Saturday, 30 March 2019



     a long time ago I was in my twenties. I would have been knocking on the door of the above named place an hour before it officially opened, and yet, I think its hideous modernity would have made me hate it. Twenty years later and Kommune encapsulates both the past, being housed in the former Co-op in Sheffield, and the future, in its modern way of dispensing ales and food, in a  vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. And I really enjoyed my first visit. It seems then that as I age am liking more modern venues more. That is perhaps strange. But perhaps not as strange as the reactions of others.

I should maybe first set out my stall. I am over forty and a massive fan of the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. I have been to the Luppitt Inn, Duke of York at Elton and the Colliers Arms at Mossley, and fell in love with their timeless simplicity and cared for beauty. I also drink beer in all formats, from gravity mild to soupy keg, and from can or bottle. Having estranged myself from the needless pre-judgemental nonsense espoused by the Campaign for Real Complaining, I am now much happier in my drinking and much more focused on what beer tastes like and whether or not I like how it tastes. And I think this in some ways enabled me to enjoy Kommune more than people with their own expectations. I mean, lets not get started on expectation versus delivery....

I should point out that cost is a consideration for us all. And this is where expectation can play a villainous role. For clarity, I couldn't afford to go on the opening night as I had no money. Visiting on payday however, I had no concerns about prices and wasn't shocked or horrified by any. I have a friend who didn't like their first visit for reasons including the cost of a burger. And because Hop Hideout was shut when they arrived. I have to say I can understand their disappointment with the latter. I went straight to Jules and Will's venue when I arrived and as ever they did not disappoint. I didn't let the concerns expressed over food prices affect me though, and had I had more time I would have happily eaten there.

I met two friends from work as I came in and they literally left after five minutes because they said that the place made them feel uneasy. I was at the very least surprised. Yes I made a number of jokes about it being a hipster creche, and admitted that I felt old, but in all honesty these concerns were quickly eroded as I sat with friends, drinking excellent ale. I was on a fruity tropical pale from Ridgeside and it was delicious. I decided not to start on the Cloudwater and Veil Brewing Chubbles as it is 10%, but it is still one of the best beers I have ever had...

I should also point out that I didn't go to the main bar so I can't comment on its range, cost, or service. These are all important factors in your appreciation of a venue and as always Hop Hideout excelled, making me enjoy my visit all the more. Am hoping that as the venue beds in any creases in the tablecloth of customer service can be ironed out.

I have to say that as well as the range of beers I saw at Hop Hideout  I was pleased with the range of ages and cultures I saw in Kommune even more. Its easy to promote a venue as inclusive and welcoming but harder for this to play out in reality. The combo of food hall and bars is perhaps what makes this possible, I think it removes the barriers that people put up regarding their expectations of both or either. If I was in a traditional pub I would be unhappy if a family with kids turned up, just as I may recoil at the idea of people drinking and being noisy when I am eating. For some reason I didn't have any concerns about the interactions or behaviours of others here. Its rare to find a venue that offers that kind of peace and reassurance.

The last thing I will say is that Sheffield continues to slowly catch up with other great beer cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and others, regarding the type of venue that you can enjoy a beer in. I don't want to sound like am flogging an ideal, but I do think that the widening of appeal to drinkers with differing backgrounds, needs, expectations and appreciations can only be a good thing. Sheffield is a vibrant ale city. It is not stultifying. Its a giant, awakening, lively, beast.

And long may this continue


Wee Beefy

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Bluvver Duck! It's Sheffield Beer Week!

Evenin all,

     I have to admit that I do not know how to spell Bluvver Duck. I mean, I know that duck is correct but it could likewise be those that don't know, which many now include me, the phrase, in my experience, was used by my Belper born Mum instead of bloody. It seemed that during her childhood in the fifties that was too rude a word to espouse, and she used said phrase to avoid contempt. I was going to call the post "Fuck me sideways, its Sheffield beer week!" . And that's swearing. As a former manger used to say. There. Am glad we sorted that out....

Five years ago the wonderful Jules Gray assisted by numerous friends and fellow beer enthusiasts including my chum Clare, set up a celebration of all that is beer in Sheffield, and all that is good about it. This has since grown to include the Fem.Ale  celebration of women in beer along with Indie Beer Feast, a festival of beers and breweries held in Abbeydale Picture House. This year, and previously, numerous pubs have put on showcases of numerous beers from numerous breweries, so here is a flavour of what I have enjoyed this year.

Monday night I headed to BrewDog to taste some excellent Left Handed Giant beers. I started with a half o their excellent Out of Sight, a four hopped 6.6% IPA. I also tried a third of their own Juicy IPA, as well as a third of their Paradox Islay. Its worryingly easy to sup at 14% and the hit of the peat and smoke comes in the wonderful aftertaste. Am not sure if this was in aid of Sheffield Beer Week but it was a great start to the celebration anyway...

On Tuesday I met my friends Vikkie and Matthew in Shakespeares where they were serving the excellent Amundsen Dessert in a can beers on draught. Given that they are all over 10% I only had two, the Coconut chop chip cookie and the pecan and maple pie imperial stouts, in thirds. I also had a pint of the excellent Vision Quest 7% IPA on cask, and a pint of the four way or more way Hop City Colab IPA. I then popped over the road to Bar Stewards to enjoy a pint of a Verdant beer and a beer whose name has since escaped me. Can't think why....

On Wednesday I popped into Shakespeares once again to enjoy a hugely satisfying pint of Turning Point Vision Quest, before meeting Reason, Gazza, Suethebrew and Dave and Patrick in the Bar Stewards for a pint of Loka Polly Spur, and to grab a final bottle of Yellow Belly. This was mostly part of their excellent South West Tap Takeover, although I understand there was a delivery issue with the Deya which may not be on yet...

On Thursday I went to see a gig by a "duo" and popped in the Rutland Arms first for a pint of Blackjack and a ridiculously strong and similarly delicious third of De Molen imperial stout, from a frankly amazing range of beers including Siren Maiden 2018.

My last "do" was at Shakespeares yesterday. Having taken the day off to recover and to arrive early I didn't actually get there until about 13.45, to behold and hugely enjoy the North versus the rest of the world Tap takeover. North Brewing had very kindly agreed to put five or six special keg lines into cask and these were competing with a range of keg lines from a variety of international breweries. I started on a half of the Dots and Loops, a super hazy DDH IPA at 6.5% that woke my palate perfectly. I then risked a pint of one of my all time favourite beers, North Transmission, a fabulous 6.9% IPA on cask at £4.20 a pint. This was despatched swiftly, and was frankly wonderful. After this wonderment I then had further, a half of their excellent Ursa Major, an extremely drinkable and joyously hopped DIPA at 8.1%.

One thing that I did like was seeing the stronger cask beers served in more appropriate, usually keg and can beer glasses - especially sine the transfer from Keg to cask was done so well and with such success.

More Transmission followed, now joined by Tony and Laura, before a final Full Fathom 5, a fabulous coffee and a half on keg of the Fierce and Verdant 01 Citra hop series, which went down far too well.

This was also the last shift at Shakespeares by Adam, very much a man of Dronfield, who will soon be moving up the hill on the other side of the road to the Crow Inn. I look forward to seeing you there soon mate!

All in all I have enjoyed every one of the events I have attended at Sheffield Beer Week 2019 and am now looking forward with just as much anticipation to a similar robust roll call of beery delights in the event next year. Well done to Jules and Will and all their many friends and volunteers in the brewing and pubs sectors who helped to once again make this a fantastic Sheffield Beer Week.


Wee Beefy