Almost twenty years ago, Communications Engineers, Jamie Hawksworth and Jon Holdsworth established a specialist beer importing wholesale business, based in York: Pivovar, breweries/brewers in Slavic.
As part of their day job, they later found themselves on a roof at Sheffield railway station, adjacent to platform 1b. Looking down, into a semi-derelict building, they were convinced they could see a bar. Further investigation followed: the old First Class Refreshment Room was originally built by the Midland Railway (company architect, Charles Trubshaw) as part of the 1905 station extension. The rooms were disused in the 1960s, by the 1970s were a waiting room and were closed in 1975. They are adorned with Minton tiled walls and fine ornamented bar fittings.
Jamie and Jon suddenly had a new job. Restorations began and in 2009, the Sheffield Tap, the award-winning and undisputed best railway pub in the UK, opened. This followed a £180,000 multiple award-winning comprehensive overhaul in which the tiling, terrazzo floor, parts of the bar fittings and other joinery were beautifully restored, while items beyond repair were carefully replaced or replicated, including the entire coved and sky-lighted ceiling.
The next decade saw a hive of activity as Pivovar added new outlets: the York Tap (2010), the Harrogate Tap and Tapped Leeds (2013), Pavement Vaults (York, 2015) and the Newcastle Tap (2017). They also became partners in the bar group Thornbridge and Co. with outlets in Birmingham (Colmore), Leeds (Banker’s Cat) and York (Market Cat).
However, the key development was the 2013 extension of their flagship: the Sheffield Tap expanded into the former First Class Dining Room. The tiled and mirrored interior was restored and an on-site brewery, Tapped Brew Co. began brewing in January 2013. This 4 Bbl. set-up was a 2008 PBC Brewing Installations kit which re-located from Great Heck Brewery when they moved site.
Like many others, Head Brewer, Ben Tysoe, commenced his career working for Dave Wickett at Kelham Island Brewery, adjacent to the legendary Fat Cat. Aged 16, he was shifting and carrying, bottling and labelling. Three years later, in 2001, he moved to the new Kelham Island venture at the Devonshire Cat. By 2003, his name was above the door as one of the youngest pub managers in the city. 2011 saw changes: travelling, stints working at the Great British Beer Festival and more employment in breweries. Two years later came employment with Pivovar: accounts, deliveries, bar management, and by 2018 work in the brewery. Two years ago saw the seminal move to the First Class Dining Room.
In addition to the Sheffield brewery, Ben also uses the microbrewery at Tapped Leeds to produce pilsners while, in 2020, Pivovar established the Elvington Brewing Company at their York headquarters. The latter produces Mittel Pils, the recent winner of overall best keg lager, at the International Brewing awards.
Back in Sheffield, the all-cask output is sold onsite and at other Pivovar outlets. Tapped beers are occasionally seen in the free trade. The regular range is:
Mojo – the first beer brewed, a 3.6% Pale Ale
Toha – a 3.6% Pale Ale using New Zealand hops
Jericho – a 4% West Coast Pale Ale
Sorsby Stout – 4%, named after Sir Robert Sorsby (1577/1643), the first Master Cutler.
Sheaf Street Pale – a 4.5% session IPA
Station Porter – a rich dark 5% brew featuring chocolate malt
Tapped are currently looking to the future: some minor rebranding coupled with an increased emphasis on collaborations, one-offs and pilot brews. With experienced, enthusiastic and knowledgeable input from Ben, we anticipate hearing many positive reports.