Saturday, 16 November 2013

Three newcomers


     amidst the debris of a roller-coaster week of wild excesses and celebrations, some notable green shoots have appeared. As happened around this time last year, Sheffield is once more to gain a few additions. As have I....

First on the register is a specialist beer shop opening on Abbeydale Road called Hop Hideout. The Vintedge building at number 444 houses an antiques and collect-ables shop, in which is a small unit, as well as a shop on the side next to the Broadfield pub which is to be a pop up cafe. The beer business is the brainchild of Jules and Will, who have assembled  a fairly impressive rosta of bottles to sell to a public which they hope, and I suspect will be, thirsty for interesting bottled beers.

With Stanmore Boss opening soon in Sharrow and Beer Central in the Moor markets hot on its heels, and with stalwarts the Archer Road Beer Stop and the Dram Shop clocking up several decades trading between them, Sheffield consumers could well find themselves spoilt for choice by the range of ales on offer, and soon, by the different places they can purchase them. And why not, since with the exception of the Sainsbury's beer hunt (assuming all the ales are stocked in the Sheffield branches, which they never seem to be), plus a handful of curios from Tesco and Waitrose, the supermarkets haven't shown much interest in having evolving ranges or selling something a bit unusual.

Whcih is good news since most micro breweries can't produce enough for the behemothic bully boys so that ought to leave the market open for them to produce and sell small quantities of quality bottled products to equally small independent retailers.

And Hop Hideout is certainly small. Perfectly filling the tiny room in Vintedge the hideout boasts shelving for what I estimate would be 100 bottles, with understated and (gleefully for me) black decor, featuring iconic Magic Rock advertisements, which make it seem cosy and, well, hidden. The shop officially opens today from 12.00 - here is a link to their blog which also has links to all their social media, for further details.

One thing that will be interesting about this new clutch of beer shop babies will be the prices. Its too early to comment on Hop Hideout's pricing policies as they were still formulating them last night but thinking of established specialist beer shops outside Sheffield, and the bottled beer range in places like the Tap and DAda and the Old House, there seems to be rather distasteful love of overcharging. I understand the gamble - that the sheer uniqueness or rarity will persuade customers to dutch their usual price expectations - but this rouse is very misleading and could, indeed should, result in retailers being bitten on the bum. Not literally...

Which subject nicely leads me to another clutch of newcomers - this time in the form of some other Bokkuls. Of bowze. Which came by magic flying elephant all the way from the island of Santorini.

At the invitation of Chala I was offered the chance to buy half a mixed case of donkey beers form the island's Santorini Brewing Company. Initial interest was sparked by the idea that the beer was actually made by donkeys but alas this was a fanciful flight from sense. Of course it wasn't. It was made by men on an island with almost no natural soutce of almost all the ingredients required to make beer. Cue costs...

Without immersing you in the sordid details its fair to say the initial price quoted by Santorini Brewing Company, which I agreed to "against my better judgement" was, in reality, even higher. The main sticking point was the shipping, which added a very hefty charge onto the tab, not helped by our having such a small order. Oh, and there was the cost in worry - because I'd never drunk a donkey beer in my life. In any sense of the words.

To her credit Chala correctly identified the beers as being very nice indeed - the Yellow Donkey reminds me of the almost unfindable Columba wheat beer which I love - but they chuffing want to be nice considering the cost....

 The beers are unfiltered and unpasteurised and frighteningly easy to drink - but unlike old style Greek beers, they are packed full of ingredients and flavours. I have tried the Yellow and Red Donkey and have one of each left to share with Davefromtshop along with a 750ml bottle of Crazy Donkey which is a 6.5% IPA. On the basis of the other beers tried and the excellent produce of Septem and Volkan I'm expecting a very tasty brew - its just a shame that, irrespective of shipping costs, the Donkey Brewery appear to be having a giraffe....

Mt third trio is just one. This will make sense I promise. Mr Stephens, the multi millionaire pub magnate, has now added a preposterous third venue to his unstoppable, ever growing, pub monopoly. Three! I ask you! Three pubs in Sheffield...he virtually runs all of them...(see "Thornbridge"). The latest boozer to get the Mr Andrew treatment is the Three Tuns on Silver Street Head in the city centre.

An iconic building featuring an interesting internal layout and which seemingly has always sold eal ale, the Tuns is a Sheffield institution. Not in a mental hospital way you understand, but in that it seems to have a place in the hearts of plenty of drinkers in the Steel city. Great news then that the place has received a tidy up and started selling brownies (I realise the sale of brownies alone is not the only prerequisite to a pub being good...) and has continued selling real ales.

Last night's secret reopening (?) featured some fine ales including two from Raw Brewery. Myself and Miss N both opted for the Dark Peak Stout which was on excellent form and decent value for the centre at £3.00 a pint. Plans afoot which I have secured access to via torture and surveillance include not changing very much really, and continuing to sell things that are already sold.

Knowing from first hand experience how excellent the Closed Shop has become and the Rutland has remained it looks like a positive development that the Three Tuns is to be an Andrew-inn. However, for once, not as a direct result of too much beer, I actually don't have many details about this development. So  heartily recommend you pop down and take a look at the pub for yourself.


Wee Beefy


  1. For the love of God tell us how much the Donkey beers actually were then!!

  2. I'm really not sure I can Dave. I mean, its like saying you bought an original Hendrix album for twice its value - a nice thing to have but anyone hearing it will be saying "why in the name of Satan did you not refuse to buy it?!"

    Anyhoo, The original price quoted was £6.45 including shipping, which was the expensive part, since the original prices of the two 330ml bottles were €3 and €3.50 each. The larger 700ml Crazy Donkey however, was not quoted initially, so came through at a preposterous €12.50 without shipping. Meaning it was fully €4.00 more expensive from the brewery than on a Greek beer website I found. Am afarid that's all I can bare to admit to. This has been very painful...!..