Friday, 13 April 2012

A pub crawl of new (to some) pubs in Sheffield, Part 2

Hello again,

     here are the rest of the details of my pub crawl in shiny Sheffield. Note I didn't say sunny Sheffield. Not even ironically. As some of the pictures may identify, it was a very wet evening for going out walking between pubs....

The Hop

The idea was to take Davefromtshop to some pubs he hadn't been in before, at least not in their current guise. In all honesty, there wasn't actually enough time to do all of those that would qualify, perhaps a sign of the burgeoning number of pubs dabbling in the finer end of the beer sector. So, having been home for some important food I was actually back out and at the Hop early - Dave, on the other hand, had been there ten minutes already, and had enjoyed a half of the Goose Eye thimgymabob. I didn't have room to write down his beers until later you see.

Anyhoo, . I was once again feeling a little peculiar so had an orange juice. Dave decided to try a half of the Banks and Taylor's beer, which definitely had a name. Dave, if you're reading this, do let me know what it was...

We sat in the area normally reserved for bands looking at the increasingly dreadful wet weather outside, and I was telling myself that if I didn't feel any better after my first beer this was going to be the world's shortest pub crawl. As it turned out I realised I'd gone hypo, so we decided to set off for a shop.

Great Gatsby

This radical departure threatened to upset my carefully planned route and take up time with unlegislated errands, since we hadn't spotted anywhere to buy sugary items of any kind on West Street. Before getting to Tesco I took us down onto Devonshire Street, into the shop there and then on to our next pub, the Great Gatsby.

There were two beers on, Kelham Easy Rider and Thornbridge Sequoia. I think its interesting that this has become such a popular beer in pubs that never used to sell real ale. Usually, the transition to selling a decent pint is done subtly and seamlessly by introducing a lager type ale such as an Abbeydale beer or Farmers Blonde. Lately though, pubs seem to have been jumping at the chance to stock Sequoia, a very enjoyable dark reddish brown malty beer with resinous notes and a heavy mouthfeel. This is a very good beer of its type but its hardly a bridge between lager and Ale.

Still, looking on the bright side, many of the pubs adopting this as a regular continue to serve real ales so its got to be good. And me and Dave felt we should give it our seal of approval by having a half each (since early on we were sticking to halves to pace ourselves). As hoped, the beer was just as described above, with the malt prominent in the taste. Outside, a lake sized puddle was worrying pedestrians and drivers alike as it continued hammering it down. The Gatsby was warm and lively, a perfect antidote to the grey despair outside.

Oh, Behave

Next we went back to West Street and into the Beehive. Except for a visit with me to the Foundry and Firkin in the late nineties, the last visit Dave had made here was when it was still the Beehive. I am guessing that may have been 1992, or earlier still. In fairness, not much has changed apart from the incorporation of the adjoining building, and the beer prices now aren't likely much off what you'd have paid in its Tetley owned days. Or are they?

I say this because, having arrived at the bar, and noted that every pump has a price on the front (£1.99) plus a blackboard proclaiming all ales £1.99, we expected to be paying that for our two halves of Beehive bitter, brewed by Blue Bee. The barman started to say something then changed his mind and pulled our beers. He then said that what he'd intended to advise us was it was actually £2.40 a pint if you bought it in halves because it was only £1.99 a pint.

This throws up a few interesting issues. Firstly, its hardly an incentive to drink sensibly if all beers are the same price regardless of strength (and that's not a complaint!) but buying only half a beer costs you more. Also, saying that beer is £1.99 a pint but not mentioning half pint measure prices is cheeky. If you can find space to advertise the pint price (especially on a blackboard) you can find space to be honest about the price of a half, especially if it turns out that relying on the barstaff to inform you (and they should still be advising that prior to pulling your beer even if the half price is advertised) isn't working.

However, looking at this rationally, an advertisement stating that real ale is £1.99 a pint is semantically correct. I like that. Also, since when was £2.40 an expensive pint in town? It was that price in there two weeks ago. My advice would be to be more honest, but I shalln't lose any sleep over it.

Me and Dave retired to a comfy spot to update our beer lists, catch up on texts and plan the route. The Beehive bitter may be a unique beer am not sure, but its incredibly similar to their Bees Knees if not. Mind you, given that we expected to see Blue Bee in the Gatsby it was nice to get what we were after.

The 1854

Round the corner next to Harrisons1854 in a brightly wet dusk, and I was greeted by people aware of my slip of foot foolishness from the night before. I usually ask Barraharri for a recommendation re what real ale has been selling best, but having enjoyed the Blonde Wednesday I ordered two pints of that, having agreed with Dave to break our halves rule. Having asked him to find a seat I was then having a brief chat with Barraharri and Bob when Dave came to ask if I'd tried the beer - one sniff worried me, and it tasted grim.

Basically, Bob was in the process of finding out if the new (old) beer he had (re)connected was any good. Unfortunately that process was unfinished (started?) and we had been the guinea pigs for the plan. The beer was off, so we plumped for Moonshine instead. Dave remarked that it didn't taste of Moonshine, and I thought it tasted unusual, but it was OK. Bob then brought us over a free half each of a new barrel of Blonde.

This was a kind gesture but we were both still in half mode really so not all the beer was drunk. The Moonshine however improved slightly as it went down, and the Blonde tasted OK to me, so in the end we had an enjoyable catch up in here and a good rest before setting off again in the dry (then immediately the wet!)


I took Dave the quick way to Dada as a seasoned traveller of the route, and when we got in, after first being virtually knocked out by the heat, we noted that the beer range was par excellence. Thornbridge Wild Swan and Harry Noir, Magic Rock Rapture and Black Arts. Admittedly, my joy at spotting this did temporarily make me forget that I'd had it on Good Friday in the Tap, but nonetheless I was really pleased to see it. Dave got a half of the Wild Swan, and me the smoked meat darkness of Harry Noir and we repaired to the left hand room to devour them.

This was Dave's first visit to Dada (and possibly even Trippets?) although of course that is implicit in the post title, and it was also one of few occasions he'd had Wild Swan, and his first taste of Harry Noir. All too soon the camera was out and I was trying to capture our visit through a pint glass - as I always do (with varying levels of success).

Soon we were sharing a half of the two magic Rock beers - since both of us would otherwise probably have gone for Black Arts. This was a really good idea, since I remembered Dave had rated the Rapture on the brewery launch night (less than a year ago, it seems ages ago!) and I was impressed by how much hoppy bite it had, balanced out with the interesting array of malts used. Being old friends, it was easy to share by putting both halves on the Jaipur advert table top in front of us and helping ourselves at will. The Dark Arts, as perhaps goes without saying was excellent. In fact, I might even venture that it tasted better than at the Tap (sharp intake of breath). All in all a very enjoyable visit.

Henry the hungry beer monster

Next it was up the alleyway to West Street, down Carver Street, Back lane and out next to Cutlers then into Henry's. Here too someone had won a years supply of central heating and was intent on using most of it, and the whole place smelled very strongly pf smoked food, like someone was warming a pot of Harry Noir over some wood chips. On the bar were ten real ales and two ciders with plenty to catch the eye.

We started with a half each of White Horse Bitter for me and Maypole Wellow Gold for Dave. The White Horse was a refreshing malty bitter, admittedly perhaps better suited to being the first beer of the evening. The Wellow was a lighter refreshing beer that Dave said had a very distinct flavour of apples. I concur, Dave reckons this is perhaps a new hop variety giving the flavour since he's noticed it in quite a few beers lately - perhaps I was picking some up in Archangel on Wednesday?

Next up a half of Imperial Brewery Imperial Stout for me and a half of the Oldershaw Alchemy for Dave (£2.80). The stout was delicious, if a little less well balanced than prevoiusly, but, after a worrying pause, Dave declared the Oldershaw the best beer of the night so far. I tried it and there was a mass of flavours present from fruity bitterness to stronger warming flavours that came through one by one in a very large mouthfeel. This was a very enjoyable beer to round off our visit to Henry's.

Tap Speed

We were quickly down at our final destination, the Sheffield Tap. Dave and me have been in here loads of times, so at the risk of leeching credibility from my criterion, its best to confess that fact, and point out that the beer in the Tap is fab, and Dave doesn;t go in that often, so whay not?

Originally we had intended to have a pint of real ale each and then to finish with a half each of some of the keykeg, likely the Nogne. However, Dave really only had about 25 minutes before he needed to sprint for his bus, so whilst I got a pint of Marble Stout he went for halves of Thornbridge Pivni (3.2%), Marble Draft (3.9%,) and Peak Ales Summer Sovereign (4.0%)

We aimed to go in the rooms furthest from the bar but they were closed - I reckon they "shut them" near to closing time to make it easier to get people out. I have to say that the maniacal enthusiasm of their drinking up and closing time policy is admirable in its efficiency, but surprisingly and annoyingly rigorous in equal measure. Anyhoo, it wasn't too busy so we got sat down in the panelled room at the entrance and started trying the beer.

Thornbridge Pivni is their inexpensive session beer. Its 3.2% and tastes it. Perhaps the wheat malt in the beer means it doesn't really work, i.e its too light and lemony without having a bit of alcoholic (and balancing malt and hop) oomph in it. The Peak Ales, which Dave liked, was really most disappointing. Maybe it suffered form the Marble and Magic Rock assault from earlier, but even at 4% it was woefully lacking in body or flavour for me. I fully understand the draw of a lighter beer in Summer (whatever that is) but there has to be something to carry it off and this didn't seem to have it.

The Stout was just as good as earlier and the Marble Draft was a revelation. At 3.9% the same strength as Pint, but with much more assertive hop bite and a really nice malt flavour that complimented rather than defined the beer.

Alas Dave had to escape just before they called time, but not before we had agreed on our beers of the night - Magic Rock Dark Arts and Oldershaw Alchemy. Two brilliant examples of the brewers art purchased in two very different venues in Sheffield - a great place to drink beer!


Wee Beefy


  1. Great to see some of the lesser known bars shown up here, even 1 that i didnt know that served real ale. Shame you missed out the rutland and devonshire cat though?

  2. Well, it was probably not clear but I was basically taking Dave to some pubs he'd never been to - and the some people of the title relates to the fact that as well as Dave, my mate earlier on that day had also not been in the Sheffield Tap. Would have been in the Cat or the Rutland had Dave not been in before, alas, only new ones allowed yer see...

    Mind you, the more I think about it the less obvious it seems, hmmm, clearly an example of my having the idea in my head and assuming everyone on earth knew it already!
    (and, its perhaps best not to mention that Dave has been to the Tap before. And Harisons 1854. Oh dear. Best re-title)

  3. interesting about that strange pricing method....!

    1. Yeah, like I said, £2.40 a pint isn't exactly expensive in the city centre, but it seems a bit of a trick - no doubt those missing the finer details of the halves price will subsidise the pint drinkers.

      Its similar to supermarkets making stronger beer or beer in larger quantities cheaper than weaker beer or smaller quantities. Not that I minded the weekend before on Thornbridge Kipling at less than two quid....