The 40th Steel City Beer and Cider festival which was held over the Halloween weekend was a roaring success with over 13,000 pints of beer and 1000 pints of cider supped by 4500 discerning drinkers. This far exceeded the 2700 that attended Ponds Forge last year and required 25% more beer and cider to be brought in at short notice to satisfy the thirsty drinkers. In fact the festival was such a success that the number of attendees on the Saturday evening had to be limited to ensure there was still been left until the end for those already inside. Even that didn’t work as the festival closed an hour early.
This year saw a new venue with the festival moving to Kelham Island Museum at the heart of the Valley of Beer, the Beer Capital’s spiritual home of real ale. The new venue provided an atmospheric setting to celebrate Sheffield and District Branch’s Ruby Anniversary festival. Over 150 different beers from over 50 breweries were available over the weekend along with a range of international bottled beer and traditional cider and perry. Full use of the industrial nature of the venue was made with the beer being split over three bars including the museums own pub, The Millowners, brought to life for the weekend as a proper boozer. In addition the upper hall and a marquee by the river each provided their own unique atmosphere to suit all tastes.
Fittingly for the new venue the festival was opened on the Wednesday evening by the Master Cutler, Mr David Grey MBE, with the festival charity this year being Master Cutlers Challenger whose nomination is the Brathay Trust who have a mission to improve the life chances of children and young people.
Evening entertainment during the week was provided by the Amelia Carter Band, Soulfaces and Do$ch. Loxley Silver Band brought Saturday afternoon to life going down a storm. Mopping up the beer was a range of food including hog roast, cheese, black pudding, hotdogs (up to 20”), jacket potatoes, chocolate and crisps. Fancy dress Friday this year was brought to life by a horrific range of costumes to celebrate Halloween. A charity quiz was also held to challenge the little grey cells.
The first night saw an exhaustive beer tasting of all the beers on sale by brewers, landlords, seasoned drinkers and other hangers on. The final panel saw Cocoa Wonderland from Thornbridge Brewery declared overall champion of the festival. This wonderful ruby, brown 6.8% porter that oozes chocolate from every quarter really deserves the title.
Thanks go to all the sponsors who have kindly supported the beer festival and to Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, whose staff worked tirelessly alongside us, without who the festival would not have been the success it was. Thanks must also go to the brewers, many local, who are producing an amazing array of good quality beer. Some went out of their way to ensure that we still had beer available for sale on the Saturday.
Thanks also to the customers who almost drank the festival dry, we hope you return next year to a bigger festival with much more beer.
Final thanks must go to the volunteers without whose tireless work putting in up to 16 hour days there would be no festival. Some have been busy over the last 12 months organising the festival to ensure it was an amazing success. A very special thanks go to the volunteers who turned up on the Sunday and Monday to help with take down.
2015, a bigger and better festival
Following the success of this year’s festival thoughts now turn to how to make next year’s even better. Obviously more beer is required but that is only the start. The organising committee will be meeting soon to reflect on what went well and what went wrong and work out how to improve the festival next year. Like all CAMRA beer festival the organisation is completely carried out by volunteers and yes we sometimes get things wrong but the feedback from this year’s beer festival has been overwhelmingly positive. Next year we promise it will be better.
However we always need more help. If you think you may have skills that could be useful, either working or managing a bar, social media, health and safety, site, marketing, selling sponsorship or even if you don’t think you have anything special to offer but want to help please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, all help is much appreciated however small. If you feel like you could promote your business through sponsoring the beer festival then also please get in touch.
We hope to announce dates for the 41st Steel City Beer and Cider festival early in the New Year, so get it in your diary early.
Cheers, Rob Carroll
Chairman of the 40th Steel City Beer and Cider Festival Organising Committee
Beer of the Festival Winners
1st Thornbridge Cocoa Wonderland
2nd Fernandes Half Nelson
3rd Rat Ratweiller