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St Mars of the Desert: American-owned brewery opening in Attercliffe

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A new 1,000-litre brewery and taproom is to open in Attercliffe. The Brewery of St Mars of the Desert will produce keg and bottled beer, with handmade labels screen-printed on site.

"We're focusing on naturally carbonating our beers," said Dann Paquette, who owns the brewery with his wife Martha. "We're capturing CO2 either in fermentation tanks or in the bottle. We're a bit obsessed over European hops, which are not the trendy hops at the moment."

I asked Paquette why they hadn't opted for the American hops that are currently in vogue. "There's 6,000 breweries in the US and they're largely all doing the same thing," he said. "Wherever we were going to build this we were going to be doing our own thing."

The brewery's first beer is called Cito, a hoppy pale of 4%. "Beer names are starting to run out," Paquette tells me, "so we're doing a bit of Latin. Cito just means to set off or get going."

The second will be called Lupé, a citrusy 5% beer that will feature constantly changing hops, starting with Mandarina Bavaria from Germany.

We're a bit off-centre in terms of what we want to do

Hailing from Boston, the couple considered sites across the US and Europe before choosing Sheffield.

"We ended up coming to Sheffield pretty late in the game and we were surprised that it seemed like such an incredible place to live, as well as to build a brewery," said Paquette. "In most places it was one or the other."

The city's reputation for beer also appealed. "There's already such a big brewing community here and an even older history of great brewing," Paquette told me. "We're a bit off-centre in terms of what we want to do. Having a big community of other brewers around helps us to slot in and make our own space.

"On top of everything else it reminds me of Boston. As soon as I saw hoards of students walking up towards Broomhill, it felt like I was back in Harvard Square."

The brewery features a small taproom licenced for 25 people, which they plan to open in the new year at their Stevenson Road site in Attercliffe.

The pair chose the unusual name after originally planning to site the brewery at the town of Saint-Mars-du-Désert in western France.

"We never found a name that was better," said Paquette. "It has this great feeling of being the ultimate outsiders. We're not in the centre of town or near anything - it's a bit of a desert."

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Sam Gregory

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