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Our year in beer

Our year in beer

Well, what a year! I think it’s fair to say that 2017 has been one of the best yet for us here at Abbeydale. Here’s just a few of our biggest achievements and proudest moments…

We’ve undergone the first rebrand of our core beers in the brewery’s 21 year history and launched our magnificent Brewers Emporium range.

We’ve gone international for the first time, hosting a Meet the Brewer event and Tap Takeover at the wonderful Abirradero in Barcelona as part of our collaborative work with Instituto de la Cerveza Artesana, and attending our first European beer festival in Zagreb for their Craft Beer Week. Through our distribution networks, some of our beer has also made its way to Berlin and Hong Kong!

Alongside this we’ve taken part in some brilliant events here in the UK, including Thornbridge’s Peakender festival, the Independent Salford Beer Festival and two events at Eebria’s Bermondsey tap room, where they named us "ones to watch" for their Future of British Brewing tap takeover.

We’ve upped our collaboration game yet again, having worked with some incredible brewers from all around the world to create oodles of delicious collaboration brews. A highlight of the year for us was definitely welcoming back some old faces to the Abbeydale team for the day, creating “4 Degrees of Separation” with Siren, Magic Rock and Northern Monk. And hunks of meat featured in our beer for (perhaps not unsurprisingly!) the first time ever as we rustled up “Don’t Go Bacon My Heart” with Ass Clown Brewery all the way from North Carolina.

The BEST DAY was had by us all hosting our first ever event in the brewery itself. It was so rewarding and really quite humbling to see how you all embraced our ethos and became part of the Abbeydale family. A huge thank you to everyone who joined us and we hope that we will see many more of you next year… watch this space for more details!

Finally, we’ve upped production yet again with the installation of new tanks and a shiny new cask washer (more exciting than it sounds, honest!), embarked upon the beginnings of our Funk Dungeon project, an exciting barrel ageing and souring programme, and have made the move into packaging into cans as well as minikegs of our beloved Moonshine, meaning that more of you than ever have been able to get your hands on some of the beers we’re most proud of. This is definitely an area we’re looking to expand next year too, so look out for more of our bright and distinctive cans on shelves around Sheffield and beyond!

There’s not much more to say apart from to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Safe to say, 2018 has a lot to live up, but we have plenty of ideas up our sleeves!


Laura, on behalf of us all at Team Abbeydale

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Moonshine Minikegs

Moonshine Minikegs

For the first time, you can drink our most popular beer at home, as we’ve released a limited run of 5L minikegs full of Moonshine just in time for Christmas!

This first batch has gone almost exclusively to Sheffield suppliers whilst we gauge demand. Brewery stock is all spoken for and we will not be filling more before Christmas, so once they’re gone from the retailers listed below, they really are all gone!

Archer Road Beer Stop


Beeches of Walkley

Beer Central

Devonshire Cat

Dram Shop

Hop Hideout

Mitchells Wines

Mr Pickles

Rising Sun, Nether Green

Starmore Boss


Outside of Sheffield, the Draughtsman Alehouse in Doncaster is due to take delivery of some on Friday this week (15th December).

This is a project that we hope to expand upon next year though, so watch this space!

Merry Christmas!

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Meet the Artist – James D Murphy

Meet the Artist - James D Murphy

Here at Abbeydale, one of the things we’re well known for is our bold branding. We launched our Brewers Emporium range early in 2017, and knew we needed a look that was eye-catching, distinctive and unique, which would really help us to shout about these beers we’re so proud of… and so we turned to James Murphy, who having designed the Heathen badge the year before knew us well already! You’ll be familiar with the look of these beers by now, so we thought it was high time for you to get to know James himself a bit better too!

Hi James! Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you first get into illustration?
I’m a Leeds born illustrator currently living in a green and leafy part of London. I studied at Art School back in Leeds and have been doodling and drawing for as long as I can remember. 

I have an eclectic portfolio of work built up over 15+ years of long nights and reams of paper. I’ve worked on skateboards, longboard decks and large shop and brewery murals amongst other fantastic jobs. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with various bands, both up-and-coming and well-known – producing merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies and gig posters as well as album art.

How would you describe your own artistic style?
This is always a tough question to answer.  When I set out to create something, my aim is to make it strikingly bold but equally detailed. I want the viewer to want to delve further into the image and spend some time looking at it, particularly when it’s a commercial piece of work. I definitely don’t want it to be glanced over. 

A lot of my work is mainly black and white, so I like to use a number of different pen sizes to get nice thick, crisp, clean lines. 

I’ve been told I have a distinctive style and I ain’t going to argue – that’s great to hear. No one wants to be the same as someone else. I guess that’s up to others to say though.


What is your inspiration behind the Brewers Emporium range?
Abbeydale Brewery has been great in allowing me the freedom to do what I do best – and we’ve also worked a lot together creating representative colors and creating complimentary colour pallets. There’s no denying the brewery’s ecclesiastic links. This has played a relevant but not overpowering influence in the designs and compositions we have come up with.

In trying to stand out in a busy craft beer market, we’ve looked to give Abbeydale a unique look, which can be difficult due to the limited size of pump-clips and cans etc. I hope we’ve succeeded. I feel we have. It has been great fun producing images as diverse and as challenging as tall ships (Voyager), a UFO (Unbeliever), a zombie hand (Lost Souls) and some nasty looking snakes (coming soon!).

When Abbeydale give me a beer name, I try not to take it too literally – that can make the image a bit too predictable.

Which other artists (both within and outside the beer community) do you most admire?
There’s a lot of great artists currently plying their trade with breweries at the moment. I’m a big fan of Kev Grey‘s work with Black Iris Brewery – the clips and cans are so clean and clear and I love the images. It’s also good to see Drew Millward‘s distinctive work appearing on Northern Monk’s patron’s project cans. I’m a big fan of Brooklyn Brewery’s classic design, created by the acclaimed Milton Glaser – he designed the I ‘heart’ NY iconic logo too!

As for outside of the brewery world, I have to say I am fortunate to be friends with two amazing illustrators. The first is Matt Hodson (Matthew the Horse) whose character illustrations are always so pleasing and full of mirth. John J Pearson is another whose work just gets better and better. He is currently producing graphic novel wonders, movie posters and live art murals in Leeds. I’d love to see them work on a can or pumpclip design. Do find out more about them both.

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created for us at Abbeydale?
I have a few. It’s been fun. When it’s fun, I work better.

If I had to choose one, it would have to be Lost Souls. Close second would be Wanderer. Both designs are borne out of conversations with friends a long time ago so it’s good to see them come to be.

Other faves are Salvation (Lighthouse) and Pilgrim (Church).

And finally – when you go for a beer yourself, what sort of style are you most likely to choose?
I’m a creature of habit and IPAs are what I first started drinking properly. Voyager #1 is my favourite so far from the Brewers Emporium range. I like Pale Ales just as much and outside of Abbeydale, Little Creatures is ace, as is Vocation’s Pride and Joy American Pale Ale.

Check out James’s website for more!


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New Racking Record!

New Racking Record!

Just in time for the Christmas rush, we’ve taken delivery of a shiny new cask washer! Not only is it faster than our old equipment, increasing our packaging capabilities, but it’s more efficient, uses less water and safer chemicals, and is therefore more environmentally friendly too.

Yesterday a total of 112 brewer’s barrels of beer was racked into cask and keg – that’s the equivalent of a MASSIVE 32,256 pints and means our lads lifted approximately 21 tonnes of beer between them.

We’re soon to commission an equally shiny new keg washing and filling machine too, a much needed investment to increase our efficiencies and keep up with the growing demand for our delicious keg beer.

Safe to say our brewteam have definitely earned a pint this weekend!


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Top 5 Cosy Sheffield Pubs

Top 5 Cosy Sheffield Pubs

Well that’s it folks, winter is most certainly on it’s way! Whilst we’re busily rustling up some seasonal brews to help get you through the colder months, here’s our pick of where to drink them in five great places around Sheffield to stay snug throughout Autumn and Winter…

The Rising Sun

Our very own pub, the Rising Sun, is the perfect venue for a delicious Sunday dinner or following a brisk and breezy walk out in the countryside. A real community pub, a warm welcome is guaranteed all year round, but in the colder months there’s also a roaring fire to warm your cockles around! 12 real ales are on offer, which always includes a great variety of our cask regulars and specials alike, plus lagers, ciders, keg beer and a carefully curated range of wines and spirits. Food is available all day, and the new seasonal menu focuses on hearty pub classics with a modern twist.

The Itchy Pig

A little gem of a micropub located in popular student area Broomhill. Landlord Ted and his team of lovely staff really know their stuff when it comes to beer, and this place prides itself on offering an ever-changing selection of keg and cask beer (very often including our seasonal specials!) as well as a cracking range of gins. As an aside, there’s also an excellent pork scratching selection (we recommend the Pig of Doom)!

(Photo credit: James Vanderhoven)

The Fat Cat

Run by our friends over at Kelham Island Brewery and widely regarded as one of the pioneers of Sheffield’s beer scene. Another pub with a proper fire, the snug side room is truly cosy and there’s always a lively atmosphere. We can recommend the Monday night quiz and curry too!

Three Stags Heads

Ok, so not strictly in Sheffield this one, but worth the drive out into the stunning Derbyshire countryside. The Stags was our very first customer back in 1996, and still showcases four of our ales, including their very own house brew Black Lurcher, a wonderfully warming, deep and roasty 7.0% stout. A totally unspoilt seventeenth century inn that’s packed full of traditional charm… just make sure your mobile phone stays firmly in your pocket!

Thor’s Tipi Bar

For their second year in Sheffield, Thor’s Tipi Bar will be open in the Peace Gardens from the 22nd November until NYE, bringing Viking inspired Christmas cheer (and plenty of beer) to the city centre. There’ll be a fire pit, fairy lights and furs (faux, of course!), with mulled wine and a hot chocolate station to provide that quintessential festive feeling! Large parties can book in advance now via Thor’s website.

(Photo Credit: Ben Hale Photography)

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The Funk Dungeon

The Funk Dungeon

Over the past few months, you may have noticed that we’ve been releasing some rather intriguing and unexpected brews from our equally intriguingly named Funk Dungeon. Our brewer Jim is the brains behind much of what’s been going on in the slightly creepy space in our cellars, and he’s put this post together to give some insight into where we’re at with the project, with another post to come to let you know what to expect in the future.

A little introduction to the barrels themselves first. The majority of our oak stock is neutral in flavour. Exploring what each different barrel will lend to the end product is something we are excited to investigate as we continue to age our beers. The development of our secondary fermentation culture will be a big part of the project, highlighting healthy fermentation and great flavour. We will be learning as we go and working to repitch into other projects.

Our barrels are stored on racks created by a metal fabricator based just up the road from us. This has allowed us to increase our barrel quantity without taking up too much space. With Sheffield’s rich steel history, local industry is important to us, so we’re proud to have supported small business in this project too.

Anyway, on to the beers. Out in the wild (so to speak!) right now are…

Brett Tangerine Pale (7.3%)

We started off with two barriques of a pale, very lightly hopped wort, which was initially barrel fermented with Sacchromyces Bruxellensis Trois (recently reclassified from a Brettanomyces strain). In primary fermentation this produces a wonderfully orangey flavour. The fermentation took close to 40 days at 12°c, which is the ambient temperature in our cellar. As we sealed the barrels, a dose of Brett Lambicus was added for another 6 months before tasting again. The Brett has really worked it’s magic here and eaten up literally all of the sugar (the final gravity came out at 1000.67) leaving behind a beautifully dry beer. To finish, we dry hopped with Citra and added orange peel to enhance the fruity esters of the yeast as well as adding some sweetness to boost the body, before packaging into kegs. This beer is one of six we’ll be taking to the Eebria Taproom in London this Saturday 11th November.

Methuselah 2 (8.1%)

For this one we took the first runnings of our core dark beer, Black Mass. It first went into a French oak barrel in August 2016, with the startings of our house culture of Brett and Lacto strains. After a couple of months this was split between a pair of American oak barrels to spread the culture, before being topped up with pre-fermented Black Lurcher (a 7% dark ale) and repitched with additional yeast blends from other barrel fermentation projects. 6 weeks prior to racking into cask, the beer was flavoured with vanilla, cocoa nibs and sour cherries to add some sweetness and round out the flavours better. The result is an 8.1% stout with the wild yeast apparent on the aroma and a fruity palate, where the barrel character has contributed well to the final flavour without any overpowering woodiness. The final pH has come out at 3.92 so whilst it’s not overly sour there’s a fresh tart nature that balances well with the oak character and stout backbone of the original brew. This beer made its first appearance on cask at Salford Independent Beer Festival and went down really well.


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Heritage Brewing

Heritage Brewing

For our first ever heritage brew we have teamed up with legendary beer historian Ron Pattinson, in conjunction with Jules from Sheffield Beer Week.

Together, we’ve revived an 1868 William Younger No 1 recipe, which in today’s terms would probably be labelled a barley wine. As we’ve learned from Ron, however, it’s difficult to fit these historical beers into the constraints of our modern beer styles! At the time, this would have been described as a Scotch Ale, an Edinburgh Ale, or simply (and pretty accurately!) as a Strong Ale. Weighing in at a hefty 10.3%, we plan to release some of the beer in steel casks with the remainder being barrel aged for an even more authentic flavour. We will be using a variety of sizes and types of barrel, and testing and comparing the different types throughout the ageing process (with continued input from Ron and Jules) to get the tastiest beer possible.

…And the first of these casks is heading to Sheffield CAMRA’s Steel City Beer Festival this week!

Originally created by Younger’s in the 1850s, their No 1 “King of Ales” continued to be made for a full century, although it underwent many recipe changes throughout this period. We’ve kept ours as close as possible to the 1868 version of the recipe, with a few small amendments due to modern constraints.

The brew day itself was pretty unusual, with different techniques needed to recreate the recipe effectively. Our usual 1 hour 15 minute boil was increased to 2 hours, darkening and strengthening the wort “manually” – usually, we’d add a darker malt and some sugar!

We are planning to launch the barrel aged version of this beer at a special event during Sheffield Beer Week in March 2018, keep your eyes peeled for more details on this nearer the time.

For more on historic Scottish beer styles, we can highly recommend Ron’s new book “Macbeth!”. It was a privilege to spend the day with such a knowledgeable man with so many interesting, thought provoking and often hilarious stories to tell.


We also just wanted to make a quick comment on the news that SIBA Beer X, the trade exhibition and beer festival run by the Society of Independent Brewers (of which we are a member) has moved to a bigger venue in Liverpool after 5 years in Sheffield. Sheffield Beer Week has always been run at the same time as this festival since it’s inception three years ago, so what happens now?

It’s fair to say that Sheffield Beer Week coinciding with Beer X was initially an advantage, as it meant that many brewers and other industry people had already flocked to Sheffield and so were in the area to attend and deliver events. However, we certainly believe here that Beer Week itself now has so much momentum and is such a great thing for our wonderful beery city that it is a huge attraction for the industry and customers alike, in and of itself.

And so whilst it’s a shame that SIBA has made the move, we support their decision in terms of the new improved venue that Liverpool is able to offer, and look forward to Sheffield Beer Week continuing to expand independently.


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Don’t Go Bacon My Heart…

Don't Go Bacon My Heart...

BEHOLD our most recent transatlantic collaboration! After visiting Ass Clown Brewing in North Carolina last year, we were absolutely blown away by their astonishingly tasty, culinary inspired beers, dreamed up by head brewer Matt. For his trip back across the pond to visit us here in Sheffield, we really wanted to make the most of his remarkable knowledge and bring the worlds of beer and food together. The result? A bacon and ice cream stout, weighing in at 7.1% ABV.

We got in touch with our good friends at Whirlow Hall Farm Trust, who provided us with 30kg of locally reared, high welfare smoky bacon (according to Matt, using unsmoked bacon results in beer that tastes of hotdogs, not quite what we were aiming for!) which was BBQ’d outside the brewery by our Sales Director and Pitmaster Dan. Dan has long wanted to create a hearty, meaty beer, so this was a bit of a dream come true. 10kg was added to the hopback during the brewday itself, overseen by our brewer Scott who devised the recipe along with Matt, with the remaining 20kg (well, let’s say 19ish… sandwiches may have happened) being used to add it’s delicious smoky flavour during fermentation. The ice cream character is present in scoopfuls, with plenty of vanilla and lactose in the recipe for a velvety, sumptuous mouthfeel.

The incredible artwork has been created by Jake Baggs, who has worked with Ass Clown on a number of projects in the past and has given our collaboration a fun yet slightly subversive image which fits it absolutely perfectly! Here’s a sneak peek at his initial ideas below…

We can also recommend “going the whole hog” and ramping up this ridiculous flavour combination even further! Ted and the team at the Itchy Pig micropub in Broomhill (Sheffield CAMRA’s current Pub of the Month!) hosted us for a fantastic evening of bacon beer ice cream sundaes, using Sheffield’s favourite Our Cow Molly ice cream and complete with salt and vinegar pork scratching dust sprinkled atop the concoction (we’re really not sure why this worked, but trust us, it was epic.

The beer is available now and is absolutely flying out of the brewery. Who ever said pigs can’t fly?!


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We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to take part in Brewdog Collabfest for the second year in a row, following on from the success of last year’s Iced Tea Dead People peach iced tea brew!

Full details of the beer we’ve made with our friends at Brewdog Sheffield this year are still under wraps (although there’s a cheeky clue in the photo!), but get yourself down to any Brewdog bar nationwide between October 20th-22nd to try it! We’ll be hosting a Meet the Team session at the Sheffield bar from 8pm on Friday 20th, so hope to see plenty of you down there.

We’re in some absolutely epic company this year as you can see from the image above – for more information, check out this blog from Brewdog HQ.

Bring it on!

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Unbeliever 3

Unbeliever 3

Brewing is full of surprises. Sometimes, things don’t quite go to plan. And sometimes, things go absolutely, totally and catastrophically wrong. One of the main challenges facing a brewer is what to do to correct things when they aren’t quite as expected… luckily, it can be one of the most fun parts too!

A couple of weeks ago, we were brewing our usual Wednesday Moonshine – 30 brewers’ barrels of the stuff, to be precise. We got mashed in, started to run off, and everything was ticking along nicely… until the steam boiler gave up.

Without steam we couldn’t bring our wort up to the boil. Boiling is an absolutely essential part of the brewing process – amongst other things, it sterilises and stabilises the wort, evaporates off unwanted volatiles that can lead to unpleasant aromas, and isomerises the hops which allows them to add their bitterness and temper malt sweetness.

And so we were faced with a decision. Pour almost 5000 litres of wort down the drain, take the hit on wasting a tonne of grain and be short of beer a couple of weeks down the line – or work together, pool our skills and make the best out of a bad situation. Ever the optimists, we chose the latter.

After relieving the local supermarket of literally all of their live yoghurt (containing souring agent lactobrevis), the wort was transferred to a fermenting vessel via the heat exchanger, bringing the temperature down from around 65°C to 41°C. At the same time, we purged with CO2 to reduce the oxygen content of the beer, to limit the risk of the development of butyric acid which gives off a distinct “baby sick” character – not exactly what we were aiming for! In addition to this we transferred with a small amount of lactic acid, which lowered the initial pH to around 4.5, and lactobacillus plantarum to work with the bacteria in the yoghurt to facilitate the souring process.

The following day, with the emergency engineer having tended to the boiler’s every need, we were back up and running and so were able to transfer the (now pH 3.3) wort back into kettle and boil it up to stop the souring process and ensure a sterile environment was retained. Having brewed a gooseberry saison the week before, with sturdier yeast than our house culture (which loses it’s appetite very rapidly at pH values of under 4), we were able to skim off some surplus to pitch into the new sour brew.

It’s worth noting that a year ago, we simply would not have had the knowledge to pull this off and would have had no choice but to throw the beer away. The fact that we were able to salvage this brew (despite having not used this method before, our previous sours being created in the kettle) and make something creative, delicious, and just the kind of beer we all want to drink, is testament to our brewers’ thirst for knowledge and development and the freedom we have here to experiment and have a go! (Although admittedly, we would generally not be encouraged to play around with quite this volume of beer!)

The result of all this? Unbeliever 3! Given that there’s rather a lot of this brew, we’ve taken the decision to split the batch into three to give us more opportunity to experiment with flavours – and our brewers have created some tasty combinations for you to pucker your face around!


Unbeliever 3.1 – a tropical sour with oodles of mango, passionfruit and pineapple.

Unbeliever 3.2 – dry hopped with Sorachi Ace.

And Unbeliever 3.3 – inspired by breakfast! With blueberries, oats and vanilla.

Coming soon – watch this space!

  • 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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