Is Sheffield still the best city in the world for beer?

20th October 2023

A new report exploring whether Sheffield is still the best city in the world for beer has been commissioned this week (19 October 2023).

  • A University of Sheffield professor has commissioned a new report to explore whether Sheffield is still the best city in the world for beer
  • Sheffield Beer City Report - published in 2016 - found that the city is the real ale capital of the world and the birthplace of the craft beer revolution
  • Written by internationally recognised beer writer Pete Brown, the report revealed Sheffield City Region had nearly five times as many breweries per person than London, brewing 1,000 different beers per year and on a typical day 400 unique beers were available in the city’s pubs
  • Report is now being revisited, revised and updated following the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis’ impact on brewing and is set to explore the industry’s role in regenerating the city

A new report exploring whether Sheffield is still the best city in the world for beer has been commissioned this week (19 October 2023).

The Sheffield Beer City Report, first published in 2016, found that the South Yorkshire city is the real ale capital of the world and the birthplace of the craft beer revolution.

Written by internationally recognised beer writer Pete Brown, the report revealed that the Sheffield City Region had nearly five times as many breweries per person as the UK’s capital London and brewed 1,000 different beers every year. On a typical day, 400 unique beers were available in the city's pubs, according to the analysis. 

The report is now being revisited, revised and updated following the huge impact that the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis has had on the UK’s brewing and hospitality industries. It is also set to explore the role that Sheffield’s brewers are playing in the regeneration of the city and the increasing role of women in the industry.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City, Culture and Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield, who commissioned the report, said: 

“The first report had a huge impact on how Sheffield is seen, particularly in terms of the visitor economy. But the numbers in it are now nearly eight years out of date. It’s clear that the report is valuable, so we need an updated version.”

Pete Brown, the award-winning Barnsley-born beer writer and author of the report, said: 

“A great deal has happened in the beer world since 2016. Sheffield is still a great city to drink beer in, but like everywhere else, brewing and hospitality have been hit by Covid and the cost-of-living crisis. Some brewers have closed, but other new ones have opened. I get the sense that the Sheffield beer scene is actually more interesting and diverse than it was, even more of an attraction to the city and the region than it was in 2016, but I’m very keen to put some numbers on that and dig deeper.”

The report will be written by beer writer Pete Brown and has been commissioned by Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City, Culture and Public Engagement at the University of Sheffield. Jules Gray, founder and director of Sheffield Beer Week and owner of Hop Hideout, completes the team behind the report.

The new report coincides with this week’s Steel City Beer and Cider Festival, held at Sheffield’s Kelham Island Museum from Wednesday 18 to Saturday 21 October. The festival attracts visitors from across the UK and overseas. 

There will also be a series of podcasts and other online materials that will dive deeper into some of the issues explored in the report.

The report will be launched at the next Sheffield Beer Week, which will be taking place from 4 to 10 March 2024.

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