2019 is a new start for my Monthly Reviews, the last ones I did was in 2017 and I didn’t want to do them every year so 2 years seem a good wait. I didn’t do one in January as the month was nearly over before I had my list of 10 reviews to do.
August – is Ecclesall Ale Club pub and Brew Foundation Brewery.
- Introduce yourself and tell everyone who you are? Have you been in the beer business long.
Hi, I’m James Eardley. Owner and brewer at the Brew Foundation, and owner of the Ecclesall Ale Club. I started cuckoo brewing under the Brew Foundation name in November 2015 and then opened the Ale Club in November 2017.
- Tell everyone what you serve ale wise, gin, vodka, beers etc etc and how many. Food wise as well.
At the Ale Club we focus on beers (as the name suggests) so have 8 keg lines, 5 cask lines and approx 130 bottles and cans etc to drink in or take away. I try and keep one of my beers available on either keg or cask but sometimes it’s just all guest. I do a lot of beer swaps with other breweries so we get beers from all over the country, and in fact, from all over the world.
We do sell other drinks too: a full range of spirits, wines and mixers. We try and avoid big brands in order to support smaller independents. We get our wines and spirits from Starmore Boss on Sharrow Vale Road and have just increased our gin range up to 12 craft gins, some of which are core and some which are on rotation.
In regards to food we sell a large range of bar snacks such as bacon fries, pork scratchings, biltong, crisps, etc but we also sell Wateralls pork pies and vegan “sausage” rolls. Once a month we have a special food event. The last two consisted of a stout and oyster night hosted by our friends J H Mann on Sharrow Vale Road, and a full four course sit down meal hosted by our friends Butcher and Catch in Broomhill.
The next one will be another Butcher and Catch hosted evening in September so keep your eyes on our social media channels for more info (@aleclubpub).
- What are the opening hours, also what events do you have on during the week and weekends. (quizzes etc etc)
We open 7 days a week 11.30am until 11.00pm. We don’t currently do quizzes etc as we’re only a small place and they can take over a bit. We want to always be available should you want a drink and a chat with your friends.
- Do you have any plans to do any meet the breweries or tap takeovers this year, I noticed you started food pairing with beers is this something new you will be doing this year more ?
We find that beer and food pairings work really well for us so are going to continue doing those on at least a monthly basis, maybe more often. In the past we’ve done tap takeovers combined with a food pairing so expect more of those in the future.
- What made you choose the location you are in now and where did the name of the pub come from ?
For years I tried to open the “Sharrow Vale Ale Club” as I live on Sharrow Vale and thought it would be a good addition to the independent business scene there. However the Council had other plans so I ended up having to widen my search from one road in Sheffield up to two roads; just round the corner on Ecclesall Road. Haha. The current location on Ecclesall Road became available and I felt it joined the two ends of Ecclesall Road up well. There was nothing in the middle but now there’s a watering hole as you walk up and down the crawl.
In regards to the name, “The Ale Club” suited the old school private members club inspired decor I had in mind. People seem to like it, so it’s all good.
6. Tell us more about your brewery Brew Foundation, where are they located and do you have a core range ?, what are they ? any collabs in the pipeline ?
I’d looked at buying some brewing equipment, and I’d even looked at buying a (v small) brewery but the idea/opportunity arose to cuckoo brew out of Wincle Brewery. Cuckoo brewing is going in and using another brewery’s equipment to brew your own beer. A lot of breweries have spare capacity as they don’t brew every day. In basic terms I go to Wincle once a week, empty last week’s brew out of the fermenter into casks and brew again to refill the fermenter. The reason why I brew at Wincle, which is in the Cheshire Peak District just past Buxton, is that it’s exactly half way in between me in Sheffield and my dad in Nantwich, Cheshire. My dad Robert sells Brew Foundation beer into Cheshire and I brew it and sell it into Yorkshire.
Although the original plan for the Brew Foundation was to cuckoo brew for 12 months or so, it’s now been over three and a half years! It just works so well that if it aint broke, don’t fix it!
You can find their beers on here.
- Now time to think back, what was your first ever ale you had and which pub was it in ?, also is the pub still there.
I’ve no idea which pub it would have been in but my first ale would have been either Pedigree, Bass or Timmy Taylors Landlord because that’s what my dad used to drink. I still like a pint of Landlord nowadays to be fair.
- Which are your favourite top 3 breweries and why ?
Although I brew mainly cask beers, I am a sucker for drinking a soft, fruity, juice bomb on keg, so Verdant are always a go to for me. There are so many breweries that specialise in that style of beer now that’s it’s difficult to differentiate between them but Verdant beers are always solid.
I also rate Arbor in Bristol very highly – the first time I drank Shangri La I wanted it to come out of my taps at home instead of water! Haha.
The third favourite choice is tricky, there are so many to choose from. Let’s go Yorkshire and say Northern Monk. No matter what the beer style they can turn their hand to them all with great results.
- Which are your favourite 3 pubs in Sheffield and why ? You can choose your own
Choosing my own would feel like cheating, plus it’s difficult to relax in your own pub – I’m always looking for glasses to clear or tables to wipe.
I’ve got a put the Beer House on the list. In Sheffield they paved the way for all us other micro pubs. Their cask range is always spot on and there’s always a great atmosphere.
I love the Sheffield Tap’s decor and the way they have restored and kept some beautiful original features (and the beer range is mahoosive!)
Finally let’s choose somewhere with a beer garden. What about the Interval Cafe Bar at Sheffield Students’ Union? Best beer garden in Sheffield. Open to none students (thankfully) and a great place to have a pint in the sunshine.
- A question I asked in 2017 to some and will be asking this to everyone this year and see if any of them happen, so what do you think will be making the headlines in Sheffield in 2019/20 beer wise ?
If I knew that I’d be doing it and making millions. 😉
I’d say that finally kegged beer will catch up with cask in Sheffield. Sheffield has always had a really strong cask scene but pubs in Sheffield have lagged behind other cities with their keg offerings. 2019/20 will see lots of bars opening with large amounts of keg lines.
You can follow the pub on Twitter here.
You can follow the pub on Facebook here.
Brew Foundation on Twitter here
Brew Foundation on Facebook here.
Brew Foundation website is here
All the pictures are from the Facebook page.