I was out the other night and was thinking about squeezing in some extra Monthly Specials and with the ones already done with people who know Sheffield very well, I thought how about getting someone’s opinions who live outside Sheffield and come to visit our ale pubs and see what they think.
Only one name came to mind and that is Mark, also a Untppd friend and we follow each other on Twitter, and that’s where we met from there as he comes to Sheffield from Hull quite often… so here we go with the questions.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and what pubs are in Hull ?
Well I’m a 43 year old married father of 3 daughters who discovered a passion for real ale around 5/6 years ago. I am a youth worker (I won’t say by day as I work all hours!) who enjoys visiting various towns and cities to experience good pubs and good beer when I have a rare day off, usually with my friend Steve in tow.
In Hull we have many historic pubs that are well worth visiting and a great real ale & cider festival (I have to say that as I’m on the organising committee) that is held is the stunning surroundings of Hull Minster and a stone’s throw away from the old town which is where the majority of our most familiar real ale pubs are located.
I have to be honest though and say that although we have some quality, Hull is still a way behind a few towns and cities that I have visited in terms of beer quantity and choice. We are getting more local breweries appearing which is a good sign, however there still seems to be a lack of pubs willing to provide keg beer.
Being UK City of Culture 2017 has seen a massive increase in visitors to the city and that has been good for the local economy and this year alone we have had a number of pubs opening with a high percentage offering real ale, again this can only be a good sign for us beer drinkers.
2. When did you first visit Sheffield ale pubs and what was the 1st pub (if you can remember)
My first beer related visit to Sheffield was in June 2015. I had a day off work and a cheap train offer came up in the local newspaper, I’ll be honest though and say that I hadn’t really considered Sheffield as York was my first choice for that day.
I don’t know what changed my mind and made me think Sheffield for a day out, perhaps it was a subliminal message that I should visit. Anyway less than a week later I was on the 9:57 train armed without really any plan other than to visit the Kelham Island area that I had heard so much about. At 11:20 I stepped off the train & headed in completely the wrong direction and found myself enjoying a breakfast stout in Devonshire Cat. From there I realised just what the city had to offer….The rest as they say is history!
3. I know you are trying to visit as many new pubs as possible, so the places you have been to which is your favourite area and why?
When I visit a city I’m always prepared to travel for a good pub and a good beer and if that includes a marathon walk then so be it. To give you an idea we usually have just over 7 hours when we visit Sheffield and our biggest walk to date must have been: Sheffield Tap, Old Queens Head, Harlequin, Riverside, Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern, Shakespeares, Wellington, University Arms, Bath Hotel, Red Deer, Tap & Tankard, Rutland arms. That one covered some mileage and allowed us time for a food stop on route. You came on that walk with us Peter, I doubt that we’d have crammed in as many without your guidance!
In terms of areas I often gravitate towards Kelham Island area as from the above you can see can be incorporated into a very good route with many quality pubs along the way. I am trying to branch out a bit and recently discovered the London Road area thanks to the pub walk on this website and again this area has some incredible pubs.
We recently also visited Sunfest for the first time out at Rising Sun, This involved taking in many new pubs, again all impressive and made us realise that future plans may involve getting further afield via public transport as there is so much on offer outside of the regular areas.
4. Which are your favourite 5 pubs in Sheffield and why?
Now this is an incredibly difficult question! If you asked me to name my favourite 5 Hull pubs I could probably tell you without thinking but when it comes to Sheffield you have so many quality drinking establishments that it’s almost impossible to trim it down to 5!
With that in mind I’m basing this on the top 5 buildings that I have visited rather than on beer alone…. In no particular order here goes:
Shakespeares – Such a great pub, I have yet to experience any sense of disappointment on any of my visits. It is one of those places that is so welcoming that you plan on staying for a swift half and could easily find yourself staying in for a few hours.
Bath Hotel – It took until my third visit to Sheffield to discover this pub and boy I’m glad I did. Such a nice interior and when it’s busy has a great atmosphere. As an added bonus it’s owned by Thornbridge and we really don’t see enough of their beers in Hull.
Rutland Arms – Again a pub that took me a while to discover and what I love about this place is that as a visitor to the city you may take one look at the outside and think I’ll give that a miss but once inside it is such a quirky environment with a great atmosphere.
Sheffield Tap – A perfect starting or ending point for visitors to the city. It is always busy regardless of the time of day and the room in which the brewery is located….Wow!
Brothers Arms – Another great pub with one of the most amazing beer gardens. Again a pub I could easily feel at home in and while away many an hour. Of course I would have to combine this with a visit to Sheaf view whilst I’m there…Ooh I’m cheating now!
Whilst I’m being cheeky I’m adding a further pub into the mix as Gardeners Rest is also deserving of a mention. Admittedly I’ve not been in since the new owners took over but that pub for me felt right as soon as I walked in. I must visit again to see if it holds the same appeal.
I told you it was impossible to name just 5!
5. In Sheffield we have just over 20 breweries so which one/s do you like the most and why?
Over 20 breweries that’s incredible. I knew you had many but that figure is amazing.
What I love about Sheffield breweries is the vast amount of choice. Even the most established such as Abbeydale & Kelham Island have iconic beers in their repertoire.
Each time I visit I seem to discover more and more. In 2017 I’ve been very impressed with Lost Industry who have some crazy ideas and are not afraid to experiment! Hopjacker never disappoint, Neepsend seem to have upped their game and are brewing many quality ales.
My favourite at present though has to be Little Critters and as you well know Peter they are brewing one or two ales that I cannot get enough of…. sadly we are yet to see their beers in Hull.
6. Is there any particular area/pubs are on your hit list to visit?
I keep saying this but I really need to get over to New Barrack Tavern & Hillsborough Hotel. They were both on my list of pubs to visit during Sheffield Beer Week 2017 but an unfortunate power cut in the area on the day I was over put pay to that idea.
I follow your progress on Twitter regularly Peter and am so jealous of your pub walks. There are so many places that I think that I MUST visit but living outside of the city it’s not that easy. However now that my eldest daughter is moving to Sheffield Hallam University I have I feeling that I will be visiting her on a regular basis thus increasing the number of pubs that I’ll get to see.
7. If you had to choose your favourite Sheffield brewery ale which one would it be, or do you have a few choices.
I’ve had some belters and as I said earlier there are some iconic beers from well-established breweries that I am happy to drink on a regular basis along with numerous that are new to me. Thankfully we see a few Sheffield beers in Hull with the most common being from Kelham Island, Abbeydale and more recently Neepsend but it would be good to see one or two more appear.
My favourite ale must be Little Critters Nutty Ambassador though. I described this as heaven in a glass and boy it certainly is! It is a beer that I endeavour to track down each time I visit the city.
8. What do you think has changed in Sheffield ale scene over the past year and what do you think will take off next year?
As an outsider it’s hard to say what’s changed as I don’t visit as often as I’d like however I have noticed that some pubs seem to have seriously upped their pricing. I am aware that due to beer duty etc it is hard to keep prices on the low side however some appear to be classing their beers as ‘craft’ and charging well over £4 a pint and that’s for cask not keg. I can handle this if it is for a unique or strong beer but some are charging these prices for local beers or even ones brewed by the pubs own breweries. It certainly does not stop me from visiting these pubs however I am more likely to avoid such establishments unless they were holding special events or if they provide something unique. Let’s face it on my visits I’m not short of options!
What I see changing is pubs moving forward and embracing keg beers, and by this I also mean several of the more traditional pubs that have historically been known for their cask ales. What I love is that some pubs in Sheffield who have already taken this on board are not doing this at a negative effect towards lovers of cask ale like myself, this can only be seen as a positive move. Yes it may upset some of the more traditionalists but beer drinking is now an incredibly popular pastime so I say go for it!
9. You mentioned on Facebook that you might do a top 10 Sheffield pub like I do in November, so to put you on the spot, which 10 pubs would you pick, don’t put them in order just yet, the year isn’t over.
Ooh now we’re talking. Earlier I listed my top 5 favourite buildings but now I’m going to look at the overall package of buildings, beer, atmosphere & welcome:
In no particular order I would currently go for: Shakespeares, Brothers Arms, Sheaf View, White Lion, Fat Cat, Rutland Arms, Kelham Island Tavern, Beer Engine, Wellington and Riverside.
Please ask me that question again later in the year when I’ve been over a couple more times and visited a few new places then you may find that this list has changed. In fact I will be contacting you to update this article.
10. I know you have been drinking in other cities/towns so how does Sheffield compare to where you have been for ales?
I love Sheffield and for me there is nothing that can compare. Out of the other places that I have visited only Huddersfield really comes close. There are some great other cities like York and places that have a number of great pubs that can be classed as diamonds amongst the rough but I always keep returning to the Steel City as I seem to discover something new every time I visit.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the drinkers of Sheffield don’t know how lucky they are….I love the city!
Finally I’d like to say thanks to you Peter for being very helpful in planning my visits and for offering advice. Although I’ve only known you for around a year & only met you in person a handful of times it’s been a pleasure going around the city with you ….Here’s to many more!