A SHEFFIELD brewery is preparing to expand to meet the growing demand for its real ale.
When Abbeydale Brewery started in 1996 in an industrial unit in Aizlewood Road, it was producing up to 25 barrels a week.
The figure is now between 100 and 120, and the proposed expansion will bring a capacity of up to 200.
“We are in the process of buying a unit next door which will almost double our floor space,” said director Sue Morton, who runs the brewery with husband Patrick.
“For quite a while we have been in a position in which there has been more demand than we have had the capacity to brew. The business is out there for little businesses like us. There is a market.”
Although overall beer sales are falling across the country, small breweries such as Abbeydale are able to step up production on the back of increasing demand for local real ales.
“People like local beer and I think people are beginning to value a choice of something that is not mass produced, something that is crafted,” said Sue.
Customers include “a lot of young people, not just traditional beer drinkers and guys with pipes and in sandals!
“Sheffield has always had a strong following for real ale among its student population.”
Abbeydale produces about 12 brews, all cask ales, including popular lines such as Daily Bread, Moonshine, Brimstone and Deception, and itself delivers to pubs within a 100-mile radius, using a wholesale supplier to go further afield.
It has seen incremental growth, in line with directors’ expectations, buoyed by the Government’s scaling back of beer duty for smaller breweries and a helping hand from Finance Yorkshire, which offers business loans.
Abbeydale also has its own pub, the Rising Sun in Fulwood Road, Nether Green, but caught a cold with its second short-lived venture, The Moon in Upperthorpe.
The future is looking bright for Abbeydale, which employs 12 workers, and other micro-breweries in what local real ale enthusiasts like to call the Beer Capital of the UK.
“I think people are taking less foreign holidays and going to the pub more,” added Sue, formerly an academic at Sheffield Hallam University.
“The pubs that are struggling are really struggling, but good pubs are keeping their heads above water, despite everything.”
lThe 37th Steel City Beer and Cider Festival will be held in the leisure hall of Ponds Forge from September 29 to October 1, moving indoors after three years under canvas at Cemetery Park, off Cemetery Road. It is organised by the Campaign for Real Ale.