I was recently invited by Mark Simmonite down to his new venture, Dead Parrot Brewery, to have a look around, learn about their plans and try the beer.
The brewery is located on Garden Street, not far from Fagan’s, the Three Tuns and Butlers Balti. It is surrounded by construction sites with new blocks of student apartments going up in a complex that was previously home to Sheffield City Council Parking Services.
Dead Parrot’s brewing kit is mostly what was installed at Mark’s previous venture, The Brewhouse and Henry’s, which never quite got up and running as Aardvark Brewery. However, there are also some long defunct bits from the cellar of the Frog & Parrot on Division Street (managed by Mark’s brother Nick), which used to be infamous for its very strong malt extract brew Roger & Out. When Greene King bought the pub they closed the brewery on health and safety grounds.
The brewery building is a long thin one with two rooms: the main brewing room and a cold room where the cask store and conditioning tanks are located. For the first year or so Dead Parrot will be concentrating on brewing and selling beer. Once that core function is on a solid foundation then phase two is to refurbish their other building in the complex and open a brewery tap room. The idea is that bar will be open every weekend to come and enjoy the beer at source plus about four times a year they will hold special events such as beer festivals with music in the courtyard.
The first beer to appear on the bars of Sheffield – including the Green Room and Frog & Parrot, amongst others – was Aurornis Xui, named after a bird-like dinosaur which is obviously long since extinct. It is a 4.6% ABV ale brewed with Citra, Simcoe and Pearle hops bringing plenty of flavor but balanced with a strong malt character that you’d expect in a traditional best bitter, I guess kind of like an American red ale.
Also tried at the brewery was Bohemia at a very sessionable 3.7% ABV, described as a Pilsen Blonde brewed with Mosaic and Pearle hops, designed to be easy drinking and refreshing like a lager but with enough flavour and bitterness from the hops to keep an ale drinker happy.
Still in the fermenter at the time of my visit was the third beer to be brewed, a stout. Currently they are building up a portfolio of core beers that sell well before then having a little more fun brewing an ongoing series of interesting one-off specials – they are very keen to have a go at brewing a sour at some point!
It looks like Dead Parrot will be one to keep an eye on and they have some quite exciting plans. If you spot one of their beers at a pub or festival give it a try and see what you think, you can follow their developments on Instagram and Twitter @DeadParrotBeer.