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Hopping down to Hereford

Hopping down to Hereford

Early September brings one of the treats of the brewers’ calendar, a trip to the Hop Walk organized by hop merchants Charles Faram. This year the location was Pridewood Farm, Ashperton, Herefordshire. Hops have been grown there since the 19th century and the Powell-Tuck family have been continuing this tradition for almost 20 years.

There were over 300 UK brewers there to participate in a day of learning more about hop growing and harvesting and to listen to various experts giving updates on state of the hop harvest around the world and the effect on price and availability of this essential brewing ingredient.

Alongside all of this there was of course, the chance to sample some beer – not too much for me, I was driving the van but Patrick took good advantage. This year featured pairs of beers  brewed in the conventional way but with one firkin with of hop oils added. This may be a way in future of making hops go further by extracting the oils and adding those to beer rather than using whole hops or pelleted hops. Of course this stimulated much debate between traditionalists and those who see this as a way forward. I am sure it is a debate we will hear more of if the growth in small brewers continues to outstrip the planting of hops.

This year Abbeydale decided to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain some hops straight from the field and make a “green hop” beer. (The downside of this was having to drive rather than catch the train). Normally hops, once separated from the bine (stalk and leaves), are dried gently. This stabilizes them so they can be packed and stored for quite long periods so they can be transported and used thoughout the coming year or so. Green hops are taken from the field, separated and then put into sacks. They then need to make their way into beer within hours or, like any vegetable matter they will start to rot and compost.

Because the hops are not dried we needed eight times as much in weight, so at the end of the day we loaded up our van with 100kg of freshly harvested Early Goldings hops and in less than 24 hours they were in the beer. Indeed one of the main challenges was fitting them into the hop back!

Making a green hop beer is such a special thing – a sort of brewery harvest celebration – that we wanted to make a big thing of it. We have wanted for some time to do a series of beers featuring English hops, our Albion Ale series, so what better way to launch them than to start with this green hop beer. It will be called Scepter’d Ale, ABV 4.1% and in fermenter it is tasting very soft, floral and sweet. Final flavours have yet to develop, but with no dark or crystal malts to hide the hops, this should be one lovely beer.

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Craft Beer At Its Finest – #OldAle

Craft Beer At Its Finest - #OldAle

We haven’t blogged about any beer for a while, so WOODn’t you like to know what we have been up to recently? Well the observant amongst you may have spotted a wooden cask in the bottle room of the Dev Cat recently, or perhaps you tried one of the two on offer at SunFest, and it is our first foray into experimenting with wooden casks.  We have bought some old whisky firkins which we have filled with both Absolution and Black Lurcher, and the whisky flavours have really come through and added something extra to these beers. 

That got us thinking about ageing some of our beers at the brewery in wooden casks, so we ordered some 225L (approx 50 gallons/400 pints) White Burgundy oak casks.  When any drink spends time maturing in wooden casks, the liquid reacts with the wood and there is an imparting of flavour. The colour of whisky comes from the wood* (it is a perfectly clear liquor when first distilled), and it will pick up flavour profiles (if the barrel is being re-used) from the previous contents, i.e. if you age something in a sherry cask, you will impart some sherry flavours. 

So onto our beer, we have selected Old Ale, our take on an Old English Ale, strong (7.2% ABV), mid brown and full bodied, with a fairly sweet alcohol finish, to be our first try.  And while we could have just put it into the wood and see what happens, we thought that wood be a little boring, so we have livened things up somewhat! So into each cask before filling, we added a bag of Jack Daniels wood chips (available from a well known DIY retailer, other wood chips are available!), a good dollop of top quality maple syrup and a big handful of the finest Galaxy hops from Australia.  The beer was then poured in and after sealing each cask, we have to twiddle our thumbs for three months to let the magic happen! 

Once that time is up, we are going to transfer the beer into our bright beer tank (maybe with some extra hops!) and then fill some of our shiny new 30L and 50L kegs. We will also be filling some casks with some unadulterated Old Ale, so we can compare and contrast.  


What wood you like to see us do next with our lovely wooden casks? Please comment below, email [email protected] or chip in on Facebook (…/AbbeydaleBrewery) or on Twitter (@AbbeydaleBeers)


*Some distilleries add caramel to the liquor to add extra colour depth.

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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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Abbeydale Brewery has taken the lease on the Devonshire Cat!

Abbeydale Brewery has taken the lease on the Devonshire Cat!


After a nail biting few months, it is our pleasure to announce that Abbeydale has taken over the lease on the Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street.  We are absolutely delighted to be part of this Sheffield landmark and will strive to maintain the Devonshire Cat’s tradition of quality cask ales, keg and bottled beers and great pub food.

For non-Sheffield residents who haven’t heard of the Devonshire Cat before, it has become something of legend and folklore for real ale enthusiasts in the Steel City since it first opened its doors back in 2001.  Situated in the heart of the Devonhire quarter, the "Dev Cat" as it’s affectionately known is based on a Belgian style beer cafe and home to over one hundred different bottled and twenty five draught beers, including twelve hand-pulled ales from the UK, Europe and beyond.  

It’s not only beer that the Devonshire Cat is famed for, however.  Head-chef Peter Lightfoot and the kitchen team have worked tirelessly to perfect a menu of top quality pub food or “snap” as it’s know in God’s own county. Old pub favourites and classics such as "Hop Smoked Salmon", "Beer Battered Cod and Chips" and "Steak and Ale Pie" as well as ever changing specials made with fresh, local and seasonal produce are always available from 11:30am – 8pm Monday to Saturday and until 6pm on Sunday.  

At first, we plan to change little adhering to the old motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. A few more of our beers shall be making an appearance on a regular basis, however: "Absolution," our beautifully fruity 5.3% pale shall be making a residency on the bar alongside our very own "Deception" which has been a favourite at the Dev Cat for some time.  Our traditional English ale “Daily Bread” shall be taking over as the house bitter and a couple of rotating ales from our Dr. Morton’s and specials range shall also show their faces every now an again.  The other hand pulls shall be showcasing an ever changing number of beers from Yorkshire and beyond as they always have.

In addition to new beers, a new and improved pub quiz shall be taking place every Monday from 9pm with the winners receiving a cash prize and runners up getting a gallon of ale.  To keep up to date with new beers, dishes and general goings on at the Devonshire Cat, please like their facebook page and follow on twitter, too!

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Abbeydale Brewery are Pub People Company’s Brewery of the Month

Abbeydale Brewery are Pub People Company's Brewery of the Month

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."

Visit their website for more details –


use their pub finder and hunt down the places near to you where you can find our award winning beers during the month of February –


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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!


  • 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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