New line of Sheffield ales hits the right note with choir

Albion Choir members celebrate the launch of Abbeydale Brewery's new line of ales which has been named after the musical group
Albion Choir members celebrate the launch of Abbeydale Brewery's new line of ales which has been named after the musical group
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Both good and bad ideas have come out of meetings done over a pint or two of ale.

For a Sheffield choir and brewery a session supping on local brews resulted in a ‘eureka’ business moment.

Fraser Wilson, a composer who heads up Sheffield’s Albion Choir, first met the owners of Abbeydale Brewery, Sue and Patrick Morton, through one of the musical group’s concerts.

The creative 30-year-old is passionate about music, particularly traditional British arrangements, and suggested to the couple that the titles and lyrics of such songs would make excellent names for ales.

No stranger to merry outbursts from fans of their beers, Sue and Patrick were initially a little dismissive of the idea but soon realised the potential in marrying British music with homegrown hops.

“So many people think they have good ideas for beer names and so few of them actually are good names - but the more I thought about naming an ale after the Albion Choir, the more I liked it,” said Sue. “Fraser’s suggestion also came at a time when there was a shortage of hops from North America, Australia and New Zealand, where we usually source from, and when English hop growers were going to great efforts to improve their flavours.

“Everything came together in one eureka moment and we thought instead of doing just one Albion ale, why not do a whole series, giving us the opportunity to experiment with home grown hops and support the choir.”

“The idea was to give the beers titles linked to quintessential Britain, some of which we hope will be lyrics from musical arrangements that Fraser composes for the choir.”

The first Albion ale, titled This Sceptr’d Ale, was brewed up using freshly harvested green hops resulting in a clean, grassy flavour while the second, Full English Breakfast Stout, is described as ‘a meal in a glass’ and features oats, coffee, smoked malt and maple syrup amongst its inventive ingredients.

Sue said: “The first two ales have been really well received by customers at our Sheffield pubs, The Devonshire Cat and The Rising Sun, as well as places within a 100-mile radius that stock us as guest ales.

“We’re currently brewing up the third ale using English Jester hops and plan to add a new beer to the Albion line each month.”

Fraser and the choir were invited to the first sampling of This Sceptr’d Ale and say they are delighted to have a range of beers bearing their name.

“The ales came out of a real meeting of minds - we’re both creatives, who are proud of our British roots and who aim to put Sheffield on the map,” said Fraser, who lives in Greystones. “Live music and drinking alcohol have long gone hand-in-hand so this really is a perfect match.”

To celebrate the launch of Albion Ales, Fraser’s choir will perform at the Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street, Sheffield, at 8.30pm on October 30.

Those who attend will be able to hear the music that inspired the brewery’s latest range while sampling a pint of the good stuff for themselves.

Albion Choir sing songs from the musical past of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, including popular songs such as Jerusalem, Scarborough Fair and O Danny Boy, as well as new arrangements composed by Fraser.