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Ilkley Brewery, Siberia

It's a crazy arse beer, and we love it (and Melissa) for that.

A previous incarnation of Ilkley Brewery operated in this historic Yorkshire spa town between 1873 and 1923 before being taken over by a bigger outfit and finally leaving the area completely.

Locals Stewart Ross and Christopher Ives had no brewing experience at all, but after organising a beer festival and arming themselves with a three day brewing course, decided to get their town brewing again in May 2009.

The five years since have been a complete whirlwind with the brewery now firmly cemented in the hearts of both old school cask beer aficionados and a new wave of beer lovers seeking something a little more adventurous. This week's beer is probably something for the latter.

Siberia was brewed in collaboration with author, journalist, broadcaster and beer sommelier Melissa Cole. How on earth did they come up with a rhubarb infused saison with vanilla and grains of paradise? We asked Melissa that very question…

"As with so many stories these days, it started with a Tweet (to be sung to the strains of Hot Chocolate 'It Started with a Kiss'! I was musing out loud on Twitter how much I'd like to do a Rhubarb sour, I'd tasted the Mikkeller one and, whilst I really liked it, I thought it fell slightly short of my expectation and wanted to have a pop myself - not that I think I could do better, I just wanted to see if I could create what my head was expecting.

Ilkley answered me and said they were in the middle of the rhubarb triangle and that we should talk... we did and, lo, Siberia was born.

It's actually fermented with rhubarb that's been poached with vanilla rather than infused, I suggested that as rhubarb has immensely complex sugars and starches and I didn't want exploding casks when it all started getting eaten in secondary fermentation. We used Saison Dupont yeast, whilst there are Grains of Paradise in the fermentation. Dried orange peel goes in the boil.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, it's called Siberia as that's where rhubarb originates from."

That world famous Yorkshire Rhubarb adds a lovely hint of sourness to this complex yet refreshing saison. There is an earthy spice from the Grains of Paradise and the vanilla adds a bit of sweet balance which the orange peel and blend of European hops work hard to cut through. Delicious.

It's a crazy arse beer, and we love it (and Melissa) for that. 

Author, journalist, broadcaster and sommALEier Melissa Cole is living the beer dream. 

Not only does she write extensively about the world's favourite drink, she also works with chefs to create beer and food extravaganzas in venues as diverse as Michelin-starred restaurants to local pubs, and is invited to judge at beer competitions from London to Brussels and Amsterdam to America.

Her reputation for having a fine palate and fun approach to all things brewed, was cemented in her début book Let Me Tell You About Beer, which has been hailed as the perfect beginner's guide to beer, and is available not only in the UK but in three different languages across the world.

Melissa was also identified as one of the Most Powerful Women in the Drinks Industry by Channel4 Food and won the acclaim of her industry peers when named Educator of the Year by Imbibe magazine in 2013.

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