New festival venue worth drinking to...

The Steel City Beer Festival at Ponds Forge was opened by Craig McKay(left),Junior Warden at the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire,pictured pulling the first pint of beer with Dave Williams the Festival Manager
The Steel City Beer Festival at Ponds Forge was opened by Craig McKay(left),Junior Warden at the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire,pictured pulling the first pint of beer with Dave Williams the Festival Manager
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It is home to eight acclaimed real ale pubs and four breweries, was recently declared the beer capital of the UK by The New York Times and is the place many a Sheffielder starts (and ends) their Saturday night.

Now Kelham Island is to get another sup-tastic string to its beery bow.

The Steel City Beer Festival – the city’s 40-year-old flagship real ale event – is to be moved to the area.

The annual four day long celebration of all things malt and hops will take place at Kelham Island Museum after organisers decided to move from Ponds Forge. The city centre sports centre has staged the event – which attracts some 4,000 sippers and tickers wanting to sample 150 different concoctions - for the past three years.

“This is a neighbourhood which is renowned across the world for its real ale,” says Richard Ryan, a member of the Campaign for Real Ale Sheffield and District Branch’s organising committee. “It makes sense this should be the home of the festival. If all goes well, we envisage the museum hosting the event for years .

“There are some fantastic pubs dotted around – The Fat Cat, the Kelham Island Tavern, The Wellington – and the idea is they will become part of a fringe festival, perhaps offering beers not on at the museum and providing their own entertainment.

“Think about it: there could be 4,000 beer lovers in the area. If all the venues get on board, that should make for a terrific atmosphere.”

Quite an atmosphere and quite a profit too.

Previous estimates suggest the festival – which will be held Wednesday October 29 to Saturday November 1 – brings in an estimated £150,000 to the city economy. Last year, beer lovers from as far away as Germany and Sweden could be found getting their top lip wet.

“I think other cities look at what we do and admire it,” says Richard, a machine operative of Handsworth.

Kelham Island Museum also has the added advantage of having both indoor and outdoor areas. Following events in 2010 and 2011, this is important for organisers.

“Sod’s law is the only way to describe what happened then,” Dave Williams, CAMRA spokesman previously told this page.

Following a nomadic history, in 2010, the event was held in a marquee in Sheffield General Cemetery, and it rained non-stop. People were swimming in six inches of mud. Unperturbed, organisers moved the event indoors to Ponds Forge in 2011 – and the hottest October weekend on record was promptly recorded. There were complaints the beer went off.

“Having the conference room and the outdoor courtyard will mean we’re prepared whatever the weather,” notes Richard.

Bosses at the museum are just as happy. They reckon beer is a key part of the area’s history. And now, with CAMRA’s national governing body expected to give final approval next week, it’s on with full preparations.

It will be a venue, Richard notes, well worth raising a glass to.