Ever since my first trip to Sheffield a few years back, I always wanted to return. It has a great beer culture with many different bars and pubs each offering a different experience for beer drinkers. This time round it was my wife and I who decided to go on Good Friday as Bank Holiday drinking is a must. Instead of sitting at a desk, I’ll sit at the bar; instead of having a mug of coffee, I’ll have a pint of bitter; and instead of watching my computer screen I’ll just watch life in Sheffield go by…
A busy train journey attempting to enjoy a can of Beavertown’s Bloody ‘Ell and a homemade, foil wrapped sandwich was a bit of a chore whilst stood in the aisle but it didn’t last long and before we knew it we were hot footing it across town to our first stop, The Fat Cat by Kelham Island. The Kelham Island Brewery was built in the Fat Cat’s beer garden in 1990 and has become increasingly popular independently ever since. A calm environment in what seems to be becoming a university area, the two room pub serves a small number of Kelham Island Brewery beers plus other guest cask ales making the Fat Cat a great afternoon stop before venturing forth.
The next stop was meant to be the highly recommended Wellington but it wasn’t open until 3pm so the newly refurbished Ship Inn, back on the main road it was to be. There was a small selection of cask ales, of which I stumped for a Dunham Massey Porter which was pleasant, and large fridges at the back of the room stacked with bottles of “craft” and European beers. Whilst it was a nice place and we found some good beer literature inside the new décor was a tad clichéd and random; lacking the ambience we are usually after.
Going back on ourselves and back towards the city centre we closed in on The Shakespeare. I hadn’t been here before and I’d sorely missed out. A traditional looking pub (Nothing says traditional like a pub with a hatch at the rear of the bar) but with a large selection of craft cask and keg beers. Laura ordered a half of Redchurch Brewery’s Tartlette, a sour Berliner Weisse furthermore representing the quality of sours the brewery is creating lately. I had to order Cloudwater’s Vermont ESB. This strong bitter had a super creamy texture and flavour courtesy of the Vermont yeast. As we were sat soaking in the ambience, a local folk music group turned up with accordions, fiddles and more. Setting up shop in the back room, we caught a few numbers before moving on.
On the long slog up to the next place, The Bath Hotel; we stopped off at Fagan’s, a small wood panelled Irish pub. Not really for the beer geeks but Kelham Island’s Pale Rider was on cask and well kept. The dated décor and odd opera music that was playing made this a worthwhile visit just to experience it.
The Bath Hotel, a 19th century pub serving mainly Thornbridge Brewery beers is a must when visiting Sheffield. The pub has a warm and friendly community feel, with informative bar staff there to assist with patrons beer selections. The Thornbridge selection was huge and I went with their Burbage on keg, an American style pale ale with crisp and citrusy freshness. A change of course from the previous pints of cask. The guest selection was small but had quality with Laura enjoying Tiny Rebel Brewing Co.’s new Lupulin Fiasco. A New Zealand hopped saison that’s dry, light and citrusy; another refresher. The Bath Hotel does warm pork rolls on Fridays and Saturdays but after some homemade sandwiches we were breaded out. A recommendation of Anchorage Bar due to some To Øl and Yeastie Boys being on tap made that our next port of call.
Whilst Anchorage Bar is more food focused it has a small selection of beers but what was on was pretty good. A farmhouse IPA from To Øl being my beer of choice. Anchorage, again, wasn’t what I look for in a bar but this was a very good beer to have on and the food did look good. It had an external seating area in a courtyard of other bars and seeing as the sun was out we got a bench outside to enjoy the last of it.
The last stop in this part of the city before heading off towards the train station was a trip to Sheffield’s Brewdog bar. Coming off the back of a Magic Rock Tap Takeover I couldn’t resist a third of Grand Marnier Chocolate Orange edition Bearded Lady. Bitter chocolate and an orange boozy finish make this a perfect desert beer; incredibly rich and to know this can be bought by the can is dangerous. With my sweet tooth, I could easily fill my fridge up with this beer leaving no room for milk and butter. This slow beer meant we could get a few rounds of Uno in before moving on. Brewdog Sheffield has a Bottle Dog inside it so people drinking around Sheffield in need of some train beers may find nipping in useful.
Note: There are other, better, bottle shops in Sheffield but I wasn’t visiting those areas on this day…
Another pub I hadn’t got round to on a previous visit was the Rutland Arms; a traditional pub that looks to draw in a younger clientele. We weren’t up for any food but the food at the Rutland Arms came highly recommended. The bar had a great selection of local cask beers and some fantastic keg. I was drawn immediately to a simple pump clip atop a tall chrome tap tower reading ‘Mikkeller – Nelson Sauvignon’ in thick black letters on white card; this was a no brainer. A 9% bretted ale aged in white wine barrels ticks a lot of boxes for me. I love what wine barrel aging does to a beer. A slight tartness and a vinous sweetness adds a complexity to a beer in complete contrast to a rich, sweet bourbon barrel aging. We fired up the jukebox, Pulp obviously, and tucked ourselves into a corner to immerse ourselves in this vibrant atmosphere.
After a full day of beer and wandering around Sheffield the fatigue was starting to set in. We had half an hour to spare before the train so we went to the Sheffield Tap in Sheffield’s Midland Station. It was a beautiful example of high class architecture, high ceilings and fully tiled walls meeting dark wood. The prices were higher than other places we’d visited in Sheffield but the hustle and bustle ensured we finished the night on a high.
I hope you’ve enjoyed following my journey around this great city; and find your own way round it soon if it is on your To-Do list