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Kelham Island Brewery saved

We are delighted to report that Sheffield-based Kelham Island Brewery has been saved from closure by a group of Sheffield businesspeople.

The rescue of the city’s oldest independent brewery is a collaboration between James O’Hara (Tramlines co-founder and Sheffield venue owner), his brother, financial analyst Tom O’Hara, Simon Webster and Jim Harrison (who run the renowned Thornbridge Brewery), Peter Donohoe (founder of Sheffield based creative studio Peter and Paul), and Ben Rymer (marketing manager from beer festival organisers, We Are Beer).

James O’Hara, who put the group together after hearing about the brewery’s closure, said: “Kelham Island Brewery, and its flagship beer Pale Rider, are known and revered beyond Sheffield. It’s heritage that we, as a city, should be really proud of.

“We couldn’t let that just disappear, it means too much within the city and to the UK’s beer culture for it to become another Wikipedia entry.”

Kelham Island Brewery was a pioneer for the UK’s craft beer scene and has played a significant role in Sheffield’s brewing history and heritage. The brewery was founded in 1990 by Dave Wickett and was the first new independent brewery in Sheffield for over 100 years.

From humble beginnings in the garden of the Fat Cat pub in Kelham Island it flourished, with many of its brewing talent going on to set up and work for the likes of Abbeydale, Thornbridge, Magic Rock, Bradfield and Brewdog.

Commenting on the deal, Simon Webster from Thornbridge Brewery, said: “Kelham Island Brewery has always been linked with Thornbridge. They were the reason we started the business. Theirs were the first beers we brewed and Dave Wickett was a guiding hand in the early days of Thornbridge.

“When I first heard about the closure, I immediately thought, how can we help? How can we save the heritage that the Wickett Family had built? I chatted passionately about what we could do with James and we formulated a plan to try to save those great beers. I’m so pleased we have been successful. We’re looking forward to brewing the beers and keeping Kelham Island Brewery alive in Sheffield and beyond.”

Pale Rider, the brewery’s flagship beer, won the Champion Beer of Britain in 2004, it was the first winner to use hops from the USA and is still the only beer in South Yorkshire to have ever received the accolade.

Jim Harrison who set up Thornbridge Brewery in 2005 said: “Dave was a good friend and really understood beer and its regional variations. He understood that to be successful you needed to get your beer to people outside of the area. He was years ahead of his time and I’m so proud that we have been able to save these beers from being lost forever.”

Ed Wickett, former Kelham Island Brewery owner and son of founder Dave Wickett said: ‘I’m really pleased the brewery is in such safe hands. It’ll be great to serve Pale Rider in the Fat Cat again’

The first pour of Pale Rider will be at the Fat Cat on lunchtime of the 19 October, it will then also be pouring at CAMRA’s Steel City Beer Festival taking place, fittingly, at Kelham Island Museum starting on the evening of the 19 October for four days. The beer will then be delivered to the wider on-trade from week commencing 24 October.

Here at Hand Crafted Drinks Magazine we wish the new team at Kelham Island Brewery all the very best and look forward to sampling a pint of Pale Rider.

For more information visit their website: