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Image courtesy of Abbeydale Brewery
Abbeydale Brewery director Dan Baxter has kindly been in touch to answer some questions thrown up by my recent trip to the Sheffielder's latest enterprise, The Devonshire Cat.
So as a companion piece to my earlier trip report here is a question and answer session with the sales manager and brewer.
Ale Ambler (AA): When & why did you take over the Dev Cat on Wellington Street?

Dan Baxter (DB): We took over the Devonshire Cat from January 3, 2014. Abbeydale are always on the lookout for other pubs to buy but we are very specific on the premises. We'd always look at free hold leases ie. not tied to any pub co. & any place that has a good reputation. The fact that Dev Cat is a city centre venue was the icing on the cake.

AA: What is the usual mix of Abbeydale/Dr Mortons and guests on the bar. I didn't see any Acorn specials which I normally associate with the pub?

DB: The mix of cask beers is relatively simple. I gather all "guest" beers through swapping with other breweries. It's a good business model. Some local breweries don't swap though so unfortunately we couldn't keep all the previous range on.
Our Deception has always been a strong seller so it made sense to keep that on. The Devonshire Cat Bitter (previously Bradfield Brown Cow Bitter) we replaced with our best bitter Daily Bread and replaced Thornbridge Jaipur with our Absolution.

We set up a deal with Blue Bee Brewery where we swap beer every week in order to keep their Lustin' for Stout on which is re-badged as Devonshire Cat Stout. So, four "house" beers - three of which are our own.
As for Acorn, we swap often and take all their new IPAs that they brew but ultimately that has freed up another guest pump for us so they have eight rotating guest pumps now & we can showcase our own weekly Abbeydale/Dr. Morton's specials.

AA: One beer that caught my eye was your first keg beer, Pale Ale #1. I loved it & I'm well & truly a cask man. Please can you tell me why you ventured into the keg market & what's in the beer?

DB: We call it "craft keg" which for some reason rubs a lot of CAMRA folk up the wrong way. They say "What's craft anyway!" My response so far has been, "Anything which is hand made." It may even be in the dictionary saying something similar.
It's also unfiltered meaning we've kept all the impurities (hop, yeast & protein matter) & when dispensed at lower temp will appear hazy.
The fact that it's Keg just distinguishes how it's packaged. It's the same beer, the only difference is how it's dispensed in the pubs cellar using Co2.
We transfer beer out of fermenter, into a "Bright beer tank" (the same as we do with cask intended beer) but allow it to lager for 14 days on hops. Thus increasing the amount of dissolved Co2. Superior shelf-life aside, reason for kegging? Cos it's cool! We now have an additional product to sell to existing customers who may like to replace something on their bar with a more local alternative.

AA: Finally, What are your plans for the pub, I've heard talk of a refit?

DB: Yes, we will be making some small changes here and there. We are currently planing a complete bar re-fit in an attempt to tidy up the keg offering.

Post script: Many thanks to Dan for taking time out to answer my questions. Here is a link to the earlier post on The Devonshire Cat: