Otley Beer Festival is a charity event – that is organised to raise funds for charitable causes thanks to main sponsors and ‘sponsor-a-barrel’; but mainly thanks to the help and efforts of our friends from the Parish Church and those from the local community. We are also indebted to local branches of CAMRA and the ever helpful local breweries.
Since 2002 we have raised over £100,000 for the Parish Church
and local charities, or ones with a local connection.
The story so far.....
2020 was to be our ‘OBF ON TOUR’ year, organised to support our Otley pubs following the pandemic closures. We did have a trial run with one beer – ‘Goose Eye Bitter’ presented at the Royalty in September; unfortunately, a further lockdown put a stop to our plans in November. Our thanks to those sponsors who continued to support us.
2019 saw another great festival at the rugby club, with 60 real ales on cask, plus 7 craft keg and 10 ciders and perries; these included 13 breweries new to our festival.
Wilde Child won Beer of the Festival for the third year running with their ‘Brownie Hunter’ a 4.9% chocolate fudge stout.
Our total donations to charity passed the £100,000 mark – outstanding!
58 cask beers plus 6 craft keg beers were available, including beers from 6 breweries new to our festival - these were complimented by a range of 10 ciders and perries. Wilde Child 'The Italian Job', a tiramisu milkshake stout, was voted Beer-of-the-Festival by our customers. We raised & donated £7,000 to the Church & designated charities in 2018.
59 cask beers plus 6 craft keg beers were available, including beers from 18 breweries new to our festival - these were complimented by a range of 13 ciders and perries. The new ticketing system proved a great success too.Wilde Child Hedonistic Existence, a chocolate granache stout, was voted Beer-of-the-Festival by our customers. We raised and donated £7,300 to the Church and designated charities in 2017.
59 cask beers plus 4 craft keg beers were available; including beers from 12 breweries new to our festival - these were complimented by a range of ciders and perries. 'Iced Tea Dead People', a collaboration craft keg beer from Abbeydale Brewery/Brewdog Sheffield was voted Beer of the Festival by our customers and Harrogate Vanilla Porter our Cask Beer of the festival. We raised and donated £6,100 to the church and designated charities.
Another great year with 62 real ales from 34 different breweries, including 10 breweries new to our festival; plus for the first time 5 craft keg beers. More beers, more customers and more monies raised for charity. For the first time we had a tie for our Beer-of-the festival, a pale beer and a dark beer being voted for by our customers. Saltaire Elderflower Blonde and thwaites Bird dock became joint Beer-of-the-festival winners.
This year we had 62 beers from 33 different breweries, including 10 new to the festival. We included Champion Beer of Britain 2014, Champion Cider 2014 and Champion Perry 2014. Our hand pump bar was renamed 'Mike's Inglenook Bar' in memory of Mike Forster, one of our organising team who died earlier in the year. Customers voted Briscoe's RATS Remembrance 'Beer-Of-The-Festival'.
Once again 65 beers proved to be more than enough. A record attendance again and another £7,300 raised for the church and our chosen local charities. A wonderful selection of beer styles, strengths and colours plus even more ciders and perry. Ilkley Brewery's 'The Norseman' was voted as 'Beer of the Festival' by our customers.
2012 proved to be so successful that we had a queue outside on the Friday night as we were full to the legal limit - even the Mayor and MD of a local brewery couldn't get in. The success of the event was reflected in the fact that we raised enough to give £7,500 to the church and our chosen charities. From the 65 beers on offer, it was a beer specially requested and re-brewed that won the 'Beer-Of-The-Festival' - WharfeBank Treacle Toffee Stout.
For 2011, after the success of the previous year, we were once again at Otley Rugby Club, with our new RATS flags flying proudly over the event. A very busy Friday was followed by a quieter Saturday. 65 beers were on offer, with 14 on handpumps and 10 cider & perries. There was still quite a selection on offer at the finish. WharfeBank launched their new core beer VPA - Verbeia and ten new breweries were represented. Thwaites Our Boys/Our Girls was voted Beer of the Festival.
The move to a new venue proved to be a huge success. The club officials were most helpful and once again the festival broke all previous records. There were 62 real ales, with 13 on handpumps. A few beers were left at the finish despite one brewer having to replace two casks that had run dry early on Saturday. All our ciders and perry sold out.
Rudgate Jorvik Blonde 3.8% was voted Beer of the festival.
once again broke all attendance records and hence monies raised for charity. 63 real ales were available, with 15 of them available from handpumps plus a selection of 13 bottled beers and also ciders and perry. Almost a sell-out again, but still some left at the finish. For the second year running Saltaire Brewery won ‘Beer of the Festival’, this time with Madagascan Ale 5.0%.
2008 was a record year for customers. 61 real ales were available, with 13 of them available on handpumps plus a larger selection of bottled beers – including some from the Otley brewery in Pontypridd, Wales. Not quite a sell-out, but almost, with only 5 available at the close. No less than 8 beers were especially produced for this ‘Year of the RAT’ festival and one of them – Saltaire Maple Port Ale 4.9% was voted Beer of the Festival.
For 2007 we had an increase to 3 main sponsors, with one kindly donating bar and handpump loan. 59 beers were available, with 10 on handpumps. The Global Beer bar now had 6 ciders & perry, 8 bottled beers and also a special selection of other bottled beers. Beer of the festival was Fox & Newt 5.0% Dark Side.
In 2006 we were fortunate to have two main sponsors. 56 beers, with 8 on handpumps again. 5 ciders & perry and 10 bottled beers in the Global Bar. Beer of the Festival was Fernandes 3.9% Triple OOO.
For 2005, following completion of the restoration of the Church’s east window, we chose in future to donate monies raised to ‘Local Charities’ as well as the Parish Church. Once again 56 beers were available, with 8 on handpumps. However, a second ‘Global Beer Bar’ was introduced into the lower hall and this had 5 ciders plus once again a specially commissioned beer and, thanks to a main sponsor, a selection of 8 bottled beers from Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Beer of the Festival was Old Bear 4.5% RATS Blood.
In 2004 we were fortunate to have a main sponsor. Beer range increased to 56 plus 4 ciders. Handpumps increased to 8. A specially commissioned souvenir bottled beer was also available. The beer of the festival was Tigertops 4.8% Uberweiss.
For 2003 the popular ‘Sponsor-a-barrel’ scheme was launched and the monies raised went to complete the works associated with the “East Window Appeal”. Beer range was increased to 54 beers and 4 ciders. Beer of the festival was Briscoe’s 6.1% Parker’s Pet.
Five years later in 2002 the present Vicar launched the “East Window Appeal” to raise funds for the restoration of the crumbling stonework and sagging leaded supports for the Parish Church’s magnificent stained glass East Window and thus the idea of another beer festival was resurrected. A much larger 2nd Otley Beer Festival in Otley Civic Centre was devised, having 42 beers plus a cider. Local brewery Briscoe’s provided no less than five of the beers. Six of the beers were served by handpumps, thus allowing provision of 18 gall. kilderkins. Tigertops 4.5% Blanche de Newland proved to be Beer of the festival.
It all began in 1997 when the then Assistant Priest organised a small beer festival to help with Otley Parish Church’s “Open To All” appeal – this was to raise money for much needed restoration work. 14 beers were assembled in the first floor function room of the Black Horse in the centre of Otley and 8 of these had a ‘clerical’ theme – Bishop’s Finger, Vicar’s Ruin, Rector’s Revenge, etc. Special guest was brewing vicar the Rev. Godfrey Broster who brought along three beers from his Rectory Ales Brewery; he also gave a tutored tasting presentation.