supplying beers to the festival are situated within a 20-mile radius of the town.” As always the festival is being supported through its Sponsor a Barrel scheme by many local companies and individuals but also, this time, some from much further afield.
Mr Boddy said: “Our main sponsor this year is Maypole Fisheries.
“We are very grateful to them for their generosity and also to all the businesses who take part in our sponsor-a-barrel scheme.
“There are a number of unusual sponsors this year.
“Four families have sponsored barrels to celebrate new arrivals in the family since the last festival and I am delighted that these recent arrivals include my own grand-daughter, Carys.
“OFFER (Otley Action for Fair trade and Economic Rights) is also sponsoring a barrel of beer made from Fair Trade products as part of the town’s bid to retain Fair Trade status.
“And there are one or two more distant sponsors including the most distant of all, Das Boots, a football team from Saskatoon, Canada.
“That came about through a friend from primary school who emigrated to Canada more than 20 years ago who I’ve kept in touch with.
“John’s son and friends are in a football team called Das Boots – they are all fans of the film Das Boot – and he has been over twice now to indulge his liking for English beer and help at the festival and each time the team has raised the money to sponsor a barrel.”
Set up and run by Otley RATS (Real Ale Tasting Society), the festival has raised almost £60,000 for the parish church and local good causes since 2002.
Admission is £5, which includes a programme, souvenir glass, and a £2.50 drink token. Visit http://otleybeerfestival.co.uk/ for more details.