Hop to it. Real ale tours are launched in Sheffield

The Sheffield Brewery Company on Burton Road, Sheffield. Lee Marshall, Peter Rawlinson and Tim Stillman at the bar
The Sheffield Brewery Company on Burton Road, Sheffield. Lee Marshall, Peter Rawlinson and Tim Stillman at the bar

A VENTURE capitalising on Sheffield’s growing reputation as Britain’s beer capital will be launched next week.

Real Ale Trails will provide tours of the city’s best pubs with each itinerary including either a brewery tour or a beer tasting session with a local brewer.

The firm’s launch and inaugural tour will be during the MADE entrepreneur festival next Thursday when delegates will be taken around Sheffield Brewery Company in Neepsend, the Brew Company at the Harlequin pub in Nursery Street and Henry’s in Cambridge Street.

The first public tours begin next month and are now on sale. Typically, they will offer a brewery visit or talk and visits to five pubs in different parts of the city. Starting and ending in the city centre, the £35 cost will include transport, a half pint in each pub and snacks.

Already some parts of Sheffield are renowned for their real ale pubs, notably the ‘Valley of Beer’ around Kelham Island and Shalesmoor, but the intention is to take enthusiasts to pubs in areas they may not be familiar with.

On the list are the likes of the Blake in Blake Street, Walkley, the Rising Sun in Fulwood Road, Nether Green, and the Hillsborough Hotel in Langsett Road. A suburban tour is called Beer in the ‘Burbs.

The venture is the idea of journalist Austin Macauley, events organiser Maire McCarthy and management consultant Kristy Muffett, all of whom live in and around Sheffield.

“Every week there seems to be something new happening in relation to Sheffield’s pubs and a growing number of independent breweries, whether it’s an award, a new venture or a beer festival,” said Austin. “We feel that by creating ‘ale experiences’ out of what’s on offer we can make it easier for people from all over the country and beyond to see for themselves why Sheffield is touted as the beer capital of Britain. The tours will be fun and informative, taking in pubs across the city.”

Beer guides have made it easier to organise DIY tours, but Real Ale Trails believe there’s a market for tours that take out the hassle. “Our tours ought to appeal as much to Sheffielders as anyone else, helping them to explore pubs in parts of the city they’re less familiar with and meet some of the best brewers in the country,” added Austin.

Fellow director Maire McCarthy said: “The response from the industry has been very positive. I suppose it’s a no-brainer really – we’re bringing customers to their door. But even so, the encouragement we’ve received has been invaluable.

“When we began the process of compiling a list of possible pubs for our ale trails it just got longer and longer. We’ve barely scratched the surface with our first two itineraries but they’ll give people a flavour of what’s on offer in Sheffield. We’re hoping to pick up group bookings for things like works outings, birthdays and other celebrations.”

Last week the Society of Independent Brewers said it will hold its annual conference in Sheffield, from March 13 to 16.