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Loved it, Loved it, Loved it

Loved it, Loved it, Loved it

It made me quite nervous actually, when Cheryl told me that she wanted me to be a “runner” – which meant i had to fetch the beer to my allocated table for blind tasting by the judges.  Yes of course it seems simple now but in the hustle and bustle of activity in the hall and not having done this before I was more than a little apprehensive at the start.  Ren, was chuckling at me, he’s so Old School you know!

As a runner we had a list of codes and a string of labels with the same codes and strictest instructions from Sir, to make sure we brought out the beers according to our list.  So we had to go get some empty jugs, label them up, take them to the cellar for filling and then fetch them to the table.  Hopefully, if you had timed it right the judges would be just about finishing tasting the last ones – God forbid that you’d have kept them waiting!  In between fetching out the beers you just about had time to clear the used glasses and get some fresh ones ready.  Not to mention clearing the table between rounds, fresh water, new scoring sheets and pens and lots of crackers. Running – you bet!

So yes for a few hours it was busy, busy, busy – but the camaradie between all the helpers was just brilliant.  David (Merlin) and other Dave (Acorn) were running on the tables by mine with Dave and Steve also from Acorn and Lee and Kim from Bollington on glass / jug washing duties, so as you can imagine there was plentry of banter and laughter with a little bit of sneaky sampling happening as well.

Finally, all the sniffing, eyeing, tasting and judging was done, the debris cleared away, our volunteering complete and we could at last start enjoying some of the 260 plus beers on offer.  It seemed ages till the results came through but here they were.  Its like you daren’t hope but yet you love your own beer, surely they deserve some recognition you’re quietly thinking.  So just sitting there, going through the motions, noting down in the programme (that i subsequently lost!) who’s won what, graciously acknowledging and applauding as each one is announced.  Woo and then it was “and Gold in the Best Bitter category goes to Abbeydale Brewery’s Deception”  Yes, yes oh yes!!  And then Deception got Bronze Overall – t’was just fabulous to hear.

Winning gold at this festival means that Deception automatically qualifies for SIBA’s big National Beer X Festival in Sheffield next March.  Promising to be big and bold, Beer X is set to be a four day celebration of British beer, combining the SIBA annual conference with the final judging and presentation of the National Brewing Competition.  But best of all there’s to be a three day beer festival!  It’s something like this is going to be the first time all the SIBA brewers, from all over the country will be showcasing alll their beers at one event – and it’s happening here in Sheffield!  Ooooh fingers crossed.

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Well Praise the Lord!

We’ve heard through the hop vine that Rev Mark Abrey and his parishioners, so bereft at losing the sanctuary of their village pub in Ascott-under-Wychwood, converted the Holy Trinity Church into the Trinity Arms – for one night.  Included as part of the service were “Confessions” and “Absolution” which they sourced through a local micro brewery.

Does that not just warm the cockles of your heart – but also show how invaluable our local pubs are.

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What I loved about my first RambAle

Perhaps its just me, but until recently I still had a bit of an old fogie image of CAMRA folk, of all men with beards, socks in sandals and that sort of thing!  So on my first rambale I was fully expecting to be the only girl.  Not that that would have bothered me, the thought of a new (and guided) walk with a couple of good pubs thrown in is an ideal day out for me with my hubbie and our dog.  

But I wasn’t the only girl, in fact there was lots of other girlies and all of the same mind, a good walk with a few pit stops thrown in.  Of course there was a chappie with a beard but he was really cool and had us laughing all day.  Our walk was exactly what it said on the tin – a very nice ramble, at your own pace but with some cracking pubs at the beginning, loads in the middle and a couple just for good measure at the end.  A fab day out – can’t wait for the next one……….

Check out Beer Matters – Dates for your Diary for forthcoming RambAles

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Dan’s Sunfest Bit 2012

Dan's Sunfest Bit 2012

Welcome everybody to our 6th Annual Sunfest. Many thing we have kept the same this year including the type of high quality beers you have come to expect from the likes of Bollington, Kelham, Marble, Acorn, Raw, Brew Company & Abbeydale to name but a few. The ever popular fruit beers this year are from Saltaire (Elderflower, Raspberry & Blackberry beers), Marble and their Ginger Stout 6.5%, Downton’s Chocolate Orange Delight 5.8% and Apple Blossom Ale 4.3%, Off Beat’s Wild Blackberry Mild 3.6%, Dunham Massey’s Chocolate Cherry Mild 3.8% and their Blossom Honey Beer 4.3%. I have managed to hold the offering at just over 100 different beers in total which proved quite a challenge are there are so many fantastic breweries to choose from.

New(ish) breweries we are hosting this year include the likes of The Hop Studio (York), North Yorkshire Brewing Company (Hull), Chester Ales (Chester?), Oats Brewery (West Yorkshire), Front Row Brewery (Congleton) and Merlin Brewing Company (Sandbach, Cheshire). All will be worth seeking out!

One aspect of the beer festival which is different this year is the decision to include a small selection of craft keg beers and lagers in the beer tent. As this is our first time I have decided to only go for 5 different beers including one Raspberry Framboise from Kirkstall Brewery brewed in Belgium!

One beer I’m particularly excited about is the one-off brew, Dr. Morton’s Old stock. The Old Stock (Pat Morton’s creation) is special in many ways. Not only did he cook up 50kg of candy sugar to go into the boil but this 6.9% monster got dry hopped with Celia and Cascade and primed in the cask with 150g of maple syrup. If that wasn’t special enough for you, this one and only cask we have for the Sunfest has been ageing for 4 months on a bed of Jack Daniels bourbon oak aged wood chips. We haven’t tried it yet but the Dr. and I believe this tawny, red beer will be a tastebud sensation. Other old aged beers worth seeking out are Raw brewery’s Dark Peak Reserve 6.0% (2011 vintage) and of corse our Black Mass 6.66% and Black Lurcher 7%.

I know the ABV is incorrect but this is the pump clip we had made up for this unique beer.
                                              Dr. Mortons Oak Aged Old Stock

Any questions about the North Riding Brewery’s Dan’s Stag Do Mayhem, come and ask me!

Hope you enjoy the festival 🙂

Dan Baxter, Abbeydale Brewery.

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Fruits of your generosity

Fruits of your generosity


Those of you who came to Sunfest 3 or were around in the July of 2009 might remember that our Charity beer that year was Shepherd Wheel Ale and our supported charity the Shepherd Wheel Restoration Fund. We raised over a thousand pounds towards this good cause, a tiny drop in the budget needed for the restoration, the bulk of which came from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Shepherd Wheel PlaqueInside Shepherd Wheel

On Saturday 12th May, all of the hard work of the fundraisers and the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust came to a wonderful conclusion with the official opening of the restored Shepherd Wheel. We were delighted to find that Abbeydale Brewery gets a mention on the plaque – really it is a mention for all of you who came to Sunfest or drank the beer.

The Water WheelThe pond at Shepherd Wheel

I’d suggest that if you haven’t visited it before or haven’t been there for a while, you go and take a look at Shepherd Wheel. It is currently open every weekend and bank holiday Monday and it’s free. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and an incredible piece of Sheffield’s early industrial history. There is a leaflet which you can use to walk right up the Porter Valley from Hunters Bar, which points out lots of vestiges of the industry which once thrived right along the Porter Brook. And of course just a few minutes up from Hangingwater road or down Fulwood Road is an excellent pub – The Rising Sun.


And of course it is soon Sunfest time again. This year 5th to 8th July 12-11 daily. Our supported charity this year is Rain Rescue, our charity from 2010. So please come along and drink some beer, have a good time and contribute to a good cause.

Poster for Sunfest 6

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CAMRA’s Outstanding Contribution to Real Ale Award(s)

CAMRA's Outstanding Contribution to Real Ale Award(s)

This prestigious award is rarely awarded. They certainly don’t hand them out like beer mats! In my time at Abbeydale I have heard of only 3. As of recently – March 2012 – one of our “gold stars” The Interval Café & Bar (one of our top Moonshine outlets) was presented with such an honour. The Sheffield University real ale society and I were all there in force to witness bar manager Chris Aucott proudly collect. The evening was also featured as a Scottish night and like a wake for Brew Dog’s Alice Porter being the last ever cask ale in their production line.

 Interval award                                           Interval award 2

Interval award 3                                            Interval Moonshine

The occasion reminded me of October 2010, when not only did Deception win Champion Beer of Sheffield at the Steel City Beer Festival but our own Pat Morton also received this accolade. To the amusement of the whole Abbeydale team, knowing how Pat dislikes a fuss, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Promotion of Real Ale.” Like you, I’m sure we all know it was well deserved!

  Pat 1              Pat 2

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What Happens When 200+ Brewers Get Together in One Place for 2 Days?

Well perhaps not quite what you imagine, well ok yes lots of beer gets consumed and yes some people are a bit late getting started on day 2 and yes some don’t surface at all, but on the whole it is a pretty business-like event, with beer.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) holds its annual conference in March each year and for the third successive year it was in Stratford on Avon, at the Holiday Inn, a lovely spot by the side of the River Avon.

SIBA is the trade association of Independent Brewers and has over 600 members ranging in size from tiny micro breweries to some large regionals. It also has lots of Associate members representing a lot of brewery suppliers and some large breweries not eligible for full membership. It is the body that lobbied successfully for the introduction of Progressive Beer Duty which allowed many of its newer members to spring into existence.

The Annual Conference has the formal AGM – and for once we weren’t debating what to call ourselves. SIBA started out as the Small Independent Brewers Association but then some of its members weren’t so small any more or they and the group didn’t want to be labelled as such and since then it has been struggling with what to call itself, whether to retain the SIBA or dump it and how to fit what it does call itself into that acronym. Currently it is the Society of Independent Brewers and Associates. So it fits, sort of.

This year the debates were much more interesting around what constitutes “good” real ale or craft beer. Many SIBA members are focussing on different kinds of products – keg beers for one. Just about all the craft beer in the US and in Europe is served in keg and they don’t get hung up on the CAMRA line of “keg beer is not real ale”. Cloudy beers are another – again no-one expects a Belgian craft beer or a German wheat beer to be clear but the guidelines for judging SIBA beer competitions have clarity as a criterion. SIBA is responding to this: last year they introduced a keg craft beer competition which attracted over 40 entries and at the AGM this year it was agreed to take a good look at the clarity criterion on the judging panels. So a group of brewers will get together, including the proposer of the motion and sort it out. All pretty friendly and civilised.

Another highlight of the conference is the trade day when just about all of our suppliers for everything from malt and hops to labels, glasses, software and brewery insurance are gathered at the conference to show their wares. It is a really good way to get around suppliers (and their competitors) and make or renew a personal contact, find out what they have in the pipeline and maybe check out alternatives.

The picture shows the breweery team enjoying a sample of beer with Will from Charles Faram, our hop suppliers. The beer was brewed by Little Ale Cart in Sheffield to show off a new hop variety which Farams are developing. No idea who the chap in the foreground is!

Finally though, there is chance to network with other brewers, find out what is going on with them and what their issues are currently and how they are coping or have coped with issues bugging us. The brewing world is a pretty friendly one where competitors are often also friends and neighbours and mostly willing to act in a friendly and neighbourly way.

Sue Morton

Thanks to Douglas at for the piccies.

  • About Us

    A true Sheffield institution founded in 1996 and based in the heart of the Antiques Quarter, Abbeydale Brewery blends heritage and tradition with creativity and innovation.

    Abbeydale Brewery brochure

  • Contact Us

    Abbeydale Brewery Ltd
    Unit 8, Aizlewood Road
    S8 0YX
    Telephone: 0114 281 2712
    Email: [email protected]


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