Saturday, 30 July 2011

Wee Beefy's beer bites


recent activity surrounding beer and pubs has been frantic so am going to give you a few small tit-bits to try and cover all that's been going on.

BrewDog vs Asda

Asda recently put up the cost of the reduced strength Punk IPA to over £2.30 a bottle. Responsible you might think - but its still in the 3 for £4.00 offer. Once more Asda's alcohol irresponsibility reigns supreme - the less you buy, and the weaker alcohol in the beer you buy, the more expensive it is. Genius.

Shakespeare Gibraltar Street Shalesmoor

Work continues on the interior and upstairs rooms in particular, bookings are now coming in for bands to play in the large upstairs function room, where a bar is hoped to be installed in the future. A good range of local beers has always been available on my 4 visits so far, last night I had Abbeydale Deception, Spire Dark Side of he Moon, and not so local but the best of the lot, Hornbeam Black Coral Stout. The new signage is half up - one is waiting to presumably go on the side wall; and this identifies the pub as Shakespeares Ale and Cider House.

Welbeck Abbey Brewery

Continue to get their beers into Sheffield, having been seen at the Harlequin, Shakespeares (to reflect their new signage and differentiate between them and the Olde Shakespeare on Well Road Heeley ) and the Old House. Their First Brew was very quaffable at the Harlequin, and their low gravity session beer Henrietta at 3.6% was the stand out beer of an evening at the Old House recently. Me and Davefromtshop caught a pint of the surprisingly heavy ruby biter Red Feather at Shakespeares last week as well. Although they have excellent mentors and distributors in the form of Kelham Island brewery, its noticeable how quickly they have created a recognisable brand, and found that crucial consistency and quality. See their blog on this site or follow

Toad Brewery

The flip side of the Welbeck story is the demise of short lived Doncaster brewery Toad, who have gone into liquidation. I rarely found their beers and I have to say that when I did I was likewise rarely impressed. Perhaps their apparent intention to supply the unusual/one off guest beer market caught them out - an over ambitious beer roster maybe contributed to a lack of consistency and a prevalence at beer festivals. A shame for South Yorkshire to lose a brewery though.

Robin Hood

News of their impending conversion to luxury housing has drawn a few people together to visit - a friend of mine told me he'd met his now wife when she was working behind the bar there and was off for a final visit last week, meanwhile I have finally visited with Davefromtshop - his first visit, and let countless other people know through the debatable wonders of Facebook. Get to the Robin Hood before August Bank Holiday weekend and see what you'll miss.

Wick At Both Ends West Street Sheffield

Two recent visits have seen Sheffield Brewery Tramlines and Thornbridge Sequoia on hand pump, served in handled beer mugs as beer should be - top marks for that. As well as a decent range of music I was also able to experience some excellent bottles of Budels Alt and some offerings from Goose Island brewery. The only drawback is - no beer menu! Sort us a list out The WABe and more people will buy your range of beers.

Old House Devonshire Street

Table service is on offer at the Old House and some very very nice food at sensible prices for the quality provided. Flowers IPA, a beer enigma in that you can rarely be sure where its brewed or by whom, along with Bradfield Farmers Stout, seem to be regular features on the bar now, with the total number of handpumps increased to 5. Drinks offers on Weekdays until eight and large for small wines until nine mean it needn't be extortionate to drink their either.

Tramlines festival beers

I got to a few pubs at Tramlines - more pubs than I saw bands actually, and sampled some decent beer along the way. The Abbeydale Deception at Harrisons 1854 was in fantastic form, perhaps helped by its quick turnover with the venue 8 thick at the bar at times. The Red House was offering two beers including Hancocks HB and Marstons EPA, Shakespeares of course had the biggest range of those tried and I had a very nice pint of something low gravity and pale from Acorn, then there were about 5 beers at CADS in Shalesmoor for the blues and ale festival, including the Tramlines beer and Brimstone from Abbeydale. Our final stop was the Red Deer which was offering, from a range of 7, a very nice pint of Moorhouses Blonde Witch, and serving til gone midnight - showing you can get decent real ale after 11PM.

More news soon, and, I promise, more of my Scotland adventure...


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Shakespeare, Gibraltar Street Shalesmoor reopens; Robin Hood and Anvil, little Matlock and Stannington


I was heading out to the Robin Hood with Mr P earlier and spotted signs of life at the Shakespeare, which seemed to have been dormant until quite recently, following the announcement that it had been bought by the owner of the New Beehive, Bradford. Mr P spotted a sign announcing its reopening, and we added it to our list of venues for the evening.

Arriving about 21.00 we found the main bar packed out, and the room to the left empty but for its seating and a generous table of nibbles - although as noted by many, for a Sheffield pub launch, there were precious few items of cutlery available to divvy up the quiche....

Furnishings and fittings are basic tables and old chairs with bare flag floors throughout, making it quite echoey in places. This crisp resonance, along with the very real smells of fresh paint varnish and wood, means you can be in no doubt that this is a recently refurbished pub.

There were 8 handpumps dispensing local ales, including a new one from Welbeck Abbey brewery - more on that soon; and 2 real ciders in a box, as well as Continental draught beer including Bellevue Kriek. I had a pint of the Welbeck Red Leather and Mr P a half of a surprisingly dark Blue Bee Bee's Knees bitter, both of which retailed at a sensible £2.30 or so a pint.

The cosy fireplace in the wall feature behind the bar sadly seems to have disappeared, but there is another room to the right of the back of the bar, created by bricking up the former coach entrance on the right, and the loos are much improved; the smell of fresh paint possibly masked any lingering horrors, but i can safely say they were some of the worst pub toilets in Sheffield before.

Being launch night there were about 6 staff behind the bar, which is quite difficult to pull off, and i think i spotted the owner, but did not have time to ask him anything even if it were him. In the left hand room is a fabulous old clock and a number of pump clips all around the walls at dado height. The only potential downer is the fact that the Wards window in here appears to have been lost - perhaps broken ?

Its always a risky business reopening and working in an old pub with an unspoilt or old interior, and the loss of the window - its sibling still visible on the right as you look at the pub - is a real shame. That said, there is now a subtle and attractive new sign outside and the room gained on the right gives more space to what I hope will be throngs of drinkers visiting the pub from now on. There is also a large beer yard/area to the rear.

The pub was getting busier as we left before 22.00, and it looks like even at this early stage there is potential to make something of a business that successive pub companies failed or perhaps wanted to fail at making successful. Here's wishing the Speare (sorry) all the very best for the future.

Robin Hoodoo
As part of my succession of visits to the pub between now and August bank holiday, I continued tonight by taking Mr P to the pub at Little Matlock near Stannington. Luckily they had real ale on but only one, a very nice pint of Yorkshire Farmer. We sat outside defying the threat of rain for most of our visit before heading inside.

The beer situation appears to be that they get a delivery Friday each week, and put the beer straight on - not sure if this is ideal - and its clear that they are operating a hand to mouth ordering system, since on my visit tomorrow I will be having more beer from the same 9 on tonight if I am to get any at all. I understand the need to keep the cellar stocks light but this risks running out of beer, which, as mentioned before, if you don't do food Wednesday and Thursdays, is surely a key component in keeping customers there and buying ?

After we walked back along Greaves lane to the Anvil on Stannington Road. The makeover is complete and doesn't seem to have radically altered the layout i have seen on my last few visits. There are 4 beers on, Kelham, Bradfield Blonde, Lees Bitter with Black Sheep on soon. Not a life changing selection, but both the Lees and the Blonde were very well kept.

More info on Scotland and Welbeck Abbey brewery soon.

Wee Beefy.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Robin Hood Little Matlock update - real ale misery.


as some of you may know I went to the Robin Hood on Thursday 14th July for a "last visit" (although ironically am going next Thursday with the Daves, but that's another story) and also sent info to numerous people to make them aware that the pub was closing, so that they could aim to get there in the next few weeks.

I now know that the pub will close on August Bank Holiday Monday - assumedly at about midnight that day, and that this is definite. This does of course helpfully give people a bit of notice and may mean a few more of you get chance to visit.

The visit last night was brief, somewhat scuppered by an unexpected disaster. Having got my friend lost driving us there in the car (which is a trademark Wee Beefy error) we arrived at about 6PM to find all 3 pump clips turned round. The lass behind the bar claimed Burton Bridge bitter was on but that was not the case, so all that was available was a very strong Westons cider.

Now, i do like cider, especially draught cloudy (or clear ) stuff, but crucially I like cider that is not carbonated. However, despite this admission, cider is not a first of the evening 6PM drink. So whilst Mr G had a coke I opted for a half of dreadful keg Stones, for which I will surely pay my price in beer hell. Given that we were expecting a couple of other people, this was bad news, although I phoned them and told them we were nipping to the Nags Head instead. This meant I had a brief chance to drink my grim brew outside whilst cursing the lack of ale.

The barman told us that they'd cleared out the cellar and that anything old had been thrown away and that they were expecting a delivery tomorrow. This raises a few questions. How old was the beer that was thrown away? Was this a result of new limited opening hours/days? Does this mean that beer is left to stand for as little as a matter of hours before being put on? And does this mean that things have become so dire that they operate a hand to mouth beer ordering system ?

Either way no matter how much the barman told me how unlucky we were and what would be on the next day, I couldn't mask my disappointment. And what if I had travelled a huge distance to this pub for a delicious pint after work ? Considering they don't serve food Thursdays, without anything decent to drink I couldn't see them generating much trade. Grrr....

The Nags at Loxley was much better, having 5 real ales on at £1.80 a pint, including the 6% pale ale "Sixer". This is where we stayed for a few and were joined by Christingpher, who is soon to lose 1 of his 4 nearby pubs. Hopefully the rogue introduction of the keg impostor at the Robin Hood was not the cause of my bug which kept me in bed most of today, and even if it wasn't, it surely still serves as a salutary warning about the dangers of not drinking real ale.

Lets hope the Robin Hood gets its act together for next week so Davefromtshop can finally enjoy a pint of real ale in there.

Wee Beefy.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Robin Hood, Greaves Lane, Little Matlock, between Stannington and Loxley.

Last Chance to see


the above named pub will finally shut its doors this summer, after a long history of refreshing huntsman, hikers and Hillsborough folk out and about for a century and a half. No confirmation has been provided of the final date of trading yet, but this is set to be the last summer of trading at this venerable institution that has been a feature of my life for many years.

I used to go to the Robin Hood when I was a chab (note, not a chav, this was the late seventies/early eighties and a bling wearing social underclass did not exist ) - I clambered all over the garden, in particular a rock feature which was likely not intended for that purpose, whilst my Mum and Dad got refreshments inside.

In the 90's me and my friend Jon (R.I.P) walked out there one evening on a Crookes to Loxley walk and had a few pints before walking all the way home, I got the impression he liked the pub if not the slog back; and me and Carlos got out there a good few times before the noughties (this is an era, not a period of immoral actions ).

I worked at Gloystarne Distribution in Rotherham during the period 1996 to 2003 and one of the Wentworth warehouse managers at the time ended up with responsibility for the pub as his parents had owned and run it ptrviously. This was the start of an uncertain and likely real ale free period when I did not visit, other than once with Chala on one of our first walks together.

Then, about 7 years agop, the pub was taken over and started doing decent but simple British pub meals and offering 3 real ales. Wee Fatha used to go there regularly with his friend and I even went there with Chala's Dad, one of the last couple of meals out we shared before he died in 2007. A year or so after we went with Mum and Martin for a meal after they renewed their vows, and last year I went with Christingpher in a February hike from his Loxley gaffe, to find delicious olives as bar snacks and excellent dark Burton Bridge ale available.

This year I have returned to walking in Crookes, Rivelin Loxley and Bradfield and so have been may times to the pub, which has simultaneously offered excellent beers and hospitality whilst being a resolute feature in my ever changing social and family affairs.

To hear that it is finally to close due to lack of trade is a real blow. Any pub closure is bad news but such an interesting venue in such an eclectic location is a crying shame. On my visits this year I have seen a fantastic range of real ales including sometimes two dark from the range of 3, and this serves only to highlight the loss of this great building and pub business.

In order to try and come to terms with this disappointment, and to make use of the limited opportunities likely afforded to celebrate whats great about this pub, i am going on Thursday 14th July in the evening and hopefully Thursday 21st July in the day, to walk round, breathe in the atmosphere and take in the noble provenance of this hostelry before its too late.

Its not a protest, its not a resigned wake to mark a dreadful passing, not even a frustrated homily, just a good idea where people get to visit together, where otherwise their normal drinking patterns would mean they miss out on the opportunity to do so.

There are full details on my facebook page, which I am trying to make a link to - I am registered under Wee Beefy with full public access as far as I know.

So, in short, lets go to celebrate a history of public beer provision in the area of Loxley and Stannington which Mr Halliday all those years ago likened to Matlock, and raise a glass to all those who have drunk there before us.

Wee Beefy