Steel City 47 review

After last year’s successful post-covid return, we were looking forward to welcoming everyone to another great festival this year. Little did we know the weather would have other ideas. Here’s how it eventually worked out.


Set up went particularly well this year, thanks to a good number of enthusiastic and willing volunteers. Starting on Sunday morning, we rattled through setting up the racks and cooling system and by the end of Monday all the beers were in place and chilling ready for opening. Tuesday saw us finishing all the bars and signage, and by Wednesday at 5, with all the food stalls in place, we were open.


The Beer of The Festival, contested by all our local breweries, was again sponsored by our friends at Beer Central and judging began straight away. By 6.30 we were ready to announce the winners. Heist Brew Co. took Gold with their “The Bad Part Of Gnome Town”, a hazy session IPA, and one of their first attempts at a cask beer! Silver was a porter named Brook from Tapped Brew, (also the best pun of the evening) and Bronze was Little Critters’ Pecan and Maple Stout, Great Danish. Purity Brewing hosted a drop-in Q&A session and things were well underway, with everyone enjoying themselves and it seemed like we might top last year.


A slight change in the opening hours for this year meant we opened at 11.30 and we had a steady stream of visitors from the off. As usual Thursday afternoon saw a lot of beer tickers arrive to sample the best of what we had on the bars, and a number of works events also boosted numbers early evening. Mike from the Old Shoe ran a talk on cider and an excellent set from folk-rock band Kingfisher Blue rounded off the evening nicely. However, by this point we had already had the flood alert warning and were expecting the worst on Friday.


Rain! And more rain! When we arrived at 9 o clock the river was already quite high, and the management at Kelham Island Museum were planning hourly assessments to track the water levels. Unfortunately, late morning saw a directive from the Museum that we had to close. Everything that might get water damaged was either taken upstairs, or simply placed on top of the bars. The Museum even had to drive their two Sheffield-built early 20th century Simplex motor cars up to the upper Hall and park them in front of our stage. A disappointed festival committee trooped off home (after a quick pint in a local establishment of course) to follow the weather forecast and hope for the best for the following morning.


Fortunately water levels peaked early evening on Friday without there being any flooding at the Museum and after discussion with the Museum staff on Friday night we got the green light to open, albeit at a slightly later time to allow to put everything back in its correct place.

The weather then decided to improve steadily and, in the end, it was a great day. The River Don engine drew it’s usual admiring crowd; the Loxley Silver Band entertained everyone upstairs; the boys from Kelham Rapper did their sword dances anywhere there was space (however tight that might be!); St Mars of the Desert hosted a well-attended talk on their beers; and live music from Galloping Dick rocked the Upper Hall to finish. The volunteers did their best to reduce the beer surplus at the afterparty, aided by pizzas from Sunshine Pizza Co, and the festival drew to a close.


As always at the festival there is an amount of beer left which sadly has to be poured down the drain. As a result of Friday’s closure there was a lot more to dispose of this year, with an obvious effect on the festival’s finances. We’d like to say a thank you to Bradfield brewery, who kindly took back the unopened casks of their beer, and the Rutland Arms and Kelham Island Tavern, who bought the unopened kegs and cider boxes. And thanks to the volunteers who came and dismantled it all on Sunday. They did an incredible job and by 3 o clock we had everything cleared and back in storage.

Final verdict

Overall the festival was a great success on the days we were open, and had we been open on Friday we would no doubt have exceeded last year’s visitor numbers. We raised £1750 for the festival charity, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, thanks to generous donations of unused portions of beer cards, cash, and sales of a special beer from Abbeydale and MKM Building Supplies. Feedback was excellent, and we had several encouraging comments from new visitors, and also new volunteers, who are already looking forward to next year. Here’s to 2024 (and hopefully better weather!).

Festival feedback

By the time you’re reading this, our annual Beer Festival will be over and hopefully it’s been another great success.

The Festival Committee will be meeting in November to review how things went, and where we can make improvements for next year, and as part of that review we would love to receive feedback from visitors on anything related to the festival.

Opinions on the range of drinks; the food stalls; the live music; layout of the festival; the range of activities and events; the volunteers – we want to know what you think.

Please send any feedback to and I promise we’ll discuss it at our meeting.

If anyone wants to be more involved, either by attending the November meeting, or even becoming part of the committee for next year, please mention it in your email and we’ll contact you personally for an informal discussion, and probably buy you a pint while we’re at it!

Festival beer mats!

By the time this issue of Beer Matters hits the pubs, we will have started sending out our festival Beermats. As usual we have 12 different sponsors for the mats, each with their own design on one side, and a different festival design on the back. Collecting all 12 mats and fitting them together will form this year’s Festival poster, another excellent design from Robin Lunnon at Durb Design.

Our Beer Matters distributors will be taking the mats far and wide across the city, and beyond, so you might have to visit several pubs to collect them all. (I know. It’s a tough ask, but I’m sure you’ll cope.)

We’ll also be putting a few sets up on Ebay to auction off for the festival charity, which this year is the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Don’t worry if you don’t manage to complete your collection, as we’ll be holding back a hundred or so of each design to put out on the bars at the festival itself. Yet another reason to come and see us at Steel City Beer & Cider Festival 47, 18-21 October 2023, Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield

P.S. Our staffing form is now open on our website for anyone wishing to volunteer to help at this year’s festival. If you’ve never volunteered before but are considering it, simply email and we’ll let you know all about it. Trust us, you’ll enjoy it.

Our beer festival is back!

It’s coming up to that time of year again. After last year’s successful post-covid return, we’re back once again at the Kelham Island Museum to celebrate all the best in beer and cider.

We’ve chosen to keep a very similar layout to the festival to let everyone get used to the changes we introduced last time. The Millowners Arms is still independent and offering a wide variety of drinks; The keg bar will stay in its new position in the rear courtyard, accessed through the engine room; and the Bradfield bar will be in the Brearley room, on your right as soon as you enter the festival.

No change in the range of beer and cider on offer though! Over 200 beers including around 50 keg beers, over 40 real ciders and 2 bottle bars featuring continental beers. The Sheffield Beer of The Festival award will take place again on Wednesday evening.

One noticeable change this year will be our decision to switch from beer tokens to beer cards. These will be A6 cards featuring a set of 20p boxes which will be crossed off as you spend. A common sight at other festivals we have decided to move to these to speed up service at the bar.

We have our usual array of live acts, and a great variety of food stalls, with extended vegetarian and vegan offerings this year. In addition to this we have our ever-popular Tombola stall, traditional pub games and CAMRA merchandise desk selling books and t-shirts.

Our overall festival charity is Yorkshire Air Ambulance, who will be grateful for any of your unused beer tokens, or festival glass deposit.

Although we’re not sure you’ll want to hand your glass back! We are delighted to announce that Henderson’s Relish are again one of our glass sponsors. This year they are sponsoring the pint glasses, with Bradfield brewery sponsoring the half pint ones.

No article on the beer festival would be complete without a word of thanks to our dedicated and hard-working volunteers. Each year they arrive to set everything up, man the bars, run the various desks, do whatever needs doing to ensure the festival is the success it is, and then dismantle everything and put it back in to storage for next year. We cannot thank them enough for the time and effort they give. The festival simply would not happen without them. As a thank you, this year we are running a free staff trip to Lincoln, and as an extra reward for the Sunday take down volunteers we have a free buffet at the Gardeners Rest. If you fancy joining our happy band please visit our website to get more details on volunteering. We can guarantee that you’ll enjoy it more than you expected.

Don’t forget to look out for our festival beermats around the locals pubs. As we have done for the last few years, the festival side of the mats are all different and once you collect all 12 they fit together to form an image of the festival poster.

We can’t wait to welcome you all back once more.

Steel City Beer & Cider Festival, 18-21 October 2023, Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield.

Festival volunteers social

Volunteers from the 2022 Steel City Beer Festival had a summer get-together in the city recently. The day began with brewery tours courtesy of Triple Point Brewery and Heist Brew Co. Volunteers then set off from each brewery visiting a variety of pubs before all meeting up in the Kelham Island Tavern. Pubs visited included Rutland Arms, Sheffield Tap, Dorothy Pax, The Crow, Gardeners Rest, Alder Bar, Shakespeares and the Wellington, among others. A very enjoyable day, it gave everyone the chance to renew friendships made at the festival, and at last year’s volunteer’s trip to Halifax.

For anyone interested in volunteering for this year’s festival, the staffing form will be live on our website shortly.

Beer House S6

Sheffield’s first micro pub, the Beer House on Ecclesall Road, has now expanded across the city with a second bar on Langsett Road in Hillsborough, at the tram stop and just by the bus interchange.

After 6 months of planning and fitting out, the new bar finally opened at the end of May with owner John Harrison being pleased with it’s initial success. Serving from 6 cask lines and 11 keg taps there’s a great selection of beer, and food will be added shortly with a selection of pork pies and sausage rolls from local suppliers.

Opening hours are 12 till 11, seven days a week, so there’s plenty of opportunity to call in and try it out.

Beer House interior
Window seats
There are 6 handpumps on the bar offering 5 cask ales and a cider
Craft keg fonts at the Beer House
If you’re getting a City Centre bound tram, the Beer House and tram door lines up almost perfectly to walk straight into the bar!

Beer House 2

Our friends behind Sheffield’s first permanent Micropub, the Beerhouse on Ecclesall Road, are opening a new bar in Hillsborough. It’s been 6 months in preparation, but the aim is for a late May opening so they could already be trading by the time you read this!

Following the same style as the original, they will have a good range of well-kept beer featuring 6 cask lines and 5 keg, as well as “Yorkshire Tapas”, namely pork pies and sausage rolls!

A tie-in with the S6 foodbank will also help local people as well as fostering a community spirit within the pub.

Positioned by the Supertram stop opposite the old Hillsborough baths, the new Beerhouse S6 will become part of a rapidly-developing part of town. A number of interesting new bars and restaurants have opened in the last couple of years, making Hillsborough a great place for a night out.

We’ll have full report once they open.

Pub of the Year (North Sheffield)

The Gardener’s Rest on Neepsend Lane has been voted Pub of The Year for Sheffield North by the Sheffield & District branch of CAMRA. This is the third time this friendly well-run community-owned pub has won the award and in 2019 they were also Sheffield & District CAMRA’s overall Pub of The Year.

The pub has been through many changes in the last couple of decades. After extensive flood damage in 2007, the pub finally reopened in 2009, and steadily built back it’s reputation and customer base under the guidance of previous owner Eddy Munnelly, who sadly died earlier this year. A tribute to Eddy appears on the News page of the Sheffield CAMRA website.

A turning point in the Gardeners’ history came when Eddy decided to retire in 2016. Keen to keep the pub in all its glory, a group of regulars formed the Gardeners Rest Community Society and took over the running of it. A subsequent share issue saw nearly 400 investors raise enough money to buy the pub outright in 2017. As they say – “more than a pub, a community hub”.

8 handpulls on the bar serve a regularly changing line up of great real ales, as well as real ciders, often from small independent breweries and producers.

Regular live music has been a feature of the pub for some time, featuring local musicians as well as drop-in sessions for anyone who wants to join in. There are also occasional art exhibitions in the main bar; frequent beer festivals; a bar billiards table in the snug; and possibly the quirkiest beer garden in Sheffield.

We will be presenting the award on Tuesday 20th June at 9pm. Everyone is welcome to join us to celebrate and the pub has kindly agreed to provide sandwiches!

Cider Bear

Exciting news broke recently about a joint venture between Matt from the Bear on Abbeydale Road, and Mike at the Cider Hole in Shalesmoor. A unit inside Orchard Square is in the process of being fitted out as we speak, with a planned opening some time in June, although a name hasn’t yet been chosen (updated, it is to be called the Old Shoe!).

Apparently, the new venue will feature 20 taps, including 3 cask lines and cider too. We can also expect the same wide range of cans, bottles and artisan ciders for which both existing businesses are well known.

It is anticipated that the Exemption Ciderhouse production will relocate here from the Cider Hole.

It looks like being a great stop off for anyone arriving at Midland station heading for Kelham Island. We’ll have more details to announce next month, and will feature a full report once they are open.

Fagan’s folk

A timely reminder of the musical legacy of Fagan’s famous musical gatherings has appeared in the form of a new CD from local folk singer Fil Tebbutt.

Fil is one of the many musicians to have graced the back room at the pub during Tom & Barbara Boulding’s time as landlord and landlady and has now teamed up with several other regulars to produce an album combining both traditional and modern folk songs.

“When the martins take to the wing” features songs that Fagan’s regulars will have no doubt heard drifting across the bar, and one of them “The Girls of Glossop Road” even includes Tom’s own voice on the choruses.

It’s an excellent collection of tunes, all expertly sung and played, and great to play at home if you’re missing the craic. All profits from the CD go to charity, and you’ll probably have to visit the pub on a folk night to try and get hold of a copy. I heartily recommend you do.

Fagan’s Stories

As readers will know, Tom and Barbara Boulding, landlords of Fagan’s pub, retired in February after 37 years behind the bar. In the weeks before their retirement, Tom took time to record some of the stories and history behind the objects and artwork hanging on the walls of the pub, with pub regulars Tegwen Roberts, Ed Wynn and Dave Young.

One of the videos involves Tom talking about the day of the Hillsborough football disaster, which he remembers vividly. Did you know that the Mayor of Osaka once came to Fagan’s for his tea? Or that the former landlord Joe Fagan served in Bomber Command, and was a member of the Caterpillar Club? Hear these and other stories on YouTube @FagansStoriesSheffield.

Tegwen has also recorded a podcast about the early history of the Fagan’s – which goes back to the late 18th century – with support from Ed, Dave and producer Steve Dunbobbin. The podcast is a short dive into the early history of Fagan’s (formerly the Barrel Inn) told through the stories of some of the many people who have been part of the pub and its community over the past 200 years.

The podcast includes interviews with musicians who have played in the pub’s legendary back room, artist Pete McKee who created ‘the Snog’ mural on the gable wall, and CAMRA’s own Dave Pickersgill.

The podcast is available on Soundcloud; again just search for Fagans Stories Sheffield. There is currently one episode available, with another episode to come shortly with more stories from the pub’s community.
As Tom says, ‘It’s Fagan’s, so there’s always a tale’.

A new era

Fagan’s reopened under new management on Thursday 9 March.