Abbeydale Brewery has been nominated to be Pub People Company’s brewery of the month throughout February 2014. "The Pub People Company are one of the top 50 pub operators in the UK and own an established estate of high quality food and drink pubs in and around Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield and Lincoln."
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!
It’s no secret that here at Abbeydale we don’t shy away from hops. Those of you who have seen my short video blog showing off our hop back in "Abbeydale Brewery We Love Hops" will see how we try our utmost to get all the essential hop oils and good stuff out of them.
I personally have always said "Wherever you can grow good wine grapes, you’ll grow good hops" and while I still think this is true we don’t want our drinkers to overlook the fabulous range of home-grown little green gems on our doorstep. Of course when I say doorstep, I really mean the UK in general. There are over 20 different varieties to choose from and with such a wide spectrum of beautiful flavours why wouldn’t you!? Achievable characteristics commonly found in our native hops include: Citrus (well what else!), spice, pepper, grapefruit, tangerine, marmalade, mint and in some cases apricot and blackcurrant.
It is with this in mind we have decided to jump on the Charles Faram Well Hopped Campaign and aid them in showcasing exactly what our English hops can do. We have decided to run with Dr. Morton’s Four Yorkshiremen of the Apocalypse and packed it with East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Bramling Cross hops and – in true Dr. Morton style – each in suitably large quantities! Since we are so proud, we will be flying the flag and showing off the British Hop Association’s logo on our pump clip publishing the fact that this beer has been brewed with love as standard but also with 100% British hops. This 5.0% ABV monster will be on sale from Monday the 4th November 2013 and for the pump clip collectors out there, it will be the first pump clip to date with a collaborative logo on it.
For further information on British hops (including some pretty pictures), log on to britishhops.org.uk
Full tasting note: "An assertive English Pale Ale packed full of wonderful, juicy English hops. Mainly East Kent Goldings, Challenger and Bramling Cross and in abundant quantities. Flying the flag for our native hops. Offering sweet lavender, thyme and cedar- like aromas. Whilst berry fruit freshness like Loganberry and Blackcurrant come through, there is also a more-ish honey-like undertone. It’s also reit nice an that! "
Happy Birthday to the guys at Now Then magazine Sheffield (and now Manchester).
To celebrate, they asked us to do a beer for them…again.
When you start serving this beer OR purchase a pint of it, please tweet @AbbeydaleBeers or @NowThenMag using the hashtag #nowthen5, or email [email protected]. Any stories you wish to share – let us know where you are, who you are and most importantly what you think cos we think it’s right good. Cheers!
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.
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!