As a teenager growing up in Penistone, I knew Sheffield city centre intimately, but I’ve lost track lately. Okay we still visit my folks regularly but I haven’t really been into the city centre for a long time, not until my daughter went to Uni there. So one Sunday I decided to go and have a little poke around the local beer scene. There’s probably loads of really cool pubs and bars I should have gone to, but these are the ones I did;
First stop was Brewdog Sheffield , non negotiable, end of story. If there’s a Brewdog bar then I’m in it, wherever it is and I’m trying to visit them all which is a bit hard as they keep opening more and more, almost on a monthly basis. Anyhow, Brewdog bars are going to be another story, suffice to say Sheffield is my least favourite, but it’s still good and I had to have a half of IPA is Dead Citra £3.40/half pint, a one off single hopped 7.5% citrussy, grapefruity, bitter, hop monster.
I’ve always liked Kelham Island brewery beers, every time I hear the name I can’t get the image or taste of a pint of Vincent black lightning out of my mind. I had one once (Horse and Farrier, Otley), and I’ve never seen it anywhere since, it was awesome, sort of like a black lager. So second port of call was a Kelham Island brewery pub, the Tap & Tankard. It’s got to be good hasn’t it?
Surprisingly for two o’clock on a Sunday afternoon there were only five people in and at one point there was only me and the two bar keeps. Beer wise there were four Kelham standards on tap; Best, Easy rider, Pale rider and Bette noir. This was supplemented with a very impressive choice of four guest beers; Great Heck Amish mash and Yakima IPA, Brunswick’s Grimwalds Damson stout and Brass Castle Hazelnut mild. It’s always nice to see a mild on, it’s sometimes a forgotten genre.
The pub itself? Mmmm. It’s a proper pub and would get the CAMRA seal of approval no doubt. Not having visited Sheffs for a while, it seemed vaguely familiar with it’s circa 1990 decor. All sort of dark wood, silver and purple, almost as if the last twenty five years had passed it by. It’s not tatty enough to be cool and it’s too tidy and from the wrong era to be anything other than naff, for pity’s sake get rid of that carpet. No, the strength here is the beer, well served by happy staff who knew how to pull a proper pint. The Brass castle hazelnut mild had a smooth and creamy head on a rich chestnut brown body. Hints of coffee, vanilla and a long sweet and slightly sour back taste. Great Heck Amish mash was a hazy perfumey, unfined wheat beer with banana notes, a sour finish and a great deal of complexity. Overall, on the beer front, excellent. In terms of the pub itself? In the words of the local lads, the Arctic monkeys, It’s probably only alright.
The next pub didn’t take much choosing. I’m as big a fan of Tapped brew Co as I am of Brewdog so I headed down to the old Midland Station. Sat in the Sheffield tap I remembered going to London for the first time on the train and setting off as a fifteen year old to travel to Bordeaux for the summer, on my own, you’d probably get locked up for that now Mum.
The pub is spot on, obviously an old refreshment room with it’s massive long bar and period fittings. Only thing was, it wasn’t busy in here neither, and they’ve got ten proper ales on tap, plus a cider and a range of lagers and eight keg craft beer lines, what’s up with you all in Sheffield?
More times than not I don’t have to make choices in life, it’s sort of done for me. So, when I saw that they had Dark Star Revelation on there was no other choice, the aroma told me that it was the one that I had come for. Hoppy, really fucking hoppy, 5.7%, amber coloured, malty back taste but hoppy, hoppy, hoppy. Can you tell I liked this one? It was £4.60 a pint but it was worth paying, just for them to bring it up from Brighton for my delectation.
To round off we went to The Graze inn for a spot of tea. Eccleshall Road is worthy of a trip just to sample the many bars and eateries along it’s length. If they are all as good as The Graze inn you will be impressed. We hadn’t booked and there weren’t many tables left at six o’clock. Definitely more of a restaurant than a pub, but you can just walk in and sit in the bar for a drink. It’s obvious this is a Thornbridge brewery place from the beers; Wild Swan, Brother Rabbit, Chiron and Jaipur, plus decent lagers like Brooklyn. The food was really good too, nothing fancy, quite modern, very honest and very good. My starter was Deep fried ribbons of Yorkshire pud batter, pink juicy Ham hock and a Henderson’s relish based dipping sauce. A wonderful modern take on traditional Yorkshire classics. The main was a bizarre smorgasbord called The Butcher’s sharing board, a bit of everything meaty. It shouldn’t have worked and they would slate it on ‘Master chef’, but it was all good and I really enjoyed it. Thornbridge Chiron American pale ale, on keg, washed everything down quite well. Everything about the place was spot on, spotless, tastefully decorated and I couldn’t really fault anything at all. This isn’t fine dining or the place you go for your wedding anniversary but it’s a cracking place for a reasonably priced family meal in trendy surroundings and we shall definitely be going again. I mean, where else can you get this choice of Thornbridge beers with a decent meal?