Jun 10 2015
Don’t you just LOVE the word “micturate”?
Some things just fall into your lap.
At the excellent EastWestFest recently – and whilst applying some serious hammer to the Five Towns’ May Day DIPA, myself, The Arch Nemesis and the mighty Deeekos had (apparently?) agreed to a pub crawl to a) Celebrate an excellent little festival of Northern beer, and b) Act as a counterpoint to the one I took Malcolm & pals on in Mancunia.
So, last Saturday, I battled my way through the throngs of young ladies headed to Parklife festival and off on to an absolutely PACKED train (thankful for reservations!) to Sheffield.
Now then. To me, this felt mightily weird. I am ordinarily the one who organises the pub crawls, but, on this occasion, my liver was in the hands of another. So it was with some trepidation that I fell out of the train (along with what felt like half of Berlin) and stumbled into the doors of this….
The Sheffield Tap (Sheffield Train Station)
WOW. Seriously WOW. I presume that Malcolm and Charlie suggested this as an easy meeting point. And it was. But WOW. This is the most beautiful drinking venue I’ve entered since the ground level bar at Prague’s Opera House.
I lost count of the rooms. As you can gather from the WOW count, I was stunned. So many people had told me how lovely this place is, but they didn’t do it justice. The beer was utterly incidental to the experience. But the beer WAS excellent too. I went for a quick pint of Tapped Brew Co (Brewed on the premises?) which, at 5.2% was rich, with a residual treacle sweetness more than balanced by that excellent bitterness that is present in the best stouts.
So. You get the idea. This place is unmissable. And, given a few hours to drink in its charms, would be worth the train fair on its own. But, this was a crawl. And I WAS guaranteed to be back later….
Charlie (a.k.a. @AleAmbler) was the man with my liver in his hands (not literally – that would be a bit messy) and our guided tour of Sheffield’s finest started via a Tram to Fitzalan Square, then a replacement bus service Y7 to Shalesmoor and the first of several stunning traditional pubs….The journey was more than worth it….
The Wellington Inn (Henry Street, off A61 Penistone Road)
A really unprepossessing exterior hides the charms of this pub SO well. And BTW, the image at the top comes from here.
This multi-roomed gem is my idea of a traditional pub. A place with a heart and bucket loads of soul. It was also, until recently, the home of a brewery whose beers I had never sampled, The Little Ale Cart Brewery. The friendly bloke behind the bar also told me that Steel City used to brew here too. The place was just so quirky, I loved it.
I had to try Little Ale Cart. And with three to choose from, I opted for Brewer’s Meddley. A little 4% pale number. What a lovely pale ale! Pale gold, really citrussy with a nice hoppy kick. A corker. And a brewery added to my #ISBF2015 list.
(The place was full of cute knick knacks – Except Thatcher. Not cute.)
With chatting to Bob, Scott, Malcolm & Charlie, I just gave up on tasting notes and let the day flow on its natural course. So forgive their lack! It was just great to shoot the breeze with these top folk from the losing side in the Roses War….*ducks flying stick of rhubarb*
As I’ve said, this is my kind of pub and well worth the trip alone. The older I get (or the more into this blogging crap that I get) I just CRAVE pubs with soul. This has it. And great beer. Go.
The next few pubs were all in walking distance from The Wellington….
And first, a world famous classic.
The Fat Cat (Alma Street, Kelham Island)
Located in the industrial area of Kelham Island that appears to be undergoing substantial redevelopment (the area NOT the pub!) this took about 5 minutes walk from The Wellington, This early 19th century pub, is small, but (as the saying goes) perfectly formed with the bar to the right upon entry and a larger room to the left, loads of lovely warm dark wooden tones in here. This just felt like it was loved.
Unsurprisingly, given its fame, it was a wee bit busier than The Wellington. And, given its location about 50 yards from the Kelham Island Brewery (being the de facto Tap), it had one or two of their beers. I had the Miami Pale Ale which had all I needed, Fruity, bitter and sharp.
(Gratuitous Beer Garden shot!)
To be fair, the food was excellent too, with a Pork & Chorizo burger nice and spicy and weighing in at £5 inc wedges and salad,
I could spout an ocean of purple prose on this place, but it would fail to do it justice. Let’s just say that it desrves that reputation. A proper pub. And Charlie was playing a blinder.
Kelham Island Tavern (Russell Street)
Just around the corner is this. Standing in proud isolation. Another famous Sheffield bastion of good beer. They just keep coming…. Two main rooms here in this 19th century pub, with a lovely tiled floor leading from the carved wooden bar (festooned with hand pumps) through to a lovely back room that led to the sun trap of a beer garden. And Sheffield was basking in the sun – as were we.
Another cracking pub, but the beer garden was the place to be here. With a superb pint of Red Mosaic, a hoppy red ale and a collab between Brass Castle and North Riding Brewery. Dry, tangy and resinous. And from Yorkshire. Which, for me, was the beery point. Yorkshire beers. (I told Atilla that this was a research trip for Salford!)
(The East West Crew)
Another lovely boozer. Sheffield was growing on me. Hugely.
Shakespeares (Gibraltar Street)
Rescued from the grip of Punch Taverns and re-opened as a free house in 2011, this large and quirky pub leaves me with one major impression. A love of music. From the old Juke in the back, to the wall of vinyl covers. There is obviously a love of music. And beer. Lots of beers here. My kinda heaven….
3 or 4 rooms to this place. Nice to see a dartboard in a city centre pub too. In use as well. Again, a beer garden (why doesn’t Manchester have more?) and its delights awaited. Accompanied by a pint of a creamy dark mild, Dark Masquerade from York’s Half Moon Brewery. Lovely beer that. Smooth, nice roasty flavours. Bit of smoky touch too.
I don’t know if Charlie had selected the prime of Sheffield’s pubs, or if this was merely a representative selection. If the latter is the case, I’m seriously jealous.
From here, Charlie humoured me. I said early on that I really wanted to meet Sean at Beer Central, the specialist beer shop in Sheffield Market. So we hopped on to the 82 bus outside Shakespeares.
No pics here I’m afraid. But what a TINY shop! And such a fantastic beer selection packed into its diminutive confines!
Nice to chat with Sean – albeit briefly, as I was preoccupied with grabbing some beer booty!
Quite WHAT I was doing grabbing a Black Jack beer in Sheffield is beyond me! Safe to say that Sean’s shop is WELL worth a visit. I could have stayed for ages….But, bidding a fond farewell, for now…..
The Rutland Arms (Brown Street)
I’ve seen this exterior described as rustic. To me, it’s a gorgeous Edwardian facade. On a triangular plot, this is another beautiful pub. Lots of wood in evidence here, the single room is quite large and almost feels like two separate spaces.
And another pub with a bloody beer garden! Come on Manchester, sort yourself out!
Now then. This was a bit of a surprise. They had 3 beers by Blue Bee Brewery. Now I had only tried this brewery for the first time at EastWestFest and was hugely impressed. The pint of Reet Pale that I had here didn’t disappoint either. Nice and refreshing to a rapidly jading palate with a good hoppyness. As was the next pint, of Mosaic by Great Heck. Fruity, juicy and sharp.
By this time, my companions from the White Rose county had taken their leave.
But, in all seriousness, WHAT an excellent day out. With fabulous company. In pubs with soul. And good people. Great beer and good people. Now ehere have I heard that before?
Thanks to Malcolm & Beverley, Bob & Anita, Scott & Toni, Jonti and most of all, the Ale Ambler himself, Charlie. These people have given me two of the finest beer related days that I’ve had in years. For which I’m really grateful.
I’m also grateful for these…..
3 x 750mls, including my current Beer of the Year. Jealous?
Best not go into the Dark Arts by Magic Rock back at the Sheffield Tap eh? Nor the Squawk IPA at Piccadilly Tap. People. This shit ain’t big. Nor is it clever. But it’s fun.
As it always should be.
Beer People Are Good People. And people matter.
See you soon.