November – The Railway Hotel

My 2017 Monthly Specials is now onto my final one of the year, this is the 13th one and I cannot believe it all coming to an end, there has been some fabulous specials as well with some interesting answers.
So onto Railway Hotel, a pub that I pop into when I do my London Rd to Heeley pub crawls and a hidden gem of a pub, serving ales and keg lines and is right next to Bramall Lane, so lets get down to the questions …

1. This pub is a family run pub so tell us a bit about who you are and what made you choose this pub ?

We are Andy and Jack Cater (Father and Son) and this is our first foray into running a pub. Our family business is operating machines in public houses, such as jukeboxes, pool tables and fruit machines. I (Jack) wanted to go back to university and asked my dad if I could come and work for him whilst I did but he said no, he couldn’ t justify another wage on the books without increasing turnover. If I could add to the turnover however the family business would back my endeavour. The answer seemed obvious – a pub! I could work evenings outside of my studies and the family business received an increased income, provided the pub was profitable… We settled on the Railway as it was a free house and we could bank on a guaranteed income from the football ground opposite.

2. Give us a run-down of opening hours and if you have any events on during the week, eg quiz et etc or monthly events. 

We Open from 4:30pm Monday to Thursday, 2pm on Friday and Sunday, and midday on Saturdays. Last orders at 11pm everyday (10:30 Sunday’s). We have a pool team and a women’s darts team that operate from the pub on Mondays and Wednesday respectively. We also have a pool table, a jukebox, a dart board and four free play tabletop video games hosting a selection of ever-changing classics such as pac man, space invaders, donkey kong, galaxian and many more. Outside is a reasonably sized walled beer garden which catches the afternoon and evening sun during the summer months.

3. Last time I was in you have 5 cask and 3 keg lines, so are any of these regular ales and how many are guest ale pumps, do you have bottles, cans. What brewery would you like to have ales from in your pub ?

You’ll always find five rotating cask lines running and while we don’t have any permanent beers we endeavour to always have a dark beer and a bitter amongst the five, as well as a wide range of ABVs. Beers from Abbeydale, Kelham Island Brewery, Sheff Brew Co, Neepsend and Brew Foundation are never far away. We also have craft ales on the bar including a rotational Sierra Nevada pump that hosts their selection of seasonal beers. Andy likes his wine too and is quite proud of our modest wine offering, we like to think that for a pub we have some great glasses available at very competitive prices.

4. One of the quirky things you have in the pub is arcade games style tables, what made you get these? I don’t know of any other pub in Sheffield with these.

The tabletop arcade games were a bit of an accident to be honest. We have always kept an eye out for spare cabinets we can refurbish, seeing as we have the experience and spares from the golden age of video games all held within our family business. However just after our first Christmas period at the pub we stumbled across four identical cabinet – which is incredibly rare – so we jumped at the opportunity to fit out the pub with them.

5. I am now going to pull some questions answered by other monthly specials for you – Everyone has their favourite brewery so what is yours and why ?

That’s a hard one. I love the more recent beers from Brew Foundation, not strictly a Sheffield Brewery but James lives locally and now he’s got the ale house open on Ecclesall road I reckon it counts – Pop is my favourite, so much flavour with such a low abv makes it a great session beer. From further afield I reckon it’d have to be Sierra Nevada as we had some great guests in from them. My favourite is definitely Otra Vez, a grapefruit and cactus gose they sent over last year. It was such a nice pint to drink in the sun!

6. What do you think will be the next big thing in the beer world?, I know you don’t have a crystal ball but pretend you have one.

I feel like we are getting close to have the right number of pubs for the population. It’s been a long wait, and Sheffield is usually ahead of the curve where beer and drinking are concerned, but I think we’re not far away from the drinkers of the city being able to sustain the number of pubs that have survived. The shame is that so many good pubs and licensees have fallen by the way side along the way, with some questionable establishments somehow surviving. This competition for revenue has directly resulted in better beer though so the hard times were worth it in the end

7. I am always interested to read about peoples 1st ale and 1st ever pub so what are yours ?

Humble beginnings but I was first introduced to real ale by pints of Deuchars in the Cobden View. It was my go to place during my first stint at Hallam Uni.

8. In Sheffield what have you noticed has changed a lot on the ale scene over the last year?

More variation in the establishments offering interesting selections of beer. The expansion of craft beer has allowed a sort of bar/pub hybrid that serves both. You wouldn’t have expected to be able to buy real ale at midnight in many of the city center pubs too long ago, it would be confined to the more traditional venues like the Bath or Red Deer. Having craft on allows cask to sit there too and not look out of place in more mainstream venues, which is always a plus in my eyes.

9. Have you any plans to do any “tap takeovers” or meet the brewers” in 2018 ?

We normally have a MtB and tap takeover during Sheffield Beer Week so expect to see something then, outside of that we have been planning to bring several of our Pinball machines down to the pub and replace the video games for a long weekend for a sort of Pinball Festival. That will include a tap takeover hopefully but we’ve yet to decide who so watch this space…

10. Match day – you are right next to Bramall Lane and I can imagine it’s a busy day – take us through a Saturday – also do you allow away fans in, do they drink your ales dry, do supporters go in before match or/and after match.

Match days are great! We were very nervous about what to expect at first but like any other day you get regulars in, there’a just a lot more of them on a match day! We actually sell a higher proportion of real ale on a match day than normal so the casks that are on are really important, expect to see lower ABVs though as it’s a long day and there’s plenty of beer to be drunk. It gets busy from about 1pm and with the exception of the match itself we’ll be pretty full until about 9pm. After that though everyone’s left to go home or into town so it’s normally very quiet for the last couple of hours – the perfect time to swing by and play some pool maybe…

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Follow them on Twitter : @RailwaySheff

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