Here for the beer: Sheffield Steel City Beer and Cider Festival

Top tipple: Andy Cullen, above, and Stacey Webster with The Star ale.

Top tipple: Andy Cullen, above, and Stacey Webster with The Star ale.

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ROLL out the barrel!

Or more than 100 of them, to be precise, containing a total of around 9,000 pints which will be quaffed by real ale fans from Sheffield and across the wider region over the next few days.

From this evening, the annual Steel City Beer and Cider Festival opens its doors for the 38th time at Ponds Forge.

There will be 150 different varieties of beers, ales and ciders on offer over the next four days.

Work to prepare the venue started two days early, revealed Andy Cullen, chairman of Sheffield Campaign for Real Ale.

He said: “We started putting it together first thing Monday morning. We were moving into an empty hall and it takes roughly two-and-a-half days to set everything up. You have to build all the racks to sit the beer barrels, and install the piping and cooling systems.

“We have been setting up various side stalls selling T-shirts and breweriana - memorabilia such as beer clips - and there will be traditional pub games like Shove Ha’penny and table top skittles.

“There is also a stage which will feature live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”

Bands performing are Yorkshire Tea Bags - a fun folk music act - on Thursday, Matches Burning on Friday, and Humming Birds Blues on Saturday, whose saxophonist, Bob Swift, organised the jazz tent at the Tramlines festival.

Around 4,000 people are expected for the beer festival, which runs from 5pm to 11pm tonight and from midday until 11pm tomorrow, Friday and Saturday.

Andy said: “We are expecting people from around the local area but I’ve heard others are coming from as far afield as the states.”

Describing the variety of beers available, Andy said there are 120 cask ales, around 20 ciders, plus numerous continental beers, making a total of around 150.

He said: “Highlights include beers from The Edge, Sheffield’s newest microbrewery in Nether Edge, which is literally a room in a house, and they’ve produced three beers.

“We also have Wentworth Brewery’s chilli and chocolate ale, which was very popular last year, and some more unusual flavoured beers such as vanilla and honey.

We have beers from most of the local breweries plus some of the Derbyshire ones and elsewhere around the UK.”

Not all the festival-goers will be typical beer aficionados. Nathan Rodgers, president of Sheffield Students’ Unions’ Real Ale Society, said: “There are around 30 or 40 students who are coming along on the opening night.

“Ale is becoming quite popular among students because the beers are good, local products. The Interval Bar at Sheffield University has won an award from the regional CAMRA for its contribution to real ale by holding a beer and cider festival.”

* THE Star’s 125th anniversary Late Star ale is among the beers on offer at the Steel City Beer and Cider Festival.

The Thornbridge Brewery-produced ale is described by Andy Cullen as an ‘extra special premium version’ of a traditional malt bitter.

He said: “It should go down well with the crowds at the festival. The whole event is a big party for Sheffield as well as the local beer industry and we hope it will be very successful.”

Entry to the festival is £10 per person, which includes a glass and £5.50 of beer tokens.