Recently, some good friends and I went on a three-day pub crawl around the city of Sheffield. They were familiar with the city and its plentiful watering holes, but this was a new experience for me. And what an eye-opener it turned out to be. In the three-day long weekend, we managed to visit twenty fine pubs, and got to taste a lot of very good beer. Now a review of twenty pubs and all the beers contained therein would be unimaginably dull, so I’m just going to concentrate on the first three we visited.
We arrived in Sheffield at lunchtime on Friday, and our first target was Henry’s, a converted cafe that sits on a prominent corner of Cambridge Street. The pub is large, open-plan and spacious, with the bar filling one side. The two walls facing onto the street are glass, giving the place a very light and airy feel. The wooden floor and unfussy decor add to the feel of spaciousness. It still feels like a cafe, in a way.
The beer options are impressive, with eleven handpumps in operation that day. Unfortunately, we only had time for one, and I settled for an Elland Eden, a pale yellow 4.2% bitter. For a first beer of a session, this served very well. It’s light and refreshing with a sweetish start and a good hoppy follow through. The finish is long, bitter and satisfying.
We then moved on the area of the city dominated by student accommodation. The students here are served very well with many fine pubs in and around their lodgings, and the first one of these we visited was the Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street. Although clearly serving the student community, the ‘Dev Cat’ does not look like a student pub. It’s far too clean and tidy for that. The bar is impressive, with up to twelve handpumps in operation. We decided to stop here for our lunch. There is a good menu of honest pub food. Whilst waiting for my food to arrive, I ordered a pint of Thornbridge McConnells, a 5% vanilla stout. I found it to be smooth with a dark, malty flavour and a subtle underlying vanilla taste. It’s very nice, though I found the vanilla to be less obvious than I expected.
The food was very good, and duly fortified, we had another round. This time I picked Thorne Pale Ale, attracted by the fact that Thorne is a relatively local brewer. The beer looks great, a very pale yellow in colour. At 4.2%, it would pass as a session beer, and I would certainly be happy to drink it all night. It is light and refreshing with a distinct caramel flavour. The finish is clean and hoppy, but not bitter.
Moving on, we next stopped at the Sheffield Waterworks, a Wetherspoon’s pub in a converted… er… waterworks. A slightly unusual layout inside, but given the familiar ‘Spoons treatment.
I started here with a Grafton Lady Mary. Grafton is a relatively new brewery, having started production in 2007 in Worksop in Nottinghamshire. The Lady Mary is a 5% mid-orange coloured bitter. I have to admit that for a 5% ale, I found this rather disappointing. There simply isn’t very much flavour. It isn’t unpleasant, but just rather insipid.
My next jar was a Milestone Colonial Stout. A very dark red, Colonial weighs in at a respectable 6%. There’s a tempting caramel smell which carries through into the taste where coffee also appears. It’s very smooth and very nice.
So that’s the first three pubs on my mega-three-day pub crawl. Only seventeen more to go. Keep tuned!
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