It’s not long until 2023’s Sheffield Beer Week kicks off, and we’ve brought back a very special collaboration brew to celebrate the heritage, and historic traditions, of our wonderful beery home town.
Originally brewed in 2022, Sheffield Rocks is a 4.1% dry hopped pale ale. Our suppliers Murphy & Son’s dug in their archives to help us recreate a traditional Sheffield water profile, with added sodium chloride to ensure the best possible starting point for our heritage brew. The malt grist is similar to that of Heathen; primarily low colour Maris Otter but with a good amount of caramalt for a light biscuit sweetness. With Tradition and Goldings hops added to the kettle, before dry hopping with Pilgrim and Cascade to provide our own modern twist, the beer has been fermented using our own house yeast. It has a mild bitter character, with an IBU of 28, and is “liquid gold” in colour with a slight hop haze. The result is an overall balanced and quaffable beer – perfect for a session, characterised by drinkability.
This beer was originally brewed in collaboration with Stuart Noble, who’s career in the brewing industry began in 1974. Having started at John Smith’s, Stuart has worked for Courage, Bass Charrington in Runcorn, Bass Stones in Sheffield and finally Bass HQ in Burton on Trent before joining us at Abbeydale in the mid 00’s. His job at Bass was to look after the way all the beers were brewed, auditing and checking consistency across the different sites, so his beer knowledge and commitment to quality is second to none. Stuart provided some training and consultancy work for Kelham Island Brewery where he met Pat (Morton, our brewery owner, just in case you’re new around here!) and they’ve been firm friends ever since. Stuart has provided training for us here in beer appreciation (a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!) and worked with the brewing team directly too, usually making Moonshine! A brewing consultant for us over the entirety of our history, he’s even a regular at the Rising Sun too!
The inspiration behind Sheffield Rocks comes from the rich traditions of our home town, especially Stones, which was one of the very first pale beers to go against the tide of a world of brown bitters. Before WWII, most of the beer that could be found in Sheffield was dark mild – low in alcohol and salty, to provide much needed salts back to busy steelworkers! Following the war, the then head brewer of Stones invented a light beer, which was revolutionary at the time and took Sheffield by storm. It came to be seen as a huge step change leading the way to pale, hoppy, drinkable beers being at the forefront of our drinking habits… a path which our brewery owner Pat undeniably took another step towards. It was a hugely popular beer – Stones was eventually taken over by Bass and brewed in five different breweries in the Bass group, at a volume of around 3 quarters of a million BBL per year (that’s over 200 million pints!). Bass subsequently decided that Worthington was going to be their flagship beer, and the advertising for Stones gradually declined. The original cask Stones was only brewed at Cannon Brewery on Rutland Road (opposite the Gardeners Rest pub, well worth a visit if you’re in the area!) which closed in 1999. After the closure, Stuart transferred the brewing of it to Burton on Trent, until eventually the volume became too small to be sustainable for them, and moved to Everards in Leicester until it dwindled to less than 50 BBL per week. A version of Stones Bitter, using the classic branding, the original recipe and even the original yeast strain, is now brewed by our friends at True North, in partnership with Molson Coors.
Sheffield Rocks is our homage to all of this wonderful history – the essence of the archetypal Sheffield beer for the twenty first century!
The 2022 brewday team – almost a century of experience here!
Sheffield Rocks is available now in cask, keg and can – via our online shop in can here, and to trade in all formats by contacting our friendly sales team ([email protected] or give us a call on 0114 2812712).