My Monthly Specials 2017 for August is a bit different to the other ones, the other ones I picked who I wanted to take part and for these 2 guys they approached me to be included and here we are.
This also is going to be a bit different as well, most of the others I send over the questions and they send answers back to me, that way they can type away merrily and sometimes you may get a more in-depth reply, this was an idea from Jon at White Lion. This one though was a Sunday pub crawl around the Kelham Island area, I had been down the day before around this area of all the pubs are not new to me but to @sheffpubquest there were some which they had not visited before, so they were also reviewing the pubs as well. Kind of kill 2 birds with 1 stone.
I was armed with my pad of 14/15 questions to ask, I had to order, I would play it by ear and they were both very chatty and it turns out that what we were chatting about were in some of the questions.
We plan to meet in The Harlequin at 1.00, I was about 15 minutes early, I like to get there in plenty of time and the 2 guys were only 2 minutes after 1.00, I sat down with my Exit33 ale and they both had a pint of cider, they must do a pint to review a pub and Harlequin was one of them.
You can follow all their blogs here
Who are @sheffpubquest – they are 2 guys, Rob and Andy, at a guess I would say they are both in their 20s.
How did @sheffpubquest start ? – Andy told me the story and it started in Lancaster Uni when he was a student and they have 9 pubs around that area and they were going to visit all 9 pubs in 3 hours and a pint in each pub, then the idea was to then do the same in Lancaster and visit every pub, Andy them moved to Sheffield and with Rob they decided to do the same in Sheffield and visit every pub drinking a different pint in each one, which is a challenge. It is Robs idea of the blog posts and the rest as they say … is history. I was amazed that they knew how much they have spent on ales etc etc and not even repeated the same ale again.
Question 2 I wanted to test them so I went on their blog site and they have done 135 pub visits and reviews, so did they know how many they had done … of course they did. I also asked if they could remember which was their 1st ever pub and what year, month and day .. a much harder challenge, they knew exactly which pub it was .. Royal Standard and they knew they year .. 2012 and also the month .. August .. they couldn’t remember the day which was a bit harder so their first ever pub was The Royal Standard on 6th August 2012… I was still impressed as I cannot remember which pub I had visited and reviewed so I am glad they didn’t ask me, by this stage we were in pub 2 – The Riverside. They chose the Standard as it was a pub between were both used to live.
I have read some of their pub reviews and was curious to know how they score the pubs, so this is what they do .. both score each pub out of 5 and add the scores together, Rob goes on the atmosphere and decoration of the pub he likes old fashioned one more, Andy goes on what type of beer they serve, how many ales and also the variety, he looks for empty pumps as well. How they scored the pubs we were in during the day does seem fair. I did ask of any pub did received a 10/10 and one did and that is the Hallamshire House.
Some of the questions I did ask were also asked to other beer bloggers to see if peoples choices are different and this next one certainly was.
What is your favourite brewery and favourite ale ? Andy went for Saltaire brewery, which we do see in Sheffield in a few pubs (Harley and Great Gatsby) his fav ale is Plum Porter (Titanic) which you can find at The New Barrack Tavern, he also prefers stouts/porter and dark ales, he also likes Yorkshire Blackout. Rob is a fab of Thornbridge ales and that is his choice of brewery, fav ale is Colarado Red which he used to drink every Thursday night in his younger days. He is a fan of red ales.
A topic that interests me at the moment is – what do you think to a ale in a can ?, having had some the night before in The Tramshed and my original opinion was … ale in a can … you cannot be serious (John McEnroe moment) but has grown on me. Andy thinks it is a novelty idea and wont last, must say the cans have looked “prettier” recently with the labels, he does prefer a ale in a pint glass. Rob prefers a bottle to a can, I feel cans might replace bottles in a few years’ time… we all did agree we don’t like plastic cups . it’s a bit like triangle sandwiches are better, yes the conversation is getting deep now. I did say it would be interesting to see if Thornbridge went down the can route, I did ask the question on Twitter but alas, didn’t get a reply… so there you have it, mixed reviews on a can.
The other debate I keep having with people is … keg vs cask… Andy prefers cask and this is the first thing he looks for in visiting pubs, Rob was on the fence here, for flavour = keg for traditional tastes = cask.. Sheffield doesn’t seem to be taking off on the keg thing but with The Albion (10 keg lines) Bar Steward (6 keg lines) The Old Workshop, all keg lines so maybe in a few years’ time it might change. But from our chat keg wasn’t winning.
Next question – what is your best city/town for drinking? .. surprisingly both agreed on this one, both said Sheffield where there is much variety, Brugges was also mentioned. At this stage, we were in The Shakespeare and the % went up (between 6.5% and 7.4%). After the end of the day we certainly had variety of drinks, they were both passionate about Sheffield and so am I, which isn’t surprising for all 3 of us as we all promote Sheffield.
The next question is all about what do you think will be the next big think in the beer world and one I agree with is invasion of micro pubs / microbreweries, overheads are cheaper than shops, and we keeping getting them appearing in Sheffield, at the moment we have 5 micro pubs and 1 appearing shortly down Woodseats. Fruity flavours / heavily flavoured beers was also mentioned.
So what would happen next for these 2 guys when they have visited all Sheffield pubs, answer was “retire”, agreed it’s a never ending job and doubtful they will ever do all the pubs as there are so many, even I am finding it a struggle to do them all as so many out there… they did mentioned about venturing into Dronfield. Would you revisit a pub ? .. only if the owner changed hands .. well that’s The Albion on for a revisit then.
I am always curious to see if people can remember their first ever ale and where they had the ale in and they were clear on this one … Hollin Bush at Gleadless (A pub I haven’t been to yet) and they had turned 18 in 2008/09 and first drink was John Smiths – Magnet, what they did is get a lager and 1 ale together and the rest is history .. they did have a nice story to tell here.
The next one I did put them on the spot .. name your favourite 5 pubs in Sheffield:
Andy – Bath Hotel, Hallamshire House, Devonshire Cat (before the refurb), Closed Shop, British Oak.
Rob – Hallamshire House, Bath Hotel, British Oak, Washington, White Lion
The we discussed whats changed in Sheffield over the year and Rob said the birth of micro pubs and have to agree and we both said more will probably appear, Andy came up with Gin, which it has, there are a lot of pubs doing loads and loads of Gin, and Gin Festivals appearing all over the place.
The we got onto beer festivals and which is their favourite and 3 Valleys (Dronfield) was the winner, pubs are nice and the weather been good, music in pubs. They also want to go to the Sheffield Kelham Camra festival as one of them not been before. My favourite is York festival from last year.
Sheffield has several drinking areas so dying to know which they like .. Andy – Kelham Island area which has a variety of ales and in his eye a league of its own . Rob like the Heeley area, likes the stretch of pubs and all Are different. You cannot argue with both. If I had to choose one it would be Kelham area, especially with The Bar Steward and The Old Workshop appearing, will more pop up … well time will tell.
So we were sat in The Wellington feeling all a bit worse for wear, and nearly time for me to pop off, so one last question I plucked out of thin air .. which is your favourite Sheffield brewery:
Andy – Bradfield
Rob – Sentinel
Me – Little Critters
The hours just flew bye, all 4 hours chatting away discussing Sheffield in detail, some of the topics we discussed were “off the record” thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. 2 great guys who love a drink and reviewing pubs in Sheffield, I wish them luck on their journey and I am sure we will bump into each other in a pub.
One final thing was left and that was another conversation about revamp on The Devonshire Cat .. but that’s a story for another day.