Guide to Sheffield Craft Beer Breweries.
Januarys, who likes them? They are like Mondays. We just have to get through them, even if it means that we’ll be miserable for its duration. Luckily, we’ve had Tryanuary Sheffield to get us through the month with Sheffield Craft Beer breweries.
The Steel City is full of great craft beer breweries, it always has been. We do a lot of things like masters, it used to be our handy work (y’know, cutlery, steel, etc…), we still make great music and art as well as beer, the only downfall is that we are bloody good at drinking it too, even if we can’t use the excuse that we’ve been working hard at the factory all day and deserve an afterwork pint whilst wife puts a pie in the oven.
Since the resurgence of real ale has been dozens of breweries crop up offering something different, exciting and new, it just hasn’t had the opportunity to leave South Yorkshire because we want it all. We are the Real Ale Capital of the World, there’s one brewery for every 23,991 people according to a report by the University of Sheffield and you’ll be able to find around 400 different beers available on your typical day (when the boozer is open!). It might not be the size of Wards or Stones (86% of them can be labeled microbreweries) but these breweries push boundaries.
We might not brew in Sheffield but we feel like we are part of the scene. Here’s a snapshot of what is on offer. We’ve been celebrating breweries throughout the UK, now it’s time to look closer to home.
The catalyst of the new age of Sheffield craft beer breweries. The first new independent brewery in Sheffield for over a 100 years. It all started at The Fat Cat, the real ale boozer that put Kelham Island back on the map when it opened in 1980, a time when tradition pubs were becoming corporate lager drinking holes. It offered something different and from its opening night, until today The Fat Cat has continued to celebrate ale.
Like most breweries, Kelham Island Brewery started off with curiosity. We have a pub, we sell other peoples beer, we could make our own beer to sell. That’s what they did, they brewed beer in The Fat Cat beer garden which is a bit inconvenient for customers wanting an afternoon sesh in the summer so they made the big move next door where they built a brewery. It’s the longest running brewery in the city.
You can find their beers in their onsite shop & tap, The Fat Cat (their pub next door), Tap & Tankard (their pub in town), pubs throughout the city and Tesco!
More in the Valley of Beer…
The Fat Cat might have put the manmade island on the real ale trail of Sheffield but the Valley of Ale is a real destination with many other great pubs too.
The Stones brewery has bee on gone but don’t worry, those pubs won’t go dry. The old warehouses have been put back to good use as they’ve been converted into everything from trendy cafes to offices as well as breweries. This includes Neepsend Brewery who are relatively newcomers (2015) but have grown fast, supplying many pubs in Sheffield including The Wellington (and they will also be opening an on-site tap room). The Sheffield Brewery Company are based just next to the former Stones Brewery, they’ve been around for over 10 years and their tap room opens up monthly, they are shareholders in The Gardeners Rest and you’ll always find their beers on the bar. Little Critters who started out home brewing in 2012 but things got serious when they moved to Kelham Island in 2015 and continue to grow their presence throughout the city.
Exit 33 started out in 2008, learning, building and experimenting. This approach has given them a reputation that you can trust whilst surprising your taste buds. Although brewed in S2, Exit 33 share links with Kelham Island as they own The Harlequin, a pub nestled just on the outskirts of the Island.
Stancill Brewery have brought the past back, reviving Oakwell Brewery from Barnsley and moving it not too far from Kelham Island. It didn’t take long for them to save the iconic Barnsley Bitter, their award winning beers are available at the Kelham Tavern..
If you start your Kelham pub crawl at The Harlequin, the next stop will most likely be the Riverside, owned by True North, one of the cities most dominant brands. Since opening The Forum in 1992 True North has become an empire with fingers in many pies including several pubs that have their own niche speciality as well as being a gin distillery and brewery. The True North logo is like a stamp of approval.
Away from Kelham Island, Sheffield has many more decent pints being brewed.
Unlike many brewers who start at home, Sentinel’s journey began in Sheffield’s beer history as head brewer, Alex Barlow spent time at Bass and continued to grow his knowledge ever since. With this experience behind Sentinel and locally sourced ingredients it’s no surprise of its success whilst its city centre tap room and kitchen pair beers with equally good food.
Abbeydale Brewery share a similarity with Brew Foundation as they also founded with a father and son relationship and a love of beer. This was in 1996 and they have become a staple on many bars in Sheffield pubs. Moonshine is what they are known for but they weekly specials offer surprises and are always in demand. They supply over 400 pubs whilst they count some of Sheffield’s finest as theirs including The Devonshire Cat and The Rising Sun.
Ok, not technically Sheffield but we’ve got to talk about Thornbridge and Bradfield Brewery, both from the Peak District which isn’t far from the city but their influence is huge! Arguably one of Bakewell’s finest exports (after the tart….) Thornbridge has been pioneers in ale revival. Since brewery began in 2005 their award winning beers have inspired and; Jaipur is the direct influence for BrewDog’s Punk.
On the other hand, Bradfield Brewery have taken a different approach as they brew over 100,000 pints a week on a farm. Their blonde remains a go-to for many drinkers
Both Thornbridge and Bradfield Brewery have been part of the Sheffield craft beer breweries scene since 2005.
Every city is shouting about their craft beer scene but nobody has a past and present like the one based on Seven Hills and there’s so much more than this. You can find many Sheffield craft beer breweries on the bars of pubs, supporting the local makers.
The best way to fully understand Sheffield craft beer breweries is to visit the many pubs. Not sure what to choose? Ask the man/woman behind the bar, they’ll be happy to recommend.