Brewery of the year? Now then, this might be a bit of a surprise.
Previous winners have been crafty heavyweights from the North and South, Magic Rock and Siren (who`ve both had solid years btw) but for this year we have gone back to basics and back to proper local.
Sheffield is now awash with breweries; new ones popping up monthly but some of them are now actually getting pretty good. The shackles of traditionally tasteless twiggy brews are gradually being shed; Saturation point must be close mind. Whereas Huddersfield has a clutch of quality, boundary-pushing brewers most of Sheff's stay safe, small and simple. However, more and more drinkers are looking for quality not quantity even in the penny pinching city of steel. A business model that can offer quality but at an austerity-respecting price is the brew pub model: Make ales locally, for your own pubs, that are decent yet affordable. Quality hops at a quaffable cost. If the brews go down well, make more of them, produce more prototype practices and maybe then even flog them beyond the republic.
The Sheaf View seems to have seen so many quality bar staff go on to great things, they must be doing something right. And they are about to become a chain if we hear right adding another to the Sheaf and Blake duo.
Starting the Neepsend Brewery was nevertheless a brave step. Breweries are going bust in 2015. Previously the Sheaf View had been a top-selling Farmers Blonde pub but then a possible penny pinching plunge to Acorn Blonde helped keep the tills ringing. Selling so much of their house beers allowed managers to balance books and then buy better beer for the discerning drinkers to the point where there are now even dedicated craft keg lines offered alongside the occasional real craft treat and still at Heeley prices.
Neepsend Blonde now fills the substantial shoes left by its famed predecessors whilst making budgetary room for bigger players under the salary cap, so to speak. However, head brewer Gavin has already nailed a solid Stout and his hop head orientated brews are coming along nicely. Hokaiddo is very good as is High Force whilst the IPAs have been spot on so far. And value.
Gavin is keen to tweak, test and perfect the Neepsend portfolio (including the branding) and they've already been spotted as far afield as London, and London Road (the Beer Engine sagely always has a Neepsend offering nowadays). And Dronfield!
Sure, Neepsend Brewery Compnay are a work in progress but we reckon this brewery are one to watch. We like quality. We like local. We love local quality. If Neepsend build on this solid start then who knows! Cheers!