Homebrew in the community

Being a bit of a homebrew enthusiast myself, I was intrigued when I heard that Sheffield’s On the Edge Brewery was having one of its own beer festivals in a community centre just a mile away. On the Edge Brewery is the passion of one man who has taken homebrewing to a level where he can supply casks to pubs and organise his own mini-festivals to publicise his produce. The brewery’s fifth birthday was a perfect reason for a celebratory festival and so Tom, the brewer, prepared nine pins (four and a half gallons) of different beers and set-up in the hall of the Old Junior School in Sharrow. This was an unmissable opportunity for me to experience a very inspirational venture, and, of course, taste a few beers.

Walking in to the old school hall I was struck by the really good atmosphere. There was very much a local community feel about the place, with groups of all ages and families with children all enjoying a relaxed night out with good beer……and cake. Being a birthday celebration friends of the brewery had baked a range of lovely cakes to give a party feel to the evening. Unfortunately, we’d been slow getting over to the festival and missed the early evening pie and peas, which was quite a shame as it’s always such a perfect accompaniment to beer.

My wife and I tried almost the full range of beers. My wife having those advertised as wheat beers or ‘spicy’, whilst I kept mostly to the variously hopped pale ales but making an exception for one of the dark offerings.

Tom, and his partner Lu, were great hosts and I could see everyone, like us, really enjoyed the evening. Tom was also good enough to give me a few useful homebrewing tips which I’ll be thinking about next time I set about a brew.

Whilst, I really admire Tom’s brewing skills and passion, I came away from the festival a little sad that I hadn’t found a bitter beer in his range. On the Edge Brewery appears to follow the widespread trend towards beers with little bitterness but heavily hopped for ‘fruity’ flavours. I know this is a national trend/fashion but it seems to be one that is particularly prevalent in the Sheffield area. Elsewhere in this blog (Me? I’m not bitter) I write of the lack of good bitter beers in Sheffield, and it is a real concern for me. That being said, I don’t want to detract from the obvious skill and enterprise of Tom and On the Edge Brewery. I look forward to the next mini-festival, and I suggest any Sheffielders reading this should do the same.

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