I think it’s fair to say that most people would stand up for their home town in any debate about the quality of British cities. Since starting work, I’ve lived in 22 different houses from Aberdeen to Hampshire, but I’m still very (blindly) proud of my birthplace Stoke on Trent.
Deep down I know this passion for The Potteries is pretty irrational and my faith in my home town is constantly taking a bit of a bashing. This belief took another blow last month as we went to Sheffield in search of beer. I’d lived in South Yorkshire for a few months back in the 90s, so I thought I knew what the Steel City was about and my expectations were set accordingly.
There are many similarities between Stoke and Sheffield. They are each in the shadow cast by the two big northern super cities Manchester and Leeds, they were once thriving industrial hubs and they both had a strong brewing tradition. I don’t want this to turn into a points scoring exercise against Stoke, but when you see what a 2020 Sheffield looks like, it’s come a long way from the tag of the ‘People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’. Even one of their football teams is excelling and potentially heading for the Champions’ League.
The importance of beer and football to this city is immediately apparent after spending just 30 seconds in the brilliant Triple Point Brewhouse. Situated in the Cultural Industries Quarter, a short walk from Bramhall Lane, home of The Blades, it’s the perfect venue for a pre match pint. The imposing bar has rows of SUFC lager and the fridges are jam packed too. If footy isn’t your thing, there’s a fantastic selection of Triple Point and guest breweries’ beer on the 9 keg lines and 5 cask pumps.
Father and son team Michael and George Brook have only been at Triple Point for a matter of months, but they clearly have a vision for the business. They run the brewery with the mantra ‘The Beer Comes First’ and their passion shines through when you meet them. Big plans are afoot and they are currently developing an events space at the rear with an additional area upstairs for live music.
The layout of the building is really creative and as you enjoy your pint, you can actually see the brewers at work through the glass wall, crafting the next gyles. Like all good tap rooms, there is a street food offering and in this case it’s courtesy of local food heroes The Twisted Burger Co.
Just a short walk away from Triple Point is the Lost Industry Tap, a quirky bar room set in a former iconic nightclub. Again, the beer range is fantastic and it’s great to see them supporting other local independent brewers with a tap wall that not only showcases Lost Industry beers, but also gives space to the likes of Heist Brew Co., Neepsend and Abbeydale.
There’s a distinct vibe about the Cultural Industries Quarter and the way in which the old heritage of the city has been re-engineered by investment. Another example of this development is the impressive Birdhouse Tea Bar, situated in a converted Victorian cutlery factory. With clearly divided areas ranging from an eatery to tasting rooms and a shop, there’s everything a tea lover could wish for.
To the north of the city, the Kelham Island area has already been redeveloped and has its own range of craft beer offerings and artisan shops, but it looks like the Cultural Industries Quarter is set to rival it as the place to be.Check out Kelham Island Brewery's tap Fat Cat.
A trip to Ecclesall Road is also recommended. We started at Brew Foundations' Ale Club and finished at the rather brilliant Portland House where there was a wide range of beer.
A sure sign that a city is on the up is the amount of cranes that dominate a skyline and judging by the amount of work going on in the air above Sheffield, its growth looks set to continue.