Author: Malin Norman
Known for its steel production in the 19th century, Sheffield has developed into quite the destination for beer lovers. Some even believe it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the beer world.
When I went to Sheffield for the first time some years ago, I had no idea that this was the real ale capital of the world. Well, at least according to the Beer Report, commissioned by the University of Sheffield in 2016. It claims that Sheffield is the world’s best beer city with one brewery for every 23,991 people (4.7 times more than London) and around 400 different, unique beers available in its pubs on a typical day. Best beer city or not, Sheffield certainly has a lot to offer beer enthusiasts.
A great place to start exploring the beer scene is independent beer shop Hop Hideout, owned by fellow beer writer and beer judge Jules Gray. She is also the organiser of beer celebration Sheffield Beer Week and Sheffield’s own craft beer festival Indie Beer Feast. When visiting the amazing beer shop, try some of the local brews and have a chat about anything beer-related, and don’t forget to ask Jules where to head next. You can also discover the city’s many watering holes by following one of the recommended Pub Trails in the city centre or further afield.
Check out this trio of breweries, from old to new:
Kelham Island Brewery: set up in 1990 in the beer garden of The Fat Cat pub, this was the first new independent brewery in Sheffield in almost 100 years. A must is of course the Pale Rider (5.2%), which won gold in the Supreme Champion category at the Champion Beer of Britain Awards 2004.
Abbeydale Brewery: founded in 1996 and based in the Antiques Quarter. Moonshine (4.3%) is Abbeydale’s most famous beer and has been in production since 1996. The well-balanced pale ale has won several awards including bronze at the Champion Beer of Britain Awards 2018.
Triple Point Brewing: one of the city’s newest additions, focusing mostly on brewing lagers but also other beers. Try New World Triple (9.3%) and Helles Session Lager (4.1%), which won silver and bronze respectively at the regional section of the SIBA Digital Beer Awards 2020.
And don’t miss these fabulous pubs:
The Fat Cat: iconic pub located in the heart of Kelham Island and the birthplace for the above-mentioned Kelham Island Brewery. Known for its quality real ales, traditional and cosy pub atmosphere and industrial setting.
The Bath Hotel: grade II-listed corner pub dating back to 1867, one of Sheffield’s hidden gems. Under the stewardship of Thornbridge Brewery, the snug triangular bar is serving Thornbridge’s own beers and brews from other great British breweries.
Sheffield Tap: station bar at the railway station, with beautiful Edwardian glazed tiles and polished wood. Offers traditional real ales and keg beers, bottles and cans. Also has an on-site brewery located in the original first class dining room, Tapped Brew Co.
This is just a start, there is more to discover! And if you are interested in pub history, make sure to take a look at CAMRA’s book Sheffield’s Real Heritage Pubs: Pub Interiors of Historic Interest.
Pictures: Kelham Island Brewery; The Fat Cat; Sheffield Tap