Publican Andy Stephens is drinking to success – with good reason, following the launch of his own beer.
Blue Bee Brewery, based in Neepsend, is the realisation of a dream for Andy, who took over free house the Rutland Arms in Brown Street 18 months ago.
“Sheffield has about ten really good breweries but I’d always wanted to create my own beer,” he says.
“After we’d settled in I was talking to Richard Hough, the former head brewer at Abbeydale.
“He was keen to go back to developing beers, so we decided to go into it together.”
The two struck lucky when a Nottingham brewery closed down and sold them all the equipment. Then they spent months finding the right place to set up Blue Bee and obtain the necessary licences.
But Richard was already working on the core range and by the time the premises were ready, so were the recipes.
“We started brewing in earnest in May and we’re aiming to double production over the next few weeks,” says Andy.
The range features Nectar (a pale ale brewed with honey from Sheffield Honey), Bees Knees bitter, Lustin’ for Stout and Tangled Up IPA.
They also produced a brew especially for the 30th anniversary of Heeley City Farm, which was sold in 30 city pubs.
By July 1 Blue Bee beers should be on tap permanently at the Rutland and at other real ale pubs around town.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but it’s great now we’ve got to this stage,” says Andy. “Having people drink your own beer is even more exciting than having your own pub!”