Jules Gray, founder of Sheffield Beer Week

Sheffield makes me joyfully tranquil.

Sheffield drew me in as a student from the late 90s. I love its friendly nature, cultural heartbeat and the fusing of outdoor and urban. Above all there’s something special about the people - no-fuss, down to earth, making things happen and having fun along the way.

The city really has an independent spirit and you can see this through people’s positive support of indie music, club nights, festivals, businesses and more throughout Sheffield. 

This network-enabled me to set up my business here (Hop Hideout beer shop), as well as give back to the city too and sing its praises – which is what Sheffield Beer Week is all about. It’s a city-wide annual event in the second week of March with an independent ethos at its heart. It celebrates the rich cultural history of beer in the city (first recorded brewery in the 1750s), to the reigniting in the late 80s/early 90s by Dave Wickett via the Fat Cat pub and Kelham Island Brewery, to the modern-day landscape of new brewery/taprooms such as Saint Mars of the Desert. 

Collaboration is also key with local breweries often joining forces to brew a beer which is then released during the week. In 2019 we had a whole strand dedicated to showcasing the diverse range of people involved at all levels of the beer industry. A photography trail across multiple venues revealed the people behind the beers we enjoy. Of course, there’s always more to be done as an industry to make everywhere safe and welcoming and increase diversity. But at least the open dialogue is happening and positive changes are occurring. It’s an area I’m really proud to be a part of driving under this initiative. 

Because of the way the city is, there’s a community feel throughout each neighbourhood. I’ve found stopping by any of the pubs, bars, beer shops or microbreweries that you’ll easily spark up friendly conversation, and they’ll probably give you the best tips to discovering the city too! 

It’s these inspiring people and stories in the city, that you find once you scratch under the surface- that make me love the city.