In early March 2020, I visited the 3rd edition of Indie Beer Feast (IBF), the kick-start to Sheffield Beer Week. This was an excellent afternoon at the 1920s, Grade II listed Abbeydale Picture House: the only Beer Festival venue with spider plants in the toilets.
The 2021 4th edition was cancelled and my advance ticket then saw two postponements and a change of venue. The next IBF finally took place in March 2022 at Trafalgar Warehouse, a whitewashed ex-industry space – unfortunately, after two years of careful avoidance, Covid caused me to miss the event……..
Finally, three years after my last visit, 2023, saw a welcome re-acquaintance with IBF. There were no spider plants. However, a new distinctive glass, the 20 Fl.Oz. Barley, greeted the wide beer range provided by the various brewery bars: some cask, mostly keg, but all interesting.
The available beers covered a large variety of beer styles: the Redwillow range of Saisons, a 15.2% barley wine from Little Earth Project and many more.
Included were pop-up tastings. Les O’Grady from the Magull-based Brewery, Neptune, led a session on Friday afternoon: all Neptune beers are vegan, there is no forced carbonation. Hence, all their beers are classed as real ale. The brewery is currently a team of seven, with a projected expansion to nine.
Their ‘Lost at Sea,’ 6.2% IPA was sampled. This was originally a lock/down collaboration with Lost and Grounded. It utilises Golden Promise and crystal malt, Challenger hops in the boil and is dry-hopped with Centennial, Columbus, Simco and Brava hops. Les also commented that Brexit has killed off possible overseas sales.
Trafalgar works was originally built in the late 19th century as a medium sized integrated factory for the production of edge tools, and later cutlery and blades. It was then part of the larger Trafalgar grinding wheel complex.
Yet again, IBF proved a positive start for Sheffield Beer Week: lots of innovative variety in, for myself, a new venue.