Independent breweries 'key to fabric of Sheffield communities', report finds

Some of the many beers brewed in Sheffield, on sale at Beer Central in the Moor Market.
Some of the many beers brewed in Sheffield, on sale at Beer Central in the Moor Market.
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Sheffield's many brewers are playing an important role in their communities, according to a national report released today.

The Society of Independent Brewers, or Siba, said breweries were creating jobs, supporting the pub trade through taprooms and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

Kane Yeardley of True North Brew Co

Kane Yeardley of True North Brew Co

The 'Brewers in the Community' report was compiled based on feedback from about 500 UK brewers.

It found independent 'craft' breweries gave jobs to local people. Two thirds of staff lived within a 5 mile radius of the brewery and one in 10 were aged between 16 and 24, according to the survey.

Many brewers offered apprenticeship schemes.

The survey found taprooms - from something as simple as a few benches in the brewery to elaborate tasting rooms that rival any modern craft beer bar - were filling voids left by the closure of pubs.

The taproom at Sheffield Brewery Company

The taproom at Sheffield Brewery Company

Over 30 per cent of breweries that own a taproom, shop or visitor centre said they accounted for more than a quarter of their trade, according to the report.

Siba said taprooms were more important than ever when set against the fact that 10,000 pubs, many in rural and suburban areas, had closed in the last 15 years nationwide.

And the report showed that 84 per cent of those who responded had supported at least one charity, with many brewers choosing more than one.

Sheffield's Abbeydale Brewery was highlighted in the report for its annual charity beer. From every pint sold, 10p goes to the chosen good cause, with more than £1,000 raised for Light Sheffield through the Seven Hills Women's Institute in 2016.

True North Brew Co, which last year teamed up with Bakewell's Thornbridge for a 'half pint marathon', was also mentioned after raising £7,582 for the Sheffield Hospitals Charity helipad appeal.

Siba managing director Mike Benner said: “Britain’s small brewers are now a common feature of communities across Britain and are just as much a part of the local social and economic fabric of the communities they serve as pubs - creating jobs, supporting local charities and providing a place for the community to come together in the brewery tap.”

Last year Sheffield was named the world's best beer city in a report published as part of Sheffield’s Year of Making, and brewers this week agreed with Siba's findings.

Nick Law, brewery manager at Sheffield Brewery Company and Emmanuales, said: "The craft beer sector in Sheffield is key to the local economy.

"Not only do pubs, bottle shops and breweries benefit from the income generated by sales - other independent business, tradespeople and charities thrive as a result.

"Whether it’s local farmers collecting a brewer’s spent grains to feed cattle, graphic designers and artists working on branding, casual bar staff pulling pints in a tap room, or opportunities for apprentices, first-time employees or the disadvantaged, the brewing industry in Sheffield supports and props up a diverse range of businesses."

Nick said his firm supported the Sheffield Children's Hospital Trust and the social enterprise Yes2Ventures.

He added: "If you look at ancient history, civilisations populated around barley fields for the sole reason of making beer and other food produce, fuelling their economies.

"Brewing really is a key factor in society; today more than ever."

Marketing manager at True North Amber Carnegie added: "Small independent breweries are becoming a fundament within communities across Sheffield as much as pubs themselves.

"At True North we open the doors to our brewery monthly for tap sessions so the public can see how we work, enjoy our beers where they are made and talk with our head brewer.

"We vary our sessions to fit within events happening in the Sheffield community, for example with Cliffhanger happening in July we have created a Cliffhanger Pale Ale and have arranged for our Tap Session to happen during the event so people can come together in the brewery during the event.

"We also work with other breweries across Yorkshire to contribute to local charities. Our yearly event with Thornbridge Brewery ‘The Sheffield Half Pint Marathon’ has just completed its third year and continues to raise money and awareness year upon year with 2017 supporting Sheffield Mind. (press release for this will be released next week)

"Here at True North we also focus on restoring unloved pubs to the heart of their community, bringing a new lease of life to the area and creating events for local charities.

"We also work with local companies to collaborate on beers to showcase Sheffield history. We’ve recently worked with Mitchell’s Wine to create ‘Harry’s Ale’ using a recipe from 1911 in honour of Harry Mitchell getting his license at what is now a True North venue, The Waggon and Horses.

"This weekend our brewery is open on Friday from 5pm to 11pm and Saturday from 12pm to 11pm in partnership with brewers in the community."

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