Thursday 31 August 2023

Sheffield! (part one)

I wanted to get up to Sheffield. To see Dann and Martha. And Jules (of Hop Hideout). That the city has lots of great pubs is another attraction. But there’s a massive downside for me. One I’d forgotten.

It’s the same brekkie drill. Grill some bacon, cut some bread, assemble sandwich.

I like my tea strong. Dave makes it super-strong. The colour of dark chocolate. Even when loaded up with milk.

We’re taking the same train as on Friday. It’s on time, but even more packed. There’s an announcement that all the seats are reserved and that if you don’t have a reservation, you’ll have to stand.

Luckily, we have reservations. Of course, our seats are occupied. Who would leave seats empty on a train so packed?

We’re changing at Doncaster again. Not onto another fast train, as for Leeds. But a crummy DMU. It’s another pretty short ride.

Our train pulls in on platform 1. Conveniently, right next to the Sheffield Tap, where we’ve arranged to meet. We have to walk no more than a few feet.

We’re the first to arrive, so I get us some drinks. Jaipur for me. Girly Lager for the kids. Andrew will drink just about anything. Sometimes cask, sometimes cider, sometimes evil keg. He’s annoyingly cosmopolitan that way.

It’s not long until Dann arrives, followed by a couple of his friends. We agree that the next stop should be the Three Tuns.

While we’re climbing the hill into town, Alexei asks: “Can I get some food? I didn’t have breakfast.”

I spot a café-type place where he gets himself a bacon and egg sandwich. I get a chance to catch my breath while he’s inside. I’d forgotten how hilly Sheffield is. Far too hilly for my crappy lungs.

Over another couple of hills and we’re there. It’s a triangular building and we go and sit in its point. Not before getting pints, obviously.

After a while Jules (of Hop Hideout) turns up with her extremely cute daughter, Ivy. Followed by Martha and dog Grimbold.

It’s all very jolly. Other than the TV. Which is tuned to GBNews and is discussing the Lucy Letby case endlessly.

“All this baby-murdering stuff is a bit depressing. They could have selected a less miserable channel.” Someone says.

“Or a less fascist one.” Alexei adds.

With the gang all assembled we can move on. The consensus is Shakespeares. Which, fortunately, is downhill.

As we approach, I see that it has some grand Wards Fine Malt Ales windows. Cool. I can remember their beers. That’s how old I am. They had quite a nice Dark Mild. Though it was difficult to find in Sheffield itself.

As we’re huddling around the bar, Dann points out a unique feature: a dedicated pork pit fridge. With the temperature set to a perfect 13º C.

The multiroom layout has been preserved, which is cool. Though we don’t take advantage, as we sit in the garden. Which is fairly pleasant. As is the pork pie I’m munching on. The weather is atypically sunny and there’s a nice mix of sun and shade in the garden.

Ivy is remarkably quiet and well-behaved. Quite unlike mine were at her age.

Next on itinerary is the Kelham Island Tavern. I think I’ve been here before. Though I probably wouldn’t have recognised it, as the context has changed completely. The pub is now surrounded by modern flats. At least they left the pub intact. 

I can’t resist getting a pint of Acorn Barnsley Bitter. It was the first good cask bee I ever drank, in 1973 or so. This does remind me of it. Quite dark, dry and quite bitter. A lovely drink, really.

The vagaries of brewery takeovers left Newark with many pubs served by the Barnsley Brewery. This was the result of John Smith buying Warwick & Richardson, one of the Newark breweries. It was pretty well immediately closed and their beer replaced by Barnsley, another of John Smith’s purchases.

After Courage bought John Smith, Barnsley was gradually phased out and replaced by Courage-branded beers from the other Newark brewery, Holes. By 1974, the Wing Tavern was the last pub in town offering Barnsley Bitter.

We sit out the back in the garden again. It’s pretty busy considering it’s 15:30.

Our next destination is a pub I’ve definitely visited before. Albeit quite a while ago: the Fat Cat.

We sit outside again. Because of Ivy, I think. These crazy UK laws that make life difficult for parents. Particularly annoying for anyone whose kids are as well-behaved as Ivy. Or has lived on the continent.

“People keep asking us to rebrew the 1832 Mild Ale.” Martha says.

“The first brew was one of my favourite beers of all time. All those whole leaf Goldings were amazing.” I reply. “A shame they nearly broke the brewery.”

Sheffield Tap
Sheffield Station,
1b Sheaf St,
Sheffield City Centre.

Three Tuns
39 Silver Street Head,
Sheffield City Centre,
Sheffield S1 2DD'

146-148 Gibraltar St,
Sheffield S3 8UB.

Kelham Island Tavern
62 Russell St,
Sheffield S3 8RW.

The Fat Cat
23 Alma St,
Sheffield S3 8SA.


The Beer Nut said...

The Three Tuns is where I drank my first ever pint of English beer: John Smith's Magnet, April 1993.

Hoping to get back to Sheffield next year.

Robin said...

When I visited Sheffield pubs for the first time everyone seemed to be drinking Ward's. Pronounced to rhyme with 'hard' not like a room in a hospital.

Anonymous said...

I was in Sheffield once for a work thing. Me and a friend walked into some random pub - all lager pumps and a single pool table. I bought two pints and paid with a twenty. Change came in fifty pence pieces. "Why all the fifty pees?"..."For the pool table"..."We're not playing pool?"..."Huh? People only come here for the pool".

BryanB said...

Ah yes, I remember drinking Acorn Barnsley Bitter, lovely stuff but of course down south we'd only ever see it at beer festivals. If we were lucky - haven't seen it in ages now.

And it's not exactly what you were drinking in '73, as Acorn Brewery is only 20 years old. But hey...

Anonymous said...

GB News is the pits as is TalkTv I like the sound of that dark mild.

Anonymous said...