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Thread: Sheffield city centre

  1. #1
    Between pubs sheffield hatter's Avatar
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    Default Sheffield city centre

    A couple of my Sheffield drinking mates have been ticking off the real ale pubs in the local Camra publication, a Real Ale Guide to Sheffield and District, since it was published in April 2011, and I've joined in with them for about the last year and a half. Only those pubs identified in the guide as having real ale when they were surveyed are visited. As the guide gets more out of date, though, the temptation to visit pubs that have started to serve real ale became harder to resist. Last night we met in The Museum to plan a city centre route. I had mentioned one or two keg pubs that needed a review on this site, but got overruled. After a very gluggable pint of Hearty Mild, the first time I've come across a beer from Yorkshire Heart brewery, we set off for Cavells Cafe Bar.

    This is a very long, thin room in the ground floor of a 1960s shop/office building near the Castle Square tram stop. It's had real ales advertised on an A-board outside for a couple of years. The bar, occupying the middle section of the right hand wall, is a very pub-like affair, and has a couple of hand pumps. Only Bradfield Farmers Blonde was available, and this was as cold and bland as it usually is. Apparently it's the biggest selling beer at the Kelham Island Tavern, so it clearly suits the taste buds of a large number of Sheffield drinkers. It reminds me of keg Stones, in that it's cold, inoffensive and drinkable. Décor and furnishings, the bar aside, are very much at the cafe end of the spectrum, though it's not a bad place for a quick drink, but with Wetherspoons a few metres away selling a choice of beers at considerably lower prices, it seems likely that this will be my only visit.

    There's a back door to Cavells that leads onto a back street called Hartshead. We exited this way, intending to walk up to the Cathedral for a visit to the Church House, but on a whim my mates acceded to my earlier suggestion of a keg pub, The Hen & Chickens. Having heard of its rough reputation, one of them pleaded a few minutes to make a farewell phone call to his children. The pub is in a strange little back street around the corner from a chippy and opposite the Co-op, being otherwise surrounded by disused and derelict buildings. The first thing we noticed, couldn't fail to notice, was the landlady stood behind the bar bellowing quiz questions at the top of her voice; it was 5.15pm and the pub was heaving. On the bar was a collection of keg fonts. My mates went for the John Smiths Smooth Crap, while I, disappointed that there was no keg Stones Bitter so that I could compare it with Farmers Bland, went instead for Stella. There was an atmosphere of friendly conviviality, with about 30 or 40 people seemingly having a very good time. The décor is sparse: plain walls embellished only with small acrylic paintings of the regular customers. As we left, one of my mates said to the other, "who was your mate in there that you were talking to?", only to be told that it had been a complete stranger - that's how friendly it was in this pub.

    Next stop was The Church House. A few years ago this was called The Priory, when it served real ales, but at the time of the Camra survey it was Sanctuary, a fizz palace. There were a couple of beers from Caledonian Brewery, Golden XPA and a winter special, Bitter Winter. This place seemed relatively unchanged since my last visit about five years ago under its Priory guise - perhaps they only changed the name?

    We next went to Maggie Mays, a bar formerly known as Alibi and listed as such in the "no real ales" section of the guide. I knew there was a hand pump on the bar, as I had been in here about a year ago having heard a rumour to that effect. On that occasion there'd been no beer on, it being the quiet part of the week, but this time we were in luck: Bradfield Farmers Blonde was on! This really is a bar for people less than half our age, though the beer was OK and the music was not too loud for us to continue our conversation: we were in fact the only people there at 6.30pm.

    Just across the road from here is the Dog & Partridge, which we had heard had changed hands since my review of 15th November 2012 and now had a focus on real ales. There were indeed half a dozen hand pumps lined up along the bar. Some of the beers were being pulled through, so I didn't make a note of them; I had Dancing Duck Dark Drake. I'll be back another time soon to do a proper review.

    Our next destination was meant to be The Bowery, or ThBowery as some of the signage has it, or in my photo "Bowe Y Bar & Deli". On the way there, though, we noticed that The Cavendish has been refurbished and now has a small bank of three hand pumps. There were two beers, Wells Bombardier and Abbeydale Moonshine, plus a Westons cider. We asked for Bombardier, but the manager, accusing himself of negligence, told us it hadn't been pulled through yet. He could have rescued the situation by pulling it through there and then, but instead we had the Moonshine, another Stones drinkalike. The pub looks very smart after its refurb, though I'm not sure the idea of having the floor tiled in a totally irregular pattern - no two tiles the same, as far as I could make out - was such a good idea.

    Finally to the Bowery, which one of us had spotted had a hand pump or two tucked away among the fonts, though how he managed to see them in the gloom I have no idea. We had the choice of Bradfield Farmers Blonde or Bradfield ThBowery Bitter, which on enquiry was Farmers Bitter rebadged. This seemed to us a no-brainer, and we all went for ThBowery Bitter. Unfortunately this was very old, with some distinctly off flavours, though not actually sour. We complained, to be met with the obviously untrained bar person telling us she would ask someone about that when they came in! Gobsmacked, we couldn't be bothered to argue, and just left our beer on the bar and walked out.

    We had promised ourselves a decent beer in The Red Deer to finish off. This is a very good pub where they know how to keep their beer and where they offer a 5% discount to card carrying Camra members. The beer selection is perhaps a tad unadventurous, though they do have beers that are not often seen in Sheffield, such as Moorhouses, Copper Dragon and Theakstons. We went for Old Peculier, just to round the evening off.
    Last edited by sheffield hatter; 10-02-2014 at 08:47.
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  2. #2
    This Space For Hire Wittenden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheffield hatter View Post

    We had promised ourselves a decent beer in The Red Deer to finish off. This is a very good pub where they know how to keep their beer and where they offer a 5% discount to card carrying Camra members. The beer selection is perhaps a tad unadventurous, though they do have beers that are not often seen in Sheffield, such as Moorhouses, Copper Dragon and Theakstons. We went for Old Peculier, just to round the evening off.
    Ah, the Red Deer! It's been on my radar this 40 years, but never been-only twice in Sheffield, driving both times. Have quite liked Farmers Blonde in my time, though not really my style. Good crawl.
    "At that moment I would have given a kingdom, not for champagne or hock and soda, or hot coffee but for a glass of beer" Marquess Curzon of Kedlestone, Viceroy of India.

  3. #3
    I'll stay on me own
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    There's a few on that crawl that i have not been in,mostly the newer bars.

    Seemed like you had a good day out Will.

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