There are several UK breweries for me that – criminally – fly under the radar. Few, perhaps are as overlooked as Sheffield’s Abbeydale Brewery.
Established in 1996 and located just off Abbeydale Road towards the south of the city, this brewery has slowly but steadily built a reputation for solid pale ales such as Heathen and its suppable best bitter, Daily Bread.
But this is beginning to change, thanks largely to the efforts of Jim Rangely, one of their brewers who is somewhat obsessed with all things wild and funky. With his Funk Dungeon project, Jim has gradually began to take Abbeydale in a new direction, releasing beers that are sharpened with Lactobacillus or taken around the back of the goat pen with our good friend, Brettanomyces. If Abbeydale Brewery was a band, Jim is on bass, and he’s only playing slap – Bootsy Collins style.
Ryes from the Grave is one of Funk Dungeon’s first proper releases, ably demonstrating how promising the beers from this project have the potential to be. This blended ale comprises of three beers which have spent around 18 months maturing in a mixture of American and French oak barrels that were formerly used to produce red wine. After blending, they were then refermented with cherries and blackcurrants.
The fruit means that this beer pours a vibrant shade of red, and the taste is rich with tangy cherries and ripe blackcurrant. It’s mouth-puckeringly sharp at first, but after a few sips your palate adjusts and other flavours, such as soft oak and tannin – which mellow the sharpness of the beer a little – come to the fore.
This beer was a real highlight at September’s FunkFest, a showcase of wild and sour beer held at the Abbeydale Brewery, now in its second year. It’s exciting to see this brewery take bold steps in this direction, and in cans too! If they’re not on your radar yet, I’d hope that after trying this beer you’ll be first in line for future releases. Well, behind me, at least.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Be first to read Matt’s columns when you sign up to our All Killer No Filler beer subscription box - along with Claire Bullen’s recipe and pairings, plus in-depth tasting notes, they’re included in every box.