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12th November 2012


Award-winning Ilkley Brewery handed back the brewing reins to a progressive group of female ‘brewsters’ earlier this month as it partnered with Project Venus to create a new, all-American India Pale Ale (IPA) named Venus Voyage, available from today, Monday 12 November 2012.

The collaboration marks the appointment of Harriet Marks, the latest brewer to join the award-winning brewery. Harriet, who has a background in viticulture following time in Australia working in vineyards, brings a unique palate along with a commitment to dispelling the myth that beer is a male domain. Her drive to re-establish women as the original ‘brewsters’, which they were during the pre-industrial age, was signalled earlier this month when she invited Project Venus, a collection of female brewers from around the world, to come to the historic spa town of Ilkley to spend the day brewing a new and exciting ale.

The finished IPA, Venus Voyage, will be available for each of the Project Venus brewsters to take back to their respective breweries to sell under the Project Venus banner. The Project Venus collective is not limited to these shores, however, and member Megan Parisi, head brewer at Bluejacket Brewery in Washington DC, flew over especially to be part of the collaboration.

Brewster Harriet firmly believes that one of the principal factors in helping to increase the popularity of ale in the female market, is emphasising it as a natural companion for food, commenting: “More and more women are realising that beer has subtle and varied flavour profiles which offer almost limitless food pairing matches. Due to its lower alcohol content, compared to wine, it is possible to match a variety of beers throughout a meal making beer a truly diverse and flavour-filled choice.”

Venus Voyage

At 6% ABV, Venus Voyage has plenty of bite, but the punchy American hops are tempered by the subtle spice and berry fruit offered through the introduction of hops from the burgeoning British hop market. Venus Voyage will be available nationwide from the 12 November as a limited edition batch of cask-conditioned ale from the participating Project Venus breweries*.


Ilkley Brewery has been proudly hand-crafting ales for nearly four years, and is delighted that its achievements have once again been recognised by the Small Independent Brewers’ Association (SIBA) with recent bronze and silver medals for its Ilkley Black and Lotus IPA, respectively. The brewing team take this award-winning experience and pour it into the creation of innovative new brews, such as this collaboration with Project Venus.


Harriet concludes: “Here at Ilkley Brewery we are constantly looking to spread the word that Britain should be proud of its brewing heritage and embrace the idea of food and beer matching as one of the many ways to appreciate its diverse appeal. Women are discerning drinkers, and appealing to their unique palates is important when designing a new beer. The involvement of food is a crucial tool in turning around preconceptions.”


To find out more about Ilkley Brewery, visit: or to read the brewery’s blog, go to:



Images attached:

–           Project Venus team (available in high resolution, on request)

–           Harriet Marks, Ilkley Brewery’s brewster


Media contact:

For further media information, please contact Katy Barraclough on 07813 094945 or email


Notes to editors

*Participating Project Venus breweries:

Ilkley Brewery                              

Bluejacket Brewery                      

Brewsters Brewing Company        

Offbeat Brewery                          

Triple FFF Brewery                      

Brentwood Brewing                     

Oldershaw Brewery                      

Dancing Duck Brewery                

Prospect Brewery                        

Welbeck Abbey Brewery              

Sandstone Brewery                     

Waen Brewery                             

Wilson Prospect Brewery             

Zero Degrees Brewery                 

About Ilkley Brewery

The Ilkley Brewery Co. Ltd. was founded in January 2009 by Chris Ives and Stewart Ross.


The idea behind the brewery came from a desire to re-establish brewing in the spa town of Ilkley following the closure of the original Ilkley Brewery and Aerated Water Company in 1920 which was taken over by Hammond’s Bradford Brewery Co. in 1923. With an initial investment of £70,000, Chris and Stewart bought an eight barrel brew plant in spring 2009 and moved into their first premises at Lencia Trading Estate, East Parade, Ilkley where they had the capacity to brew 4,600 pints a week.


In May 2009, The Ilkley Brewery made its first brew, Olicana Gold, and secured its first two permanent pumps. In late spring 2009, Ilkley Best and Ilkley Original joined the re-named Ilkley Gold in the company’s stable of beers and these were quickly followed by the famous Mary Jane.


Autumn 2009 saw bottles of Ilkley Best go on sale in Yorkshire Asda stores.


A string of awards followed with a gold medal for Mary Jane at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) northern region competition in November 2009 with it taking bronze nationally in February 2010.


In February 2010, Ilkley Black was launched at the Bradford Beer Festival where it won gold for best mild. Further gold medals for Mary Jane were won at Ilkley, Horsforth, Guiseley and Leyburn beer festivals.


In April 2010, Richard Shelton joined the company as a director alongside Chris and Stewart.


Spring 2010 saw bottles of Mary Jane and Ilkley Best go on sale in Booths supermarkets and later in the year, Mary Jane and Ilkley Black also joined Ilkley Best on sale in Asda stores.


The summer of 2010 saw Mary Jane go on sale at the House of Commons’ Strangers Bar.


Stout Mary, an oatmeal stout, was launched in autumn 2010.


Ilkley Pale, Ilkley Black and Lotus IPA all scooped bronze medals at the SIBA northern region competition in November 2010.


In January 2011, Chris, Stewart and Richard secured a debt and equity package from Glentrool Capital Partners LLP, who also provide corporate support to help grow the company. This enabled Ilkley Brewery to move from its premises on East Parade to a new 2,600 square foot brewery on Ashlands Road, Ilkley. A new 20 barrel brewing plant was installed allowing the brewery to produce 23,000 pints a week.


In October 2011, a new 30 barrel fermenter was acquired, tasking production to over 32,000 pints a week. At the same time, Stout Mary scooped a silver medal at the SIBA northern region competition 2011.


In November 2011, a range of three craft keg beers were launched called MJ Artisan Ales: MJ Pale, MJ Summit and MJ Fortis. MJ Pale won a national gold medal in the SIBA Craft Beer in Keg contest in February 2012. The craft-kegged beers now command over 50 permanent pumps.


In January 2012, Ilkley Brewery was crowned one of Yorkshire’s most promising companies in the Government backed Local Business Accelerators campaign.


April 2012 saw the launch of the Origins range, showcasing the best in beer styles and brewing. Medina and Siberia were the first collaboration brews with renowned beer writers, and The Chief, Victorian Pale Dinner Ale, Wit Marie, Green Goddess, and Holy Cow have since followed, to much critical acclaim. Siberia was selected for the Great British Beer Festival 2012.


As of August 2012, bottles of Mary Jane, Ilkley Best, Ilkley Black and Ilkley Pale are available in Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Booths supermarkets across the north of England, as well as being stocked by Harvey Nichols stores and restaurants nationally.


Additional SIBA medals for Ilkley Black and Lotus IPA were awarded in October 2012 (Bronze and Silver respectively).


November 2012 – first export sales to leave the UK.