Last weekend, I welcomed the arrival of Sheffield Beer Week, by visiting Indie Beer Feast. Hosted in the very special Abbeydale Picture House building, this debut event offered a unique environment to enjoy good beer, good food and good company. So, how did it do?
Abbeydale may be a familiar name amongst beer fans, certainly those in the North of England. Abbeydale Brewery is one of Sheffield’s leading breweries, having been established in 1996. The brewery had a recent investment and is capable of producing 800 casks of beer a week. Based South of Sheffield city centre, it’s also only a few streets away from the Abbeydale Picture House (there’s a name theme here!)
Abbeydale Picture House is a large, iconic building that dates back to 1920. Originally a cinema, ballroom and billiard hall (gives you an idea of the size of the building, big!), it closed in 1975. It was then used for 16 years as a furniture showroom, before becoming part of various restoration projects since 1991.
What it is today is very special, and unique. If you’re a fan of rustic, traditional buildings (think events in viaducts, in old mills), then this is perfect. Seating is in place facing forward to the stage area, which anyone was able to use for the festival. The walls had flaking paint and murals that just seeped character into this amazing building. There’s also stained-glass windows high in the roof.
In the theatre, for the event, breweries had bars set up just inside the main hall and also at the front of the stage. Towards the left of the stage, a small door took you through to a separate area. Dark, exposed brick and currently in use for an exhibition, here the food vendors were housed. As far as beer festival venues go, this is one of the most fascinating I’ve been to.
Venue aside, the event showcased some of the very best UK breweries. And, a lot of them local too. It was great to see Thornbridge there, one of my personal favourite breweries. They’d also brought with them a slightly downsized bar compared to Craft Beer Rising, but it still had the brilliant Jaipur wooden pump clip. Naturally, I had Jaipur and tried Ena, a Nitro Milk Stout which was light, smooth and creamy.
Away from Thornbridge, other local breweries were on hand too. Abbeydale Brewery, as you’d expect, were there. I enjoyed their Voyager IPA, which was the Sorachi, Lime and Enigma version. There was also representation from the likes of Magic Rock, North Brewing, and Vertical Drinks amongst others locally, and Mad Hatter and Fourpure amongst others from further afield.
It was great to see all bars serving thirds, halves and pints. This was one thing a bit hit and miss at Craft Beer Rising, but as someone who like to try lots of different beers, third pint measures are my go to.
Supporting the breweries were a number of great food vendors too. I didn’t have something from all of them, but Little Bao Boy was superb. And, as it turns out, also Leeds-based. I look forward to seeing more of them at other events!
Beers of the Day
I managed to work my way through a few beers, as you might expect! Here are my top three of the day. To be fair to the rest, I have excluded Jaipur from this list as it is the current number one on my Golden Pints all-time best beers list. But, it was blooming lovely.
3. Mad Hatter – Tricky Flamingo
The great name scored this one a few extra marks, but the beer was also very good. Not quite as vibrant pink as I’d hoped. This is a lager and its pink hue and fruit flavours come from raspberries. A very nice, refreshing beer.
2. Fourpure – Easy Peeler
This session IPA was laden with fruit flavours. Based on my (extensive!) experience with beers, I often find that it is the stronger beers that bring out the most flavours. But, now we’re seeing an emergence of session beers (low alcohol) that are packed with flavours. Orange fruit dominated this easily supped session beer.
1. Black Iris Brewery – Divine Elements
This American IPA is brewed with Mosaic hops. If you’ve read my other blog posts and follow me on Untappd, you’ll know where I’m going with this! A fabulously fruity beer, which was so easy to drink. This beer really showcases what mosaic hops can do in beer. Superb.
I really enjoyed this festival. Where Craft Beer Rising had been hustle and bustle, and a lot going on, this event had a much more chilled vibe to it. The venue had more than enough seating (as you’d expect for what it is!), and the organisers had created something fun and relaxed.
Perhaps the most fun thing, was watching the staff member walking round the theatre hall with an air horn in hand. Initially thinking he was about to instigate some kind of crazy party, it turns out he was the fire alarm! What a job. Although I’m not entirely sure what people would have done on hearing the air horn, other than be deafened and slightly bemused. Thankfully, at least whilst I was there, he didn’t have need to sound the alarm, despite his fire hunting vigilance!
A wonderful early event for Sheffield Beer Week, I hope this festival stays on the calendar for next year and beyond. Loved it!If you enjoy reading our content, please consider sharing with your friends using the sharing buttons at the bottom of each post. Also, you can subscribe to receive notifications about new blog posts via email. Simply enter your email address into the 'Subscribe to Mike's Tap Room' box at the top left of this page.