despite money running out faster than patience at an automated checkout, I have still managed to cram a lot into the nearly two weeks since I last posted. So here's some news....
Dove and Rainbow Hartshead
The Dove seems to be on its usual tri-annual rollercoaster of fortunes - in the past few years it has gained plaudits a plenty for its range of beers and been an incredibly popular venue despite its hidden city centre location. Now I can't possibly comment on its popularity amongst music fans as I am in my dotage and listen only to the soulful babble of Jim Reeves et al, but I can make an observation on my Monday night visit recently.
Essentially, Mondays are unsurprisingly slow to get going. There were a few people in, a man who disliked Gary Moore but appeared at ease with wearing a cowboy hat behind the bar, some pool players, and the hatted fella's acolytes around the bar.
Beer wise the choice was about 6 but with little of interest - the Kelham Easy Rider was a god send amongst almost exclusively super regional or worse still Grim King offerings, but as always, i can use my sense of perspective to note that choice is the saviour of any good venue and so did not even mind being accused of being a smoker and given a plastic glass in anticipation of my inevitable sojourn outside.
Overall I reckon that a busier Dove is likely a better Dove - the service was an odd mix of aggressive and matey and the lack of any noticable hubris probably laid bare a few failings that would otherwise not matter or be seen. I think a return visit is required, to sample the best of the pub, and see whether it is still the only decent mix of rock bar and real ale pub in Sheffield.
The Venerable Cat
So spoilt are we in Sheff that often folks forget that there used to be but 1 place (quickly followed, admittedly, by about 4 others ) in the town to get a decent range of beer. The Fat Cat on Alma Street is where this trend kicked off and I was in there for a retrospective last week with Stevo. She was on lady beer of some kind, but i was able to enjoy two fantastic pints of the Wellbeck Abbey brewery Portland Black whilst we munched on sublime pork pies. This is a timely reminder that I don't actually have to walk miles round the city for a relaxing after work imbibe, and reminds me, as it should some of you, that the Cat is always worth a visit.
Henrys - Beer Cafe?
I was acutely aware that after an initial flurry of visits I had somewhat neglected Henry's so popped in for a couple of halves one recent Wednesday. Am pleased to report that their enthusiasm for real ale has not wained, and it still commands a central and important place on the bar.
On offer was a fantastic range of 9 real ales including the two I tried, that being Dark Star American Pale Ale, and Brew Company Smokey Joe (note this is a guess - my somewhat vague notes proclaim only the word "smoky" for this ale...). As well as sampling these two fine beers, the Dark Star being excellent and the Brew Co beer exceeding my expectations of just how Rauchbier-like it would be, I also managed to snaffle some free sarnies en route to my next stop. Top marks!
Bungalow and Beers
Yes, that's a deliberate mis-spelling. To my shock and discombobulation, what I had previously considered a trendy bar offering nowt more tempting than expensive continental fare found everywhere, was now worth a visit for the real ale alone. In a shock move, which has somehow evaded my radar, it turns out that popular bar Bungalow and Bears now , and has for 9 months or more according to the barman, sold real ale! Add into the mix a decent selection of music and some eclectic but comfy seating to tempt the dotards in our midst, this makes the Beargalow worth a look.
On my visit there was 1 cask cider and two cask beers; York Guzzler, and to my surprise, Oakleaf IPA from Hampshire. I didn't even find Oakleaf beer when we were in Hampshire never mind oop ere in Sheffield, and this was one of the best beers of the night. This is a pleasant change and an encouraging development matched by nearby venues as I shall report now....
Great Green Gatsby's
The Great Gatsby, formerly the Olive Bar and before that the Forresters, now has real ale. Only one handpump is used, but it proudly proclaims the sale of a Blue Bee brewery beer, and is served in their Pint glasses. The beer, a 4% pale beer called High Bouncing Lover, with a flavour nearer to Bees Knees than Nectar (based only on the fact that I have tried Bees Knees only once and associate it with a maltier style than the nectar) is £3.00 a pint and heralds a swift return to visitability for a venue, which, like many of its neighbours, has noticed that people do actually care about what they drink and want something tasty and well made. This infectious drive towards choice and ultimately the supply of quality independently produced products can only be a good thing.
Up the road, having derided them in May for leading me a merry dance concerning the provision or not of the beautiful drink, I also noted that the Green Room had gone and got a Blue Bee beer as well. This time it was the Nectar Pale, a little less balanced than at the Rutland where it has been excellent of late, but nonetheless signs of a seachange in bar ethos with regards to drinks choice, started by the Old house and the Wick at Both Ends, and now encompassing almost every venue in the Devonshire Green area.
The Rutland Arms, Brown Street.
Just a quick mention for the above, my recent acquisition of a Blue Bee brewery loyalty card for the venue has prompted a few visits of late, where on my first visit I had a truly fantastic pint of the Nectar Pale at £2.60. On my second just this week, I had a half of the light tasting slightly foxed ale from Slightly Foxed Brewing Company ( see http://slightlyfoxedbrewery.co.uk/ ) and a rather unwise, given its early appearance in my drinking line up that night, pint of Blue Bee Tangled up IPA. Always a pub worth a visit, the addition of these Blue Bee cards makes it doubly worth popping in, although am not sure where one gets the cards from ......
And finally, the rumour mill....
No, not the name of a pretentious bar or themed restaurant, but an object that when twisted dispenses an enticing selection of granules of truth and supposition. I am informed that the Three Cranes on Queen Street, shut for some time now, is finally due to reopen. Real ales will e available, but only a few at first in order to gauge demand. I understand the owner purchased this and another pub with more pressing needs (lets face it, the Three cranes, superficially at least, appears in damn good nick) hence the delay in its reopening. Here's to a potential new addition to the Sheffield real ale scene!
More soon, with updates from North of the border. Slainte!