Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sheffield Crawl part 2

Leaving the Hillsborough Hotel two stops on the tram will take you to . Keeping left, and crossing the dual carriageway I had reached the Kelham Island district. This is an area of empty streets with any number of decaying factories and warehouses. The rehearsal scenes in the Full Monty could have been filmed here. A stranger would not expect this to be fertile territory for good beer but they would be very wrong. My first port of call was the Fat Cat. Again it is nothing special externally, but inside it is a compact and thriving pub which sells and excellent range of beers from all over the country and also those from its own brewery. I settled down in front of the real fire with a pint of Sarah Hughes’ Ruby Mild.

Simon gets to sample a Belgian classic

  All was well with the word. I promised a special ‘Hello’ to Simon from Kendal who was celebrating his 23rd birthday with a few friends. It’s good to see a younger generation appreciating our classic pubs.
I furthered his beer education with a bottle of Gouden Carolus Xmas which was well received.
Time was passing so it was time for the next pub. Just a five minute walk away was the multi-award winning Kelham Island Tavern. To be brutally honest I’m surprised that it won CAMRA’s highest award two years running. Internally it is nothing out of the ordinary with a comfortable bar and a newer conservatory which has increased capacity considerably. That’s not to belittle the pub, I just think that there are other gems somewhere else in the country that would give it a run for its money. I will say that it is a very friendly and well-run pub that I’d love to have as my local.

The licensee takes great pride in choosing and cellaring his beers so that they are served in optimum condition. I opted for one my favourite session beers, Acorn Barnsley Bitter which is designated as the house beer at a very reasonable price. This is an old fashioned ruby coloured beer with a good balance of malt and hops. it's a long time ago but my recollection is that the original Barnsely Bitter wasn't quite so dark in colour. Anyway, a welcome change from the plethora of hop-head beers that have flooded the market in recent years.

Final stop was the new Sheffield Tap, but I’ll dedicate that one a blog of its own.

1 comment:

  1. The Beer Monster8 February 2011 at 00:04

    A truly splendid crawl Birkonian!

    In addition to each of the excellent pubs/bars listed may I also recommend the Wellington, Shalesmoor [next to Shalesmoor tramstop - re-trace your steps south from Langsett Road tramstop near the Hillsborough]. The Wellington [previously the Cask and Cutler, but now having revertrd to its original name], sells ales from its own Little Ale Cart nano-brewery located immediately behind the pub, which are invariably extremely bitter, pale, hoppy brews, as well as guests from reliable micros such as Millstone, Mallinsons, Pictish, Mighty Oak and Cannon Royall.

    In between the Wellington and the Fat Cat, taking a slight northern detour, is the excellent Gardener's Rest in Neepsend Lane, which serves as the tap for the Sheffield brewery, with several of their ales always available as well as various interesting guests from local and often new breweries.

    After leaving the KIT, walking to Shalesmoor and crossing the River Don leads to the Riverside Bar on Mowbray Street, which often has an unusual selection or two, including brews from the cuckoo brewer Steel City Brewing, which produces a constantly changing, eclectic range of often exceptional brews in a wide variety of styles usually with an abundance of unusual hop varieties, often with unpronounceable foreign names, using the Little Ale Cart, qv, plant.

    From there it is possible to re-trace your steps back across the Don and visit the Harlequin, owned by yet another Sheffield based micro, Brew Company, which as well as being an outlet for their ales always has an interesting range of guests from both the bar and the cellar.

    Other options (if time allows!) include Henry's Bar [close to the Devonshire Cat] and the Rutland Arms [close to Sheffield Station].

    All in all, as well documented and illustrated by Birkonian, a wonderful day off for the seasoned English ale enthusiast, with probably the widest variety of micro-brewery ales in any UK city, in a highly varied series of establishments from old fashioned classic pubs to highly modern continental style bars.

    Cheers, The One and Only Beer Monster - "Accept No Replacements!"