Abbeydale have, for some time now, been one of the most consistent (as in consistently good) beers available in Yorkshire and beyond. Driven by sheer nosiness and curiosity (as all writers are), I contacted them to pick their brains. Luckily, Sue Morton was more than happy to answer my questions, and I share them all with you here.
Leigh: So, how’s business?
Sue: Absolutely fine. The brewery has grown, sometimes steadily, sometimes rapidly in its almost thirteen years. It is always necessary to manage the growth so that we maintain the quality of the beers and also continue to give good service to our old customers as well as our new ones. At the moment we are having to manage the orders to stay within our capacity.My husband Patrick started the brewery. He was an enthusiastic and very competent home brewer from when I first knew him. He started his working life in the family scissor-making business in Sheffield, leaving that for a more corporate life in the eighties, travelling the world as a process control engineer. When he tired of that and wanted to start his own business, a brewery was an obvious choice. So he gave up a well paid job, worked for a few years at Kelham Island Brewery and then, with the help of his father who had sold the scissor business and was looking for another project, started the brewery.
Do you remember your first brew?
So, what are your favourite beers?
…And what non-Abbeydale beers are your tipples of choice?
What’s your proudest achievement?
Yes – the brewery continues to expand steadily; but no, we don’t plan to bottle. For us, beer should be enjoyed in good company in a pub. Pubs are struggling, why would we want to contribute to their demise by making our beers available in bottles and especially cheap in supermarkets. We supply real ale off-licences like the Archer Road Beer Stop in Sheffield who will supply any quantity of take out from 1 pint to 18 gallons and most pubs will allow people to buy carry outs – we have 4 pint containers for that purpose. If you want to enjoy our beers, go to the pub.
Any advice for budding brewers out there?
Talk to lots of brewers before you try to start up, preferably go work for one for a bit. Remember it’s about selling beer as well as making it and that it is about consistently making really good beer that helps to sell itself.
What’s your fondest beer-related memory?
So many to choose from! Sitting in any pub and just counting the people drinking our beers. But recently some of my best memories have come from the summer beer festivals we have organised at our pub The Rising Sun at Nether Green. We have a large car park at the back so we were determined to run beer festivals there. We do them around the middle of July and are on the third this year (9-12 July). We do 60+ beers and it has proven to be very popular and successful. For me the pinnacle is always Saturday evening when my hard work is all done and I sit back and relax and watch everyone enjoying themselves. Although we have generally had poor weather, both years the Saturday has been quite good or at least dry. I have attached a few pictures, including one of Patrick surveying the festival with great satisfaction.
So, what does the future hold for Abbeydale?
Hopefully lots more beer and fun for all involved. If it weren’t fun, at least most of the time, we wouldn’t do it.
Abbeydale really do represent a modern, yet tradtional Yorkshire brewery that continue to operate successfully without compromising on thier values. If you see any of thier wares, particulary my favourite, Daily Bread, give them a try.