The original Ilkley Brewery was a product of the late 19th century, and used to supply beers and waters branded with their trademark ‘Olicana’, which comes from the Roman name for the Ilkley area. But that was another era, and another business. As we went through in the review for the brewery’s Virgin Mary pale ale (now itself rebranded to the more neutral ‘Maiden Mary’), this latest iteration of the business was reclaimed and re-founded by locals in 2009, and was the first brewer to be in production of beer in almost one hundred years. The previous incarnation had at one time been one of the biggest in the country, and built a reputation on using quality ingredients. An article from 1893 states “From time immemorial the purity of the Ilkley water has been extolled as one of the greatest gifts bestowed by beneficient nature on this highly-flavoured district of beautiful Wharfedale…” Being that the makeup of beer will be around 99% water, it’s certainly a good start if you have a quality product to begin with.
Ilkley Brewery’s Nowt Mary is the brewer’s second non-alcoholic beer, and is based on their existing Stout Mary offering. But whereas Stout Mary is an oatmeal stout, Nowt Mary is a milk stout. I wonder why the brewer chose to change the style for the transition to non-alcoholic, as both adjuncts (oatmeal vs lactose in a milk stout) are mainly there to add body to the beer. I suppose the lactose will also add some sweetness, but usually alcohol-free beers tend to be on the sweeter side of the spectrum as it is. Whatever the reason, there should be some good flavour here, judging by the beer’s ingredients. Ilkley Brewery uses Chocolate Malt, Crystal, Golden Naked Oats, and Golden Promise malts, along with Crystal and Fuggle hops. Fuggle hops are a popular choice for stouts, giving earthy tones, while Crystal hops have similar notes, along with spice such as cinnamon and nutmeg. These sound like great additions to a dark beer, right?
Nowt Mary’s bottle states that the beer is ‘best drank with pies and friends’ – isn’t this applicable to pretty much any beer? However, for this review it’s just me and my naked palate, so let’s get into it.
The beer pours a very dark brown, almost black colour, and is opaque. A fluffy tan-coloured head is produced as it fills the glass, but unfortunately this fizzles away after a few sips. On the nose we get the aromas of roasted grains, dark chocolate, coffee grounds, plus a few earthy notes. It smells rich and inviting, just like a good stout should.
We get bitterness up front when we taste, with roasted grains giving an almost smoky background, along with black coffee. There’s a very slight earthy note to the beer, almost as if it had been aged in an oak barrel. The promised sweetness from lactose is hard to discern, and the addition hasn’t done much for the body of the beer either. Carbonation is good, but it suffers from being ‘a bit thin’ – which may well be the number one statement made about non-alcoholic beers unfortunately! The bitterness has died down by the finish, which is mild, with a slight sweet note.
Ilkley Brewery Nowt Mary is another example of a decent AF stout, but doesn’t do anything that pushes it to the fore amongst it’s peers. Flavours and aromas are both good – rich and dark, but it’s lacking the body that some other non-alcoholic dark beers have been able to pull off. Maybe some of the oatmeal that Ilkley Brewery use in their Stout Mary offering was needed here too?
Buy Ilkley Brewery Nowt Mary
Ilkley Brewery’s offerings should be available around the Yorkshire area, hopefully including their alcohol-free beers. If you find it difficult to source a bottle of Nowt Mary, these online shops should be able to sort you out:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Water, Malted Barley, Wheat, Oats, Hops, Lactose, Yeast|
|Country of Production||United Kingdom|
|Brewer||Ilkley Brewery – https://www.ilkleybrewery.co.uk/|
|Vegan Friendly?||No, uses lactose|
Ilkley Brewery Nowt Mary NA Stout Review
Full flavoured alcohol-free milk stout, with less sweetness than a usual milk stout, and slightly lacking in body. This doesn’t stop it being a lovely drink though!