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Our new brew kettle

Our new brew kettle

It’s been a busy, somewhat nerve wracking but ultimately very exciting couple of weeks for us here at Abbeydale Brewery as we’ve successfully commissioned a brand new brew kettle! The kettle is an absolutely crucial piece of our brewkit, used for every single beer we’ve ever made (except for that one raw ale created for our Funk Dungeon project!), so this is a really important development here at Abbeydale HQ. Our previous kettle had been with us since 2009, and used for literally thousands of brews – the hope is that our new kettle will see us through just as many years and provide a considerable upgrade to our brewing capabilities.

The kettle has travelled a whopping 14,000km from China to reach us here in Sheffield, and we were able to track the progress of our new vessel on its voyage across the seas, which Pat in particular watched with keen interest! The changeover of kit meant we were unable to brew for ten days whilst the installation took place – the longest break we’ve had since the very early days of the brewery.  To counter this, in the weeks leading up the anticipated arrival of the new kettle, our brewteam ramped up production, ensuring that every single tank was full before the old kettle was decommissioned. And we haven’t run out of Moonshine, so we’re definitely calling that a job well done!

The project was undertaken with our suppliers SSV, who designed and commissioned our new piece of kit, working closely with us throughout the whole process. Although we’re currently keeping our batches the same volume while we get used to how everything works, the new kettle is almost twice the size of the previous one, with a working capacity of 6000l.

Our new kettle is more energy efficient than its predecessor – it has a built in vapour condensing unit which recovers energy, meaning we can capture the heat from the steam used for boiling our wort and recycle water at 95 degrees back to our hot liquor tank, ready for the next brew.

A built in whirlpool separates the flocculated proteins (trub) and additional hop matter from the wort, which should help us to create a cleaner flavour profile and clearer beer more easily. The whirlpool also includes the potential to more quickly chill the wort down to 80 degrees (any surplus cold liquor used for chilling here is also able to be recycled as hot liquor for the next brew), which can reduce hop isomerisation where desired, making it that bit more straightforward for us to brew beers with a lower bitterness but just as much delicious flavour. We will be using more hop pellets as a result – these are less absorbent to wort than whole leaf cones, meaning a higher yield in fermenter. Overall, the whirlpool gives us another way to experiment with hop additions and provides greater flexibility in terms of beer flavour and production for our brewteam to experiment with.

The external wort boiler is another new component to our kit, which can increase the efficiency of isomerisation due to a more active and higher temperature boil. This also helps prevent caramelisation, which is perfect for those light and crisp pale ales that we’re so well known for.

By heating wort in the external wort boiler (EWB), cooler (99 degree) wort is taken from the bottom of the kettle into the EWB, which is then heated by steam to 103 degrees and pushed out of the distribution plate back onto the wort at the top of the kettle. A thermosiphon current is thus formed, without the need for a pump. As well as reducing energy consumption and preventing too much agitation of the wort, it also looks pretty cool (#science)!

Finally, our brewers have access to lots more feedback on how the brew is progressing, with a plethora of more sophisticated sensors giving our team more detailed data across parameters such as flow rates, temperatures and volumes, ensuring more control and therefore more consistency than ever before. All this information is displayed on a swish new control panel, which has further potential for upgrading into our existing milling equipment in the future too.

The first brew on the new kettle was, of course, Moonshine, and the team are now starting to put it through its paces with some new specials as well! We’re excited to announce that our Deliverance collaboration with Yakima Chief, a 7% IPA featuring Sabro, Talus, and experimental hop HBC 472, was the first brew using the new whirlpool to its full potential. This beer is one of highest rated of all time, and we can’t wait to see it making another appearance on our availability lists very soon!


Team Abbeydale

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From Heathen to Cryo Heathen

From Heathen to Cryo Heathen

When we first started brewing keg beers early in 2014, we set about a series of one-off beers that were (imaginatively) named ‘Pale Ale #1′, ‘Pale Ale #2, and so on.  Our favourite recipe was ‘Pale Ale #6′, which was later renamed Mosaic, after the hop it was brewed with. The initial artwork for Mosaic was originally intended to be a stop gap and the long-term plan had always been to rebrand and rename the beer to bring it into our range of permanently available brews. So we set about the task of coming up with a new name for this wonderful beer.  We wanted something that was worthy of us shouting about, something that recognised our past, but also that could help drive the image of the brewery forward in this ever-changing industry. 

And so it was that back in 2016, we enlisted the talents of an artist called James Murphy, who was asked to create a contemporary design for our Mosaic release. Many names and ideas were passed back and forth over a couple of months and after meeting brewery owners Sue and Pat, and Sales Director Dan, for pizza and tank beers at Crate Brewery in London; James came up with three working ideas for the newly named Heathen American Pale Ale, alongside a re-drawn Abbeydale logo.

The first of these designs, and the one favoured by James, was a sea god and crow with waves crashing over the Abbeydale logo. Following on in a similar fashion, the second was a stylised Norse helmet with the Abbeydale logo within. In hindsight, both these ideas had their limitations and would have had a restricting effect on any future expansion or development of a range.

The third design shows the origins of the now well-known ‘praying hands’ design we have come to love. At first, it was felt that the crossed fingers did not necessarily work and the hands would simply be praying to the Abbeydale logo instead but throughout the development, the crossed fingers were brought back in – insinuating that the character was not actually praying, but believed in luck instead.

The background and supporting information were then neatened up and the ubiquitous rays were introduced – starting with a bright red alongside a complementary amber to represent the beer colour.

At the time of the Heathen launch, we said “we hope this is the start of a long working relationship between James and the brewery” and we’re absolutely delighted that this wish came true! Over five years on and Heathen was effectively the kickstarter for our Brewers Emporium range, which we officially launched in March 2017 – and James is now our in house designer!

So for our 25th anniversary we felt it was only proper to celebrate not just those beers which have been with us since the very beginning, but those that have become a key part of our identity in the years since. And it was so popular back in August last year that we’ve made it again in time to enjoy before the first frost of winter arrives!

Welcome back Cryo Heathen – a ramped up, special edition, even more Mosaic-y version of Heathen! Weighing in at just a slightly heftier 5.0% ABV, it holds those familiar flavours of grapefruit, mango, and peachy undertones that we know and love but with everything given that extra bit of a boost. Mosaic has been added in leaf, T90 and cryo hop form, resulting in an aromatic and flavourful beer with a lipsmacking bitter finish.

Cryo hops have undergone a process whereby the hops themselves are preserved at low temperatures, and the lupulin (where all the good stuff is!) is separated out and concentrated into a pellet – so it’s absolutely packed full of intense flavour and aroma (you can read more about these tasty little things here!)

The term “Cryo” comes from the Greek word ‘kryos’, which means “frost”, so for the artwork for this special release we looked to communicate this without steering too far away from the familiar Heathen identity. This release was originally part of our 25th Silver Anniversary celebratory range of beers and we wanted to use a technique that would help the beer stand out. The use of transparent labels, as with our Funk Dungeon range, allowed us to utilise the cold, reflective silver of the can alongside the cool blue to emphasise the ‘Cryo’ to great effect.

Cryo Heathen is available to buy in can from our online shop from Monday 30th May, as well as from independent retailers, with cask and keg available for our trade customers too.


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Black Mass: Black IPA!

Black Mass: Black IPA!

Same beer, stronger identity!

Black Mass has previously been described as a bit of an enigma… a hop forward dark beer, too hoppy to be labelled a straightforward stout and without a category to define it over 25 years ago. The term “Black IPA” simply wasn’t around when the beer was first made, on 6th November 1996, and as a descriptor it didn’t really become part of the beery lexicon until circa 2008 – with its oxymoronic nature causing both consternation and fascination in the beer world ever since!

We’ve always made a point of brewing whatever we want and not really following the fashions, and we reckon that we were ahead of the curve with this one. We’ve edged around relabelling Black Mass as a Black IPA for a few years now, and it seems to be that that’s what most of you like to describe it as, so we’re being bold, we’re nailing our flag to the mast, and we’re calling it… Black Mass is not just a Black IPA, but it’s one of the world’s first, and certainly one of the most long-standing.

In exciting news, to go with its new identity, Black Mass is now going to be AVAILABLE IN KEG as well as cask and can! We trialled this at a Tap Takeover at the King’s Arms in London a few months ago and it went down so well we’re making it a regular feature.

We’re also pleased to announce that Black Mass now joins many of our other beers in having Brewers’ Clarex added to the brew, so is labelled GF moving forwards. And while we’re at it, we’ve removed the finings too, meaning it is vegan friendly! (Please note there is likely to be some overlap in batches on bars and shelves, so do check at the point of purchase if you have any dietary requirements!) Other than these small tweaks, which in no way affect the flavour, the recipe remains exactly the same.

Black Mass has been with us since our very beginnings as a brewery, and we feel this move to strengthen its identity helps it prove its place as a beer which is still incredibly relevant to where we are today. It’s heavily hopped with predominantly Cascade, weighing in at over 150 IBUs and 6.66%. Rich and smooth on the palate, with delectable flavours reminiscent of bitter chocolate, fruitcake and raisins, and aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and just a hint of burnt toast, it’s classic and familiar yet simultaneously unique and boundary defying.

(You can read more on the history of and inspirations behind Black Mass in this blog post, published last year in celebration of its 25th birthday, too).

#BIPAComeback? We’re all for it! But maybe, just maybe, it’s been there all along…


PS of course we had to ask brewery owner and Black Mass creator Pat for permission – here’s a sneak peek into our decision making process!

  • About Us

    A true Sheffield institution founded in 1996, Abbeydale Brewery blends heritage and tradition with creativity and innovation, showcasing these values across an unparalleled range of beers.

    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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