From wine to beer - John brews a UK first
He's been selling beer for 50 years - but now wine merchant John Mitchell is brewing his own.
The owner of legendary Mitchell’s in Norton branched out to join the growing legion of micro-brewers in Sheffield - the real ale capital of the world - after the tenant in the shop next to his family-run firm becaame vacant.
“It was empty and we wondered what to do with it”, said John, whose dad Dennis ran a butchers at the site and added a ‘beer off’ when his soon was 12. We thought about distilling gin but decided to brew beer first, we’ll do gin second.
“I think we are the only off licence or wine shop in the UK that has its own micro brewery on the premises.
“There’s more gin sold in Yorkshire than any other county in the country, bar London.
“I’ve sold every beer now for 50 years, we stock 350 beers in the shop and I’ve sold every one you can think of.
“Now I’m selling my own, which is lovely, and I keep going round and tasting it!”
The first brew was made on Yorkshire Day earlier this year, and there are now five beers available, from a pale ale called Dennis to golden beer Marilyn, the latter being a nod to the Marilyn Monro statue on the balcony outside the shop.
There’s also Independent Blonde and the self-explanatory Beer and Beef bitter, but the final beer has another story to it...
John, now 65, added: “I was in Fagan’s a few months ago, Tom the landlord has been there a long time and he said ‘you must be mad’ for opening a brewery. So we’ve called it Mitchell Madness.
“Half of the beers we are bottling and half of it we are selling to pubs around Sheffield, we’ve had great feedback. Its sold to The Sheaf in Heeley, and James who has it has his own brewery at Neepsend so for him to sell my beer and not complain - I’m quite happy.
“In future we want to do 330ml specials, I’d like to do a breakfast beer that’s got a bit of grapefruit in, a honey beer for Christmas and a stout.”
The shop also has an upstairs room converted into a miniature museum, with John’s memorabilia and curiousities collected over the decades on show.
It is hosting a gin tasting night next week, on November 10, and a Cattier cheese and champagne tasting night on November 30.