a couple of weeks ago, myself and Fluff met up for a beverage or two, and a walk from Broomhill, over Crookes, down to Commonside, onto Infirmary Road and into town. There was a secondary motive for this yomp, but mainly it was to get to some pubs that we either rarely or had never previously in Fluff's case, visited.
We started in Broomhill, just time for one pub here from the choice of 5. If I'd had my visiting a new pub head on we'd have gone to The Place - but I hadn't, and we met in The York.
Visiting The York on a Sunday is probably suggests its a restaurant that serves food. Its clear that most of the tables are for gnashing and chomping at and despite the relaxed lazy Sunday vibe and comfy seating on the right, I can't escape feeling like I'm gatecrashing a family meal.
When we were 17 (shock, horror, scandal!) we both used to drink in the York. I know I used to favour the Bass over the Stones, but its unrecognisable in terms of interior as well as beer choice now - from a range of beers dominated by True North offerings, I tried the excellent Kelham Island Wild Rider, which is or more likely has made an appearance at the Ship at Shalesmoor. This is a cracking hoppy beer and probably one of the best Kelham beers I've had for a while, although their Brooklyn Porter a year or so ago was exemplary.
After Fluff had recovered from walking over from Woodseats, and finished his much needed pint we headed up the bus route to Crookes. If we'd been doing a proper survey we'd have made 4 stops before we reached the Punch Bowl but really Crookes was just a convenient route over the hill to Commonside. A pressing need for Fluff however meant an unplanned visit to the Princess Royal.
Still serving a good range of beers it was warm, crowded and friendly, and there was some good music on the jukebox. We both had halves of the Welbeck Bay Middleton, a well kept refreshing dry bitter with a lovely aftertaste.
All too soon we were off for a rare visit to the Dram Shop. We'd earlier noticed that Rhythm and Booze on Crookes had real ales on handpump, but despite the obvious temptation to follow suit, the Dram Shop have always steadfastly concentrated on bottles. From a list of to be fair expensive bottled exotica, Fluff purchased a Brooklyn beer (I think) whilst I saved my cash for more beer in the next pub.
Its only a short walk round the corner along Howard road and down the hill to the Blake Hotel. This was the first time I had been when I noticed the slow service that some people complain about. To be honest, its fair to say this was out of the hands of the staff - some customers really are just slow.
Fluff had time to go to the loo and come back to find me in exactly the same position, and when a bloke turned up and motioned for us to go to the bar to be served since he'd only just arrived, I was quick to point out that I needed to have been nearer sooner to spot which beers were on offer. Bizarrely, this chap took my comment as an invitation to simply put his order in first, and then take a seeming age to get it. A lack of pub etiquette always baffles me, but this was surprising in just how brazen it was. I was temporarily speechless.
Luckily the beers helped soothe the hurt, and despite not being reckless enough to make any notes the quality of the very best beer means I can remember clearly what it was. I know we sampled halves of Potbelly and possibly a Phoenix offering as well but stand out ale there was the Peakstones Rock Black Hole, very much like a silky porter or dark ale to me, but described by the brewery as a dark bitter brewed with chocolate malt. Either way it was fantastic.
Down the hill next to the Hillsborough, where I noticed the Raw Dark Peak Stout was on so had an OK pint of that, Fluff meanwhile went for a Wood Street Brewery Ebony Stout. The jury, I think, is still out on Wood Street beers. The stout was nice enough but not especially well balanced, and lacking in that edge that usually defines a stout. Still, a work in progress can of course improve, so I will continue to try their beers as and when I get chance.
Our final stop was the Wellington. Despite being accused of being the inventor of Saison beer, I was disappointed not to be referred to in such terms, and after a rather awkward bar staff identification mix up me and Fluff both went for pints of the excellent Mallinsons Topaz Centennial, one of my beers of the festival at the Sheffield beer fest that same weekend. Its ironic because I'd been espousing the credentials of the excellent Little Ale Cart beers all the way to the pub - and then we didn't have any...
Fluff ended up walking all the way back into town from here whilst I studiously reserved sufficient funds to catch the bus. All in all this wander was further than we anticipated, but none the worse for it, and featured some great pubs and beer along the way.
Definitely worth doing again to take in some of the other gems that we missed.