The 44th Steel City Beer & Cider Festival, held a little earlier than usual over the second weekend of October, was a huge success with more than 6,000 discerning drinkers descending on the Kelham Island Museum over the four days.
Between them, visitors drank their way through more than 15,000 pints of cask ale; 1,600 pints of KeyKeg beer, 2,400 pints of cider and perry; and 437 bottled and canned international beers. We also signed up 96 new members, a new SCBF record surpassing last year’s 93.
Our fifth year at Kelham Island continued to be successful with punters, with steady crowds turning up from around the country to experience the historic venue. The weather was definitely on our side too, with dry weather throughout apart from a few showers early on Friday afternoon.
We began the festival with 222 different cask ales, 41 KeyKeg beers, a range of 48 ciders and perries and 22 varieties of international beers. Credit must go to the orderers, who once again ordered a superb selection of beers and ciders across the whole range of styles. The KeyKeg bar was completely sold out by Friday evening, and come the close of the festival at 10pm on Saturday there were only a handful of casks with anything left in them!
After a few days spent setting everything up, the festival was officially opened on Wednesday evening by Ben and Tracey from this year’s official charity, Roundabout, who help Sheffield’s homeless young people. With our collection buckets and donated tokens throughout the weekend, we are hoping to have raised around £1,500 for the charity – to be confirmed in the next edition of Beer Matters.
Entertainment throughout the week was provided by the Steve French Band, James Taplin & Mick Holmes, Highway Child and rounded off on the Saturday night by Gamsu. The ever-popular Loxley Silver Band played their usual Saturday afternoon slot, and the Kelham Island Rapper roused the crowds with their nimble sword dancing routine. Of course, we shouldn’t forget Mike’s pub games in the marquee throughout the week too.
This year’s food also seemed to go down well with visitors, with vendors from previous years such as Sunshine Pizza Oven and Yuley’s Bratwurst joined by popular new stalls the Dilla Deli and Sheffield’s own South Street Food. Upstairs, Oddfellows provided the chocolate once again, while Cowley’s Fine Foods added something a little different with his range of meat and vegan jerkies. Kevin’s Pies had a very successful first festival, so much so that he completely sold out – we’ll make sure he bakes a few more next year!
One of the major events at our festival is the beer judging which takes place on the Wednesday. We did things a little differently this year, with each of the breweries from within our branch region submitting a beer for consideration in the Champion Beer of Sheffield competition. We also had Visitors’ Choice awards for the customers’ favourite ales and ciders over the four days, which were announced on Saturday afternoon.
Champion Beer of Sheffield
1st: Little Critters – Nutty Ambassador
2nd: Neepsend – Appaloosa IPA
3rd: Eyam – Mompesson’s Calling
Visitors’ Choice Beer
1st: Thornbridge – Strawberry Lucaria
2nd: Little Critters – Nutty Ambassador
3rd: Neepsend – Mentha
Visitors’ Choice Cider
1st: Snails Bank – Rhubarb
2nd: Thistly Cross – Traditional
3rd: Thistly Cross – Elderflower
Thanks to everybody who came down and supported us during the week: the brewers who provided the most important ingredient, beer; the customers who came and drank most of it; the local businesses who sponsored glasses, bars, programmes and more; and of course, the volunteers who made it possible. We’ll be announcing the dates of the next festival early in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled!