its true to say that February has been resplendent - sunny days as often as howling storms, excellent ales poured straight form the cask, forced by gas pressure from a container or through a stout metal stick, or even poured from a glass container into another unsealed glass container. All have graced my days. Not to mention some first goes, which I have compiled below.
With some spare time to kill recently I made my way to the Nursery Tavern on Ecclesall Road. I had previously celebrated the Nursery's renown and its revolting horror with others without ever actually having visited it. As it was, I was in the right place about the right time and it seemed safe to pop in.
Outside its fairly as you'd expect. I'm not sure of the pub's history but I know it looks on the outside at least to be a 1920's or 1930's pub. Inside it smells of food, as you might expect given its position on Eccy Road, and there is a long bar on your left, a little similar to the old bar at the Hallamshire on West Street in the early nineties. There were three real ales to choose from, I think, so I opted for a half of Moonshine. It came in at £1.50 a half. It tasted fine, and I sat down on a comfy leather seat watching the door with a nineteen thirties style fireplace on my left. It wasn't bad, to be honest. But it was 16.00. On a Monday. I must pop back in on a Friday.....
Also on Eccy Road is Thornbridge's pub/bar/kitchen/restaurant/??? Graze Inn, seen on their website here. It was also that same Monday, it was also very quiet - and it also didn't warrant a real ale since only Brother Rabbit and Lord Marples were on. Sigh. Following the signs on the left to the "bar" I noticed it was quite un-pubby and quite...empty. I decided to try a half of the Chiron since it had tasted of lavender in the DAda the other night. Here the Chiron was also wrong but in a slightly less wrong way. The pub was in some ways engagingly quiet, and had I not been heading back into town I could have stayed to lap up the silence a little longer. I did not.
Once in town I went to Beer Central. One of the fears I expressed on Facefriend when I heard about this amazing new beer shop was prices. After all, if you have the money you can probably get any beer in the world - but it would cost you a bloody fortune. With Dave valiantly struggling on at the Archer Road Beer Stop it seemed only right to see if his second nearest competitor had his head screwed on. He did.
Row after row of shelves starting with sensibly priced (and very inexpensively priced) local beers then spreading out to huge numbers of UK beers, the tiny shop is set out in a perfect way. You'll either find a £2.50, £3.00 or £3.50 shelf (there are a few mixed) and there are tons of unusual London brews, and lots else from the UK and abroad, to delight in. I decided today was a saison day and so opted to select a "Brew by Numbers" Motueka and lime saison. It was chuffing marvelous, I can confirm. It was really very nice indeed. It was, maybe, £2.95 a bottle and so perhaps a smidgen too much but it was very drinkable. Only about 6 more saison to try now from there....!
The final stop was the night before and that was the Cavendish. Admittedly I had been in the Cav before but that was under sufferance on a team Christmas party a couple of times in the last ten years so this was my first time on my own. They had something major, like maybe Greedy King OSH, and Moonshine on Cask, with two more spaces waiting to be filled. On Keykeg, their "craft" range included 4 Keykegs at very reasonable prices. I had a half of the Red Willow heartless stout and a half of the Magic Rock Cannonball at 7.2% for about £3.50. The Red Willow was good, but not exceptional, and the Cannonball was grim at first but when replaced turned out to be very nice indeed. It may seem a little weird to sudden;y throw the pub into the mash up over Keykeg and craft, but at least it shows, if nowt else in terms of price (the Cannonball was, I think, £4.30 a pint), that thee are more than two sides to the price war. Good on the Cavendish for giving Keykeg a try. Go there and try it!
So the above shows that your expensive, awkward and possibly overpriced Keykeg nonsense doesn't just have to be found near the station, and also that you can have a quiet and enjoyable pint on Ecclesall Road - although it has to be a Monday Either way, the main message is that tasty cask or Keykeg ale is becoming even easier to find in Sheffield, and you can often enjoy the two with some very nice food. Making it, once again, a rather marvelous place to go supping.