BeerAlive! Beer X and Sheffield Beer Week
As the Society of Independent Brewers’ (SIBA) BeerX event returns to Sheffield for a fifth year, visitors will be treated to the launch of the new ‘BeerAlive!’ craft beer showcase as part of the event, inside a full-scale pop-up beer hall. The three-day festival, running from March 17-19, will serve all the SIBA Champion beers from across the UK, in cask, keg, bottle and can.
BeerX will continue to be based next door at iceSheffield, running this year from March 16. The gathering is a highlight of the beer calendar, attracting attendees from across the brewing industry, as well as journalists and bloggers – all keen to hear the results of the National Independent Beer Awards, the winners of which will all be served at the festival.
So what’s BeerAlive! all about?
The fully floored and heated venue will house eight regional bars that permanently serving all SIBA’s gold award-winning cask beers (while stocks last!). Gold, silver and bronze craft-keg beers will rotate throughout the three-day event. All of the beers are brewed by SIBA members who are Assured Independent British Craft Brewers, meaning visitors can enjoy the UK’s current best beers under one roof.
Around 200 different cask and keg beers will be stored in SIBA’s state-of-the-art temperature-controlled mobile cellars. With a similar number of beers available at can and bottle bars, there’s a huge range of choice.
Neil Walker, beer blogger and SIBA’s PR manager, said: “There are some fascinating beers available to try at this year’s event. One of the most unusual is Tonka by Hawkshead Brewery – a beer to savour at 8.5% abv. It’s brewed using South American tonka beans, which give this unique flavour of vanilla, almond, sour cherry and even a little cinnamon.”
Another interesting brew is Mumbles Brewery’s Oystermouth Stout at 4.4% abv. The South Wales brewery has teamed up with Mumbles Oyster Company to recreate this traditional drink. They claim that using real oysters in the beer adds ‘a suggestion of bracing seashore freshness.’
Local beers to try include Thornbridge’s AM:PM (4.5% session IPA) and Bayern (5% late hopped Pilsner), which may be joined by further award-winners from the region when the craft-keg beer competition results are announced on the Friday of BeerAlive!
There are delights in store for foodies too, with this year’s street food offering organised by home-grown experts Percy & Lily’s.
Additional local traders on board include Pie Eyed, Meltworks and Fancy an Indian?, along with London’s Caribou Poutine and specialist beer snacks from Barmies, Corkers Crisps, Big Horn Biltong, Karkli and Smo Fo Smoked Foods – so there’s plenty of sustenance on offer throughout the event.
BeerAlive! opens from 3pm on the Friday with live music in the evening from soul and motown band E-Maculate fronted by the charismatic Vernon Lewis – dancing shoes required!
Saturday’s event opens at midday, with all Six Nations rugby finals shown live on a giant screen from 2pm. Commiserations or celebrations will follow in the evening when Skudoo take to the stage, bringing their brand of uptown funk to the party. Last orders both evenings are 10.15pm, leaving revellers time to get back into Sheffield to visit their favourite pubs ahead of closing time.
New this year is a chill-out event with a family feel on the Sunday from 12-5pm. This will include brunch-style food, and fresh gourmet coffee from Sheffield’s Roastology, plus five live acoustic acts curated by Sheffield’s Sofar Sounds: Rob Green, LIO, Laura James, K.O.G. and Oh Papa – a great way to relax and see out the weekend. On the Sunday under-18s are welcome with a responsible adult and under-14s get in free.
Festival-goers can reach the venue by tram or on SIBA’s popular antique Routemaster bus. It will run on a loop from the city centre with stops near Sheffield station, the Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street and the Fat Cat at Kelham Island before heading out to iceSheffield. Travel on the Routemaster is free but donations for Sheffield Children’s Hospital are welcome. The timetable is available on the BeerX website.
Tickets for BeerAlive! are £7, which includes a programme and souvenir glass. Advance tickets can be purchased via beerx.org.
Sheffield Beer Week
For the third year Sheffield Beer Week will run in tandem with BeerX. This week of independent satellite events around the city is the brainchild of Hop Hideout proprietor and beer blogger Jules Gray.
Jules started Sheffield Beer Week to encourage support within the beer community and entice more people to visit from outside the region. The inaugural beer week saw around 25 independent events take place across the city – the following year that exploded to over 60.
“I’m really pleased to see the year-on-year interest grow throughout Sheffield and beyond in its appetite for celebrating beer,” she said.
Events hosted by participating breweries and pubs cover a wide range of content, from meet-the-brewer sessions to photographic exhibitions, a pub heritage walk, tap takeovers, food and beer pairing evenings, quiz nights, Twitter hours and much more.
Highlights this year include a Wild Beer Co. tap takeover and meet-the-brewer session at the city centre Bath Hotel; a discussion evening at Sentinel Brewhouse & Taproom on Shoreham Street; a new Abbeydale Brewery beer and artwork launch at the Devonshire Cat; and a Petrus Blending event at Hop Hideout with Belgian brewery De Brandebere’s UK Brand Ambassador Charlie Pountney.
Details about all this year’s events can be found at sheffieldbeerweek.co.uk.