Beer tourists

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    Beer tourists

    Focus on ale and brewing in Sheffield

    Our knowledge of specialist metals and their use in precision technology has also kept Sheffield in the vanguard of high value industrial and medical equipment manufacture.

    Equally our creative industry sector has held cheap jerseys its own in an intensely global market and we have world beating design and technology experts.

    More recently we are also seeing the rise of the craft ‘makers’ a reaction perhaps of mass production and consumer demand for provenance and authenticity.

    All of this activity has seen an increase in demand for small flexible workshop and studio space and here at Albyn Works the number of enquiries has shot up and the tenant mix is key.

    One tenant is Sheffield Brewery Co and it’s perhaps the explosion in the success of the micro brewing industry that most prominently reflects the changes we’re seeing in this region.

    By any standard Sheffield is now one of the real ale capitals of the world.

    Beer tourists, whether from abroad or the UK, are visiting this city not only to explore our wonderful real and craft ales but to take part in the vast array of festivals.

    People travel to places (and visit pubs) because they crave to experience something real, authentic and not homogenised.

    We attract attention when our city’s creative juices are flowing.

    So I’d like to see the city continue to develop a strategy for the ‘makers and creators’ and make the UK aware of what is going on here.

    Let’s start with the CAMRA beer festival and see some encouraging timely banners go up at the station.

    Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer, Sheffield CAMRA:

    Sheffield is the real ale capital of the world. It is a city where more than 400 cask conditioned beers are available, a place with more breweries in proportion to its population than anywhere in the UK with an excellent and eclectic range of bars and pubs, and a city that hosts the CAMRA Steel City beer festival at Kelham Island Museum, happening from October 19 to 23.

    In the 1980s, in (then unfashionable) Kelham Island, the Fat Cat effectively invented UK beer tourism and Sheffield, the City of Makers, could easily develop this much further.

    At a recent visit to a beer festival in Belgium, we had a long beer related conversation with the Flanders Region Minister of Culture. He expressed more interest in the Sheffield beer scene than emanates from our Town Hall. It would be positive to see Sheffield City Council representation at both the Steel City festival and 2017’s SIBA BeerX.

    A pitifully small number of Sheffield pubs have gained Asset of Community Value status. This week, an application for the University Arms was rejected. Many more ACV applications, ideally from local groups, need to be made to a (hopefully) sympathetic council. The number of Sheffield pubs on the CAMRA inventory of pub interiors has doubled in the last two years. Heritage pub talks and walks occur. In, for example, York, these would attract paying custom on a daily basis, but not yet in Sheffield.

    Our brewers produce an impressive range of diverse and innovative beers. However, a shared local canning/bottling plant is essential. Breweries and pubs need to continue to provide quality, service and commitment. However, it needs central backing to bring together the various players and co ordinate initiatives.

    In the wider sphere, beer tourism is ideally placed to link with the food scene, the outdoor city and a key Sheffield USP, the home of the world’s oldest football club. I look forward to the Neepsend trail becoming a must visit brewery experience with Sheffield establishing itself as the world capital for beer tourism. The potential exists and should be realised.

    Jules Gray, Sheffield Beer Week founder:

    Beer tourism is a banner that truly needs to be recognised for its positive importance to Sheffield and its pubs, breweries, beer shops, beer festivals and beer focused restaurants.

    It is driving people to visit the city whether its existing residents exploring their home turf or national and international visitors attracted to enjoy beer trails.

    The local economy and businesses then benefit in conjunction. Taking inspiration from countries like Belgium and cities like Brussels where this is well planned, thought out and promoted as a unified activity via local and national tourism boards.

    It’s one of the reasons I started Sheffield Beer Week to promote all the great beer businesses and take up the mantle to some degree, promoting beer trails around the city and events (not just in March but throughout the year). Further support and recognition from Sheffield City Council would be grand to help spread the good word.

    I also agree with a number of recommendations from the recently published beer report, commissioned by Sheffield University and written by esteemed broadcaster Pete Brown. These include Sheffield investing in a dedicated online resource and public relations support to build awareness outside of the city.

    I’m a huge advocate of the importance of education and knowledge/skills share. For me it really solidifies the longevity of a scene, constantly engaging and developing the existing and next generation. As highlighted in the report, I think Sheffield would benefit from a focused and stable educational course whether it be driven by a university or another source. There’s great demand for brewing course places in Edinburgh at Heriot Watt (one of only two in the country). Why couldn’t Sheffield be a new centre of learning for the beer industry?

    Peter Duff, chair of Save The Plough group:

    However, we know the great British pub is disappearing from our cities, towns and villages. In Sheffield, we have lost 68 pubs in recent years. Many think the days of the local pub are over due to changing lifestyles and cheap alcohol from supermarkets. It’s true that local pubs have to fight for their place in a very competitive market but many pubs have one hand tied behind their backs by the very people who own many of them the big pub companies.

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