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Sunfest Beer Festival Opening

Sunfest Beer Festival Opening


Eight years and still going strong. Sunfest 2014 could well be the best yet! Unintentionally, this year’s celebration of real ale has taken me into an exploration of brewery collaboration beers. There are half a dozen or so of these on offer this year. Brewery collaborations are a fantastic way to share ideas, expertise and knowledge and have some fun while you do it. Abbeydale did its first formal collaboration this year with Founders Brewery of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The beer is 3712, a 7.0% American PA beast – named after the distance in miles between our two breweries. A more recent collab led us all the way to Raw Brewery, Staveley. The idea – which as far as I know hasn’t been attempted before in the UK – was to try a Kaffir Lime leaf Coconut Stout. This is called Lady Boy and it’s 5.5%. Other collaborations are highlighted in the programme.

In total there are 110 beers on offer from 81 breweries. Eleven brewers are featured more than once mainly because there is either a good story behind them or it’s just beer I simply had to include! An ex employee of ours for example, up and left for Siren Brewery in early May. I exploited his betrayal by insisting he brought us up some beer for this weekend. We never miss an opportunity to source some new and superb quality beer. New Breweries to us this year include; Briggs Signature Beers, Firebrand Brewing Company, Fuggle Bunny Brew House (Sheffield’s newest micro brewery), Highland Brewing Co., Isle of Purbeck Brewery, Keltek Cornish Brewery, Keystone Brewery, Pigeon Fishers Craft Brewery, Stonehenge Ales, 360° Brewing Company & 6° North. Good luck trying them all! Give’em all a tweet if you have the time or patience. Use the hashtag #SunFest14 and Twitter addresses provided for most of the breweries.

One very special beer deserves a massive thank you from me personally to Stuart Neilson at North Riding Brew Pub. With several attempts (all failing) to get our heads together to collaborate together on a beer, Stuart produced a beer to commemorate the birth of my 9 week old son (as of this week). We discussed beer style, abv and hops etc but Stuart was adamant from the beginning that the name was going to be Benjamin James. The beer, "Benjamin James" is a 5.2% pale beer and if Stuart had had anything to do with it, you know it’s not going to be hop shy. And neither will Benjamin if his upbringing has anything to do with it!

On to speciality beers. From fruit, ginger, coffee and even chilli beers to spiced and wheat beers. They can be found in the Sunfest programme with a red box around the beer colour identifying them as extra special. To summarise, it’s "speciality" (red box) if the beer has something other than the four main ingredients; water, yeast, hops and barley. We also have a gluten free beer.

We’ve gone all out with the craft keg beer bar this year. Stepping up from six to now eight. I’m happy to announce we will be helping to launch a couple of local breweries’ new keg beers. We’ll be showcasing Acorn Brewery’s No. 1, a 4.5% modern pale ale and Stancill Brewery’s Lager at 5.0% and using an old original Pils recipe. I’m also really looking forward to a Punch In The Face 4.8% by Totally Brewed and Tiny Rebel’s Hank 4.0%.

Lastly, (said in hush whispers) two extra special casks are the beers from the wood. Absolution 5.3% – tried and tested before this weekend in our two pubs. And Old Ale 7.2% – a new beer of ours, purposely designed to be aged in a wooden cask and for an added extra oomph we’ve primed the cask with Maple Syrup and dry hopped it. The casks certainly imparted lovely oaky, whisky flavours in the Absolution, so the Old Ale will be very exciting.

… I said it was to be the best year yet didn’t I!

Hope you all enjoy the festival and please spare a thought for our charity this year Cavendish Cancer Care. I’m sure their cause requires no introduction. You will find collection buckets dotted around hoping for a spare coin or two or the rest of your beer ticket. Other ways to donate are on their website ( or just drink some of our charity beer Dr Morton’s Survival Kit, available for the first time at this festival. For every pint sold Abbeydale will contribute 10p to Cavendish so fill ya boots 🙂

Cheers & Beers!



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Sunfest 2014 Beer List

Sunfest 2014 Beer List


  Cask Beers    
Brewery Beer name ABV (%) COLOUR
Blue Bee Brewery Inhov The Black 7 Dark
The Brew Company Mosaic 4.1 Pale
Sheffield Brewery EPO 5 Gold
White Rose Brewery Landing Craft 4.2 Gold
Imperial Brewery Bicycale 4.1 Pale
Wentworth Brewery Chilli Plum Porter 5 Special
Harthill Village Brewrey Twisted Hart 5.1 Dark
Steel City Brewing  Born To Be Riled 4.2 Pale
Woodstreet Brewery Amazonia 4.1 Pale
Little Ale Cart Dominion of New Zealand 5 Pale
Toolmakers Brewery Crank It Up 5 Pale
Welbeck Abbey Brewery Unity 4.9 Gold
Welbeck Abbey Brewery Priest Hills 4.2 Special
Acorn Brewery Topaz 5 Gold
Chantry Brewery Tony’s Tipple 4 Gold
Stancill Brewery Spirit of ’66 5.2 Pale
Raw/Abbeydale Lady Boy 5.5 Special
Instant Karma Brewing Company Saffron Kasaya 4 Gold
Dronfield Brewery American Pale 5 Pale
North Riding Brewpub Benjamin James 5.2 Gold
Brown Cow Brewery On Yer Bike 4.6 Pale
On The Edge Brewery Zeus 5.4 Pale
Kelham Island Brewery Mind Control 6.9 Pale
Rock&Roll Brewhouse Breakfast (in America) 5 Pale
Pictish Brewing Company Flyer 4.2 Pale
Saltaire/Dark Star  Le IPA 5.6 Gold
Saltaire Brewery Elderflower Blonde 4 Special
Saltaire Brewery Blackberry Cascade 4.8 Special
Saltaire Brewery Raspberry Blonde 4 Special
Blue Monkey Brewery Three Wise Monkeys 4.9 Pale
Ossett Brewery Rio De Ja Beero 4 Pale
The Rat Brewery Le Grande Dep-Rat 3.5 Pale
Fernandes Janie’s Addiction 4.3 Copper
Riverhead Brewery Bicyclette Blonde 4 Pale
Backyard Brewhouse Fiesta 4.1 Pale
Highland Brewing Co. Scapa Special 4.2 Pale
Fuggle Bunny Brew House Hazy Summer Daze 4.2 Pale
Totally Brewed Slap In The Face 4 Pale
Totally Brewed Papa Jangles Voodoo Stout 4.5 Dark
Burton Bridge Brewery Battle Brew 5 Amber
Dark Star Brewing Company Victorian Ruby Mild 6 Copper
Dark Star Brewing Company Espresso 4.2 Special
Derby Brewing Company Indian Ink 5.2 Dark
Derby Brewing Company License to Chill 4 Copper
Magpie Brewery Angry Bird 4 Copper
Tring Brewery Company Kotuku 4 Pale
Tiny Rebel Brewing Company ZOOL 4.8 Gold
Tiny Rebel Brewing Company Goldie Lookin Ale 4.5 Gold
Yeovil Ales Lynx Wildcat 4.3 Amber
Yeovil Ales Star Gazer 4 Copper
Dawkins Ales Bristol Blonde 3.8 Pale
Isle of Purbeck Brewery Solar Power 4.3 Gold
Fool Hardy Ales Red Neck Ralph 4.7 Gold
Fool Hardy Ales Rhidonkulous 3.7 Pale
Oakleaf Brewing Company Blakes Heaven 7 Dark
Oakleaf Brewing Company Dubbel Barrel 6 Copper
Axholme Brewing Company Chantico 4.7 Special
Brewster’s Brewery Brewers Dozen 5.5 Amber
Double Top Brewery Old Stoneface 6 Special
Townhouse Brewery Aroura 4.3 Pale
Atomic Brewery Spectrum 4.1 Pale
Hopcraft Brewing Steady As She Goes 5 Amber
Abbeydale Redemption 5 Special
Abbeydale Trance Sister 3.8 Pale
Abbeydale Tramlines 4.1 Pale
Abbeydale/Founders ‘3712’ 7 Gold
Abbeydale Black Lurcher 7 Dark
Abbeydale Absolution from Wood 5.3 Gold
Abbeydale Old Ale from Wood 7.2 Copper
Abbeydale Dr. Morton’s Survival Kit 4.1 Pale
Navigation Brewery Back of the Net 4.5 Pale
Brentwood Brewing Company OMG 3.7 Pale
Shiny Brewing Company New World 3.7 Gold
Keltek Cornish Brewery Even Keel 3.4 Amber
Siren Craft Brew Half Mast Quarter IPA 2.8 Gold
Siren Craft Brew Liquid Mistress Red IPA 5.7 Amber
Bristol Beer Factory Milk Stout 4.5 Dark
Firebrand Brewing Company Spring Saison 5 Pale
Pilot Brewery IPA 6.4 Gold
360° Brewing Company Pacific Pale #49 4.9 Gold
6° North Hopocrisy 4.6 Gold
Dukeries Brewery Bolt out of the Blue 5 Gold
Barlow Brewery Revolution 4 Pale
Keystone Brewery Gold Spice 4 Special
Beowulf Brewing Company Pilgrim’s Pale Ale 6.5 Gold
Hop Back Brewery Crop Circle 4.2 Special
Purple Moose Brewery A Pint Of Two Halves 4 Pale
Wood Brewery Golden Goal 3.6 Gold
Downton Brewery Apple Blossom 4.3 Pale
Briggs Signature Ales Gospel 3.6 Gold
Kinver Brewery Noble 600 4.5 Copper
Stonehenge Ales Danish Dynamite 5 Pale
Tipsy Angel Tawny Angel 4.2 Amber
Pigeon Fishers Craft Brewery Test Brew 1.1 4.8 Pale
Ashover Brewery Littlemoor Citra 4.1 Pale
Lincoln Green Brewing Company Village Green 4.2 Gold
  Keg Beers    
Tiny Rebel Hank 4 Gold
Totally Brewed
Punch In The Face IPA
Hibu/Raw trHIBU CHE Balla 5.6 Dark
Rat Rat Against the Machine 7 Gold
Acorn No. 1 4.5 Pale
Abbeydale/Founders 3712′ 7 Gold
Siren/Off Colour Biere de Gouttiere 4.4 Gold
The Kernal Brewery Pale Ale 5.3 Pale
Stancill Brewery


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Abbeydale and Founders Collaboration

Abbeydale and Founders Collaboration


Although they will surely see some of the sights of the Steel City, the team from America’s 26th largest craft brewery hasn’t just come as tourists.  They plan on teaming up with Sheffield’s own Abbeydale brewery to collaboratively create a beer representative of both sides of the Atlantic.

How did the collaboration come about?

Upon conducting a “Meet the Brewer” event at a pub in Rugby, Abbeydale owners Sue and Patrick Morton were introduced to a fan of their beer, Jon Conroy, who just so happened to become the UKs sales rep for Founders Brewing Co.  This serendipitous meeting lead to Jon bringing over president of Founders, John Green to the UK and visiting Abbeydale Brewery in person.

After the obvious passion both sides shared for beer was expressed, the Founders team wondered how their “complex, in-your-face ales” would work as a cask-conditioned beer.  With Sheffield having been quoted as “Britian’s best beer city” in the New York Times and Abbeydale producing Sheffield’s most popular ale*, a collaborative brew between both breweries seemed the route to take to answer this question.        

What can we expect from the beer?

 We’ve been told to expect a strong, full-bodied, pale golden beer packed full of American hops and English malt.  At present, the exact hop recipe has been kept closely guarded; although rumour has it, Founders brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki is bringing a “box of something interesting” over with him to complement Abbeydale’s already impressive and extensive hop range.

Interesting is a word certainly applicable to Founders’ beers as their ethos of creating “beer that pushes the limits of what is commonly accepted as taste” has lead them to the create such masterpieces as “Kentucky Breakfast Stout” an 11.2% American Double/Imperial Stout which has been brewed with coffee and chocolate, placed into oak bourbon casks, then left to mature for one year 80 feet below the ground in the gypsum mines of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Its transcendence has since been rewarded with a ranking of one of the top 10 beers in the world**.

Although American hops are something used widely at Abbeydale Brewery with the US grown Willamette hop featuring predominately in Moonshine, and other big hitting US varieties such as Simcoe, Citra, Centennial, Sorachi Ace and Columbus being used regularly in their extremely popular “Dr. Morton’s” range, owner Patrick Morton stated  “We’re looking forward to venturing out of our comfort zone and into hop-forward American pale territory”.  After the success of Abbeydale’s own 6% “North American IPA”, taste buds are already tingling in anticipation of the collaboration with a brewery ranked 3rd best in the word***.

A superlative sup will hopefully not be the only outcome of the Founders visit, as both sides seek to learn from one another about their different approaches to beer.

America has very little tradition of cask ale, so having the chance to brew a beer at a busy cask led microbrewery, will provide an in depth education into the processes of creating, distributing and dispensing cask ale.  Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki has also expressed his excitement of using brewing equipment seldom seen in America.

 On the other side, Abbeydale have only just recently started experimenting with kegged beer, with their first two beers aptly named “Pale Ale #1” and “Pale Ale #2”, respectively, being distributed earlier in the year.  They now have the opportunity to learn from a brewery that is planning to brew 200, 000 barrels in 2014.

 The beer will hopefully be ready for distribution around the middle of May and with America’s tradition of kegged beer and the UKs tradition of cask, it only seems appropriate that the collaborative brew be destined for both.

 On Tuesday 22nd April, there was a chance to meet some of the Founders Family as the Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street hosted a “Meet the Brewer” evening with a full range of Founders beer available. But, if you missed it, you need not panic! The Devonshire Cat now plans to regularly stock their beer.








* Moonshine is Sheffield’s most popular beer as judged by Sheffield and District CAMRA’s beer capital survey 

** "Kentucky Breakfast Stout" 8th highest rated beer on (correct as of 22/4/14)

*** Ranked 3rd best Brewery in 2013 by


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National Winter Ales Festival 2014

National Winter Ales Festival 2014

This year saw the National Winter Ales Festival move from Manchester to Derby, known for its railways, Rolls Royce and probably something else.  After a sweat-breaking dash to catch the train, three members of the Abbeydale team including one from the Devonshire Cat, squeezed into an already full carriage.  Once on board, I began to wonder if any pubs in Sheffield were open that afternoon, as every manager appeared to be Derby bound.

Arriving in Derby, we stated we were going straight to the festival, which was frowned upon by our peers.  In the style of Sheffield lad Sean Bean in Lord of the Rings, we were told, “One does not simply walk straight to the National Winter Ales Festival.”

So, on recommendation we headed to our first stop: The Brunswick, which boasts its own brewery on site.  The pub was buzzing with atmosphere, its beautiful stone-flagged floors packed with festivalgoers, it being their first port of call, too. My first measure of the day was a pint of Great Heck’s Wheat Beer “Amish Mash”.  As common with wheat beers the aroma of bananas dominated, less common, however, was the wonderful hoppy and fruity notes that powered through this cloudy weizen.

Next, we ventured to the Alexander Hotel, part of the Castle Rock group.  After walking through the door, I wondered if Denzel and the Great Heck team had been truthful about the 4.7% ABV on their Amish Mash as I appeared to see a rabbit hutch in front of me, complete with rabbit.  Dismissing this as a mirage, I headed to the bar and selected my next pint, “Goze” by Axholme Brewery (whose creator, Mike Richards, used to brew at Abbeydale).

Leaving the Alexander and suitably warmed up, we headed for the roundhouse.  Usually, as I’ve mentioned previously, it seems to be a CAMRA tradition to place beer festivals in sports halls, places you wouldn’t call ale drinkers’ “natural surroundings.” However, this time we were heading to the oldest roundhouse in the world – a Mecca for train enthusiasts.  Upon entry, it became apparent there were a few who were experts in both real ale and locomotives, easily identified by their strut into the hall like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”.

Abbeydale had three beers present at the festival and as there were three of the team present and the beers were just next to the entrance, it seemed an obvious first choice. Rick from the Dev Cat went for a beer he had helped brew himself, the pale and spicy  “Dr. Morton’s Chronoform”.  Dan opted for the golden and hoppy “Dr. Morton’s Hedgehog Resharpener” whereas I went for one of my all time favourites “Black Mass”. Quality control was passed on all three and it was time to move on to the next.

Scanning over the casks of ales from all over the country, my eyes seemed to instinctively fall upon those with yellow labels.  In an inquisitive manner, I asked one of the very helpful volunteers what the yellow labels meant.  “They’ve been donated to the festivals by the different breweries and are free”.  The ex-student ears of mine pricked up and the palm of my hand seemed to close and tighten after hearing that word. As I’m sure we will all agree, if there’s one thing that makes a good beer taste better, it’s when it doesn’t cost you anything.

So, after a third of Blue Monkey’s dark and fruity mild “99 red baboons,” I went on the search for beers seldom seen to Sheffield. One such beer was “Bramling Porter” from the newly founded Instant Karma brewery, great to see they’re up and running. Next was glass of “Black Rose Stout” a ginger and chocolate dark drop by Middle Earth brewery who’s triple hopped “Mount Doom” IPA was sadly not ready.

After refuelling with a bag of Piper’s crisps, whose free samples the attendees were decimating, I decided I’d had enough dark beers so went in search of some pales. Crafty’s “Sauvignon Blonde” was my first, pale and full of a citrus zing; it had drinkers smacking their lips after every sip.  A recommendation from the lads from Black Iris brewery, who’s beer was on excellent form, lead me to my favourite beer of the festival; “Beast” by Hopcraft brewery. A glorious 6.5% pale packed full of hops. I really want to see more of this brewery!

With an announcement over the PA system that the results were in, pockets of cheers rang out from the densely populated room as the winners of the categories were called out.  But then the room fell silent for the big announcement.  All eyes focused on the centre of the room in anticipation for who would be crowned Britain’s best Winter Ale 2014.  A man, stood in front of the announcer dressed as a King for no apparent reason, practicing his best poker face, merely added to the tension.

In third place was “Winter Glow” by Exe Valley; second was “Cairngorm” by Black Gold and first to “Dunham Porter” by Dunham Massey.

Cheers and applause filled the huge hall and amongst the chaos, we sadly lost one of our team who was kidnapped and subjected to a pub-crawl around Derby and a last train home. 

My last beer of the night was a half of the 10.5%  “High as a Kite” from Heart of Wales.  The last words of the night came from the volunteer serving my beer that stated, “You will be”.  If I were to meet this gentleman again, I’d be unable to state if I was or wasn’t as my memory got a little hazy from then on.

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Manchester Beer Festival

Manchester Beer Festival

 Greater Manchester CAMRA has continued CAMRA’s tradition of juxtaposing by placing their festival inside the impressive Manchester Velodrome.  The Velodrome’s “regulars” are the kind of people who have their eggs white and coffee black and wear Olympic gold medals around their necks whereas, most beer festival goers prefer their eggs deep fried and wrapped in sausage meat and bread crumbs, their coffee non existent and a golden ale down their necks.

 So, while most of us were polishing off our pints with intermittent dashes to the pie and mash stand all whilst complaining the walk to the toilets was too treacherous a journey, some of Great Britain’s finest physical specimens were hurtling themselves around the velodrome’s steeped banks on two wheels at a pace that hurt ones head to follow.  At least those keeping up with the action had a legitimate excuse for their dizziness, however.

 The festival boasted 300 cask ales from breweries all over the UK with the majority being pulled through a preferred hand pump and not under gravity.  Adding to this ample selection were 75 traditional ciders and perries and oodles of bottled and kegged beers from the world over. Oh, and a man selling hollowed cows horns to drink out of.

 Our night started with an “aif” sorry; an “aaarf “of our very own ”Brimstone”, Abbeydale’s sole beer at the festival.  This 3.9% russet brown beer is massively understated despite being full of flavours of coffee, toffee and liquorice while the US Amarillo hops add a spicey and citrus edge.  Beautifully conditioned and bright, it got a pass from quality control and we left the rest for others to enjoy.

 My first drink was of Marble Brewery’s “Ginger Marble”.  This has been a favourite of mine for a while and the golden beer still packs a fiery ginger punch.  Catching my eye was the pump next to Marble Ginger,  “Earl Grey IPA”.  This brilliant and heavily hopped 6% pale deservingly bagged Gold at the SIBA North West beer festival in 2013 in the premium strong bitter category.

 After a chin-wag with Michelle and the team from Offbeat brewery who were celebrating as their “Way off Wheat” came third overall in the competition, we went to find some of the new kids on the block and South Wales’ only micro-brewery; Tiny Rebel. 

 First up was a glass of their “F.U.B.A.R” which seems to be based on the North American craft ideology of pale beers with large amounts of aromatic hops.  This drop was washed down with “Dirty Stop Out” a smoky oat stout. I’ve got a feeling this brewery is one to watch…

 With an announcement that the dreaded “General Public” was en route, someone I can only assume from the fear on some faces is a ruthless army warlord, there was a mad rush for the bars.

 Upon reaching the front of the queue, I was informed it was my round and that I was to go to order a “Shaft Bender”.  Not being wet behind the ears, I was utterly convinced this was the real ale equivalent of asking the general laborer at a building site to go to the B&Q and buy some “tartan paint and a pot of elbow grease”.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  “Shaftbender” from Saddleworth brewery based in Oldham was just what it said in the program: very dark, rich and dry.

 Macclesfield based Red Willow brewery’s chocolate stout “Heartless” was the last drink of the night.  Dark and delicious, it was a fantastic beer to finish on.

 Slowly walking out the hall, faster than a cannonball we made our way to Piccadilly, under the Pennines and home.


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Absolution wins 1st prize at Northwich Beer Festival

Absolution wins 1st prize at Northwich Beer Festival

The annual Northwich Beer Festival, the joint venture between North Cheshire CAMRA and the Northwich and Northwich Vale Royal Rotary clubs, took place over the weekend of the 20th September 2013.  This year saw the festival take place at Winnington Park Recreational Club providing drinkers with a whopping choice of 40 different ales from all corners of England. One of these ales was our very own “Absolution” which to our delight, romped home to take 1st prize in the competition!

Members of North Cheshire CAMRA who combined their visit with a real ale pub-crawl around Sheffield presented the award to us at The Rising Sun on Saturday the 16th November.

Further information on the festival including pictures and final beer list can be found on 


Absolution Award

It’s fantastic to see that beers from our core range still pick up awards. Absolution is one of the first beers ever made at Abbeydale and the recipe has changed very little over the years. Thank you North Cheshire CAMRA!

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Steel City Beer Festival 2013

Every year when the weather worsens and the temperature plummets to just above freezing, we ale enthusiasts make a pilgrimage towards Ponds forge for the Steel City Beer and Cider festival, this year making its 39th appearance.

It’s a strange experience to say the least, witnessing the transformation from a sports hall usually filled with people fit and of fine fettle, to an alluring ale haven of liquid solace.  

The hall is certainly no place for the indecisive.  With over 150 real ales, ciders and perries to choose from, Sheffield CAMRA certainly made sure that there was no spitting of feathers.

My night began with Chantry Brewery’s delicious dark drop “Diamond Black”, a 4.5% stout recommended by Chantry’s loquacious leader, Sean Page.  This delectable dram set the theme for the night, as many a stout and porter was downed from here on.  Next was a glass of the 4.3% Oat Stout by the Brew Company.  Having always been a fan of their Anvil Porter, I know this team can really deliver in all that is dark. Full bodied and full of flavour, their voluptuous stout did not disappoint. 

The next tipple to satisfy my senses was a pint of the provocative “Black Jesus” by Great Heck brewery.  This monster of a beer is packed full of hops and dark malt and at 6.5%, delivers this unique flavour with thunderous thwack.

Moving my way meticulously around the bar, my next measure was the marvellous Black Rat Porter.  Although I must say this Porter is not a scratch on Rat Brewery’s sublime stout; “Ratsputin”, it’s slight sweetness gave the beer what the French call a certain…I don’t know what. As a college of mine so eloquently put it; "Reyt nice, that".

Next up was a Vanilla Stout. This seemed to divide the team into two halves; those who thought it was a superb sup, and those who like me, thought the vanilla actually took something away from the wonderfully smooth dark beer. However, whatever the belief, it didn’t stop me drinking a pints worth.

With a quick fuel stop of pasty and chocolate, a successful go on the tombola and a quick conversation with the Abbeydale team about what was hot and what was not, a few of us were selected to take part in the beer tasting. As the tasting was blind, I simply can’t comment about which beers were good or not. But I can say some were fantastic. 

Sat around the table with an eclectic mix of ale fans: some landlords, managers, brewers, camra members, it was interesting to hear everyone talk about their journey to the love of real ale.  We were also so immersed in conversation, we nearly missed the results of the festival. 

The Brew Company’s “Crazy horse IPA” won champion beer of the festival, with Sheffield Brewery’s "Sheffield Porter" coming in 2nd.  Joint third came "Farmers Blonde" by Bradfield brewery, tied with our very own "Black Mass". It was a great result. In the short time I’ve been working at Abbeydale, the brewery has expanded time and time again. I must say as not only a worker, but a genuine fan of Abbeydale beers, that it is results like this that prove, to me at least, that with expansion we have not sacrificed quality!


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Sunfest 2013: An Introduction To The Beers

Sunfest 2013: An Introduction To The Beers

I set out to source from a greater number of breweries this year. This means that many feature one beer, two should the criteria fit – new breweries / new beers (or at least new to us!). New breweries we have managed to pin down for a cask include; Mouslow Farm, Hamelsworde, Healey’s,Newark, Tiny Rebel, VIP, Talke O’Th’ Hill & Betjeman Brewery not to mention our new local breweries; Dronfield, Harthill VIllage, Toolmakers and On The Edge. Big thank yous go to Stu at North Riding Brewery for making us a special brew, a beer appropriately named Seventh Sun 4.0%, and also to Dave at Raw and Mark at Townhouse for sourcing beers for us.

For all you beer spotters out there, it may be good to know that all the  beers selected are not souped-up, dry-hopped/blended, one-off festival specials concocted from existing brews. Each cask beer at the festival has been made in a batch or been on sale/will be on sale in the general trade. Actually, that’s not entirely true of the Abbeydales. The Milk Stout – we’re trying something there! Let us know what you think. Well it’s our festival and we’re allowed to play.

Back to this Milk Stout of ours at 5.0%. This beer style is something we have wanted to do for a long time. A few of these were sampled (just to make sure) at Rotherham CAMRA Real Ale and Music Festival at Magna (takes place in February each year, plug) and it was so good we decided to trial it and what better place to trial it than here at our beer festival.

It is also worth noting that I massively over ordered (oops!) and the extra beers will be on sale in the pub throughout the coming weeks. So please come back after the festival for more beers from many of these breweries. Join YourRound and get emailed / texted / tweeted when they come on the bar.

Let’s also not forget the large selection of speciality beers available. From fruit, ginger and chocolate beers to spiced and wheat beers. They can be found in the Sunfest programme with a red box around the beer colour identifying them as extra special. For you newcomers out there, this is not to be confused with beer flavours. Beers are often described as tasting of something e.g. raisins or burnt toast. This flavour is obtained by carefully selecting the barley and roast type. This is not ‘Speciality’ (although special and yummy it may be) unless it had actually had burnt toast in the brew – if that floats your boat! Similarly a beer can be described as tasting of mango or grapefruit. These flavour compounds are found in certain hops, if added in sufficient quantity. To summarise, it’s "speciality" (red box) if the beer has something other than the four main ingredients; Water, yeast, hops and barley. We also identified a couple of beers which definitely did not use isinglass finings and marked these with a V. (others may not, but we’re not sure). Some vegans will know what we mean, the rest of you, don’t worry about it.

The craft keg beer bar is back again this year featuring some of the well-known micro brewery kegger’s out there. We have ten different beers here but are restricted to serving six at a time. We have given it a go, kegging some of our Ascension 6.0% on dry hops to compensate for the beer being served at a lower temperature than was initially intended for a cask product, if that makes sense?

Hopefully there will be something here for everyone. Enjoy the festival! 

Dan Baxter

PS This year we have  added a few favourite beer (and cider) quotes  to the programme and would love to hear any particular beer quotes that have stuck in your mind. If you are a tweeter, Facebooker or emailer, send us in your favourites. Be it comical, factual or historical. I’ve always liked:
    "I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s
            as good as they’re going to feel all day."                         ~ Frank Sinatra

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Tramlines Ale Launch Party

Tramlines Ale Launch Party


The "Tramlines" beer launch night started as you may expect any other Thursday to start in Sheffield; with intermittent downpours of Biblical proportion. We lucky few escaped the deluge and were pleasantly serenaded by a few of Sheffield’s sprites under the roof of one of the steel cities’ favourite institutions; The Harley. 

The launch began with an explanation to the uninitiated on how this years beer would be chosen. Simply; we would be given the choice to vote for one of two different beers and the favourite would be put into production for the attendees of Sheffield’s "Tramlines" festival to enjoy.   

After the excitable murmur of how retro the vinyl stamped pump-clips looked was brought to a simmer, it was time to get down to the beers themselves.   

It was a pleasure to witness the ignition of senses by our beers, as it’s praises were sung by those whose taste buds were tantalized. A spectacle that humbles any hard working brewer.   

The Golden "Tramlines 1" got my vote. The wonderfully subtle toffee flavour coming from the cara-malt seemed to be balanced beautifully with the US Cascade hops which both resonated harmoniously with my pallet.

However, it seemed that the paler, Galaxy hopped "Tramlines 2" made more of an impression in the Harley. With it’s tropical notes and citrus edge paraded around the place, I got the impression this may be crowned the victor. 

If this is true, it affirms Sheffield’s insatiable appetite for pale hoppy beers. Good news for us at Abbeydale!


  • 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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