Best of the Fest

The recent Steel City Beer & Cider Festival, which for the fourth year in a row was held at the Kelham Island Museum, proved as popular as ever. More than 6,100 visitors attended over the four days, between them drinking over 14,500 pints of cask ale, 2,300 pints of cider and perry, 1,400 pints of cask-conditioned key keg beer (a complete sell-out) and 566 bottles and cans from the international section. Our membership stand saw 93 new members join CAMRA, a record for the Steel City Festival.

As always, the festival was completely organised and staffed by volunteers, who very kindly gave up their time to ensure that the festival went as smoothly as possible. As a thank-you, a day trip to York was arranged for the volunteers; photos from this will appear in the next issue of Beer Matters.

The volunteers’ work began on the Monday of festival week, with two days of frantically constructing stillages, bars and stalls and then positioning, venting and tapping all of the beers and ciders. This year, we had 227 cask ales, 46 ciders and perries, 36 key keg beers and 22 different cans and bottles.

Wednesday evening, the opening night of the festival, was a real who’s who of the Sheffield beer scene, as representatives from many of our local breweries and pubs paid us a visit. The evening also saw the judging panels select their beers of the festival; the overall gold award was bestowed on Weird Beard’s Curse of the Ryeclops (7.5% rye IPA), with silver and bronze going to Blue Bee’s Ginger Beer (4.5% pale ale with added ginger) and North Riding Brew Pub’s Doomguy (6.2% chocolate orange porter) respectively. Seven local brewers won awards in the categories, including Sheffield Brewery’s Crucible Best (3.8%), which took gold in the Bitter category.

The Friday evening session is traditionally fancy-dress night, and this year a number of volunteers got into the spirit of things, working their shifts in an array of Victorian attire.

Drinkers were treated to plenty of entertainment, if not the best of weather, with live music provided by Do$ch, J&M Select, The Beat Merchants, Highway Child, Vegas 6 and the traditional Saturday afternoon performance from the Loxley Silver Band. Visitors could also experience the immense River Don Steam Engine in operation at various times during the festival.

Our chosen charity this year was the Weston Park Cancer Charity, and proceeds from the quiz, collection buckets and donations of unused beer tokens added up to a total of £1,300, which has now been donated and very gratefully received.

We must say thank-you, of course, to all of our sponsors who made the festival possible, especially to our main sponsors; Bradfield Brewery, who again sponsored the pint glasses and the Millowners Arms; SkyBet for sponsoring the half-pint glasses and Neepsend Brewery and Wetherspoons for sponsoring the volunteers’ t-shirts.

We hope that everyone who came to the festival had a great time, and whether you made it or not we hope to see you all next year!

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