Here we go, review of 2019 which starts in February and continues throughout the year and my winners are picked in December 2019. I visit all my Top 20 pubs which are shortlisted and then choose my final 10.
2019 has been a interesting year, around the UK we hear about pubs closing down but in Sheffield we have had a good number of new pubs/bars/micropubs open up, plus a few pubs have been taken over by Sheffield Breweries, pubs like King & Miller at Deepcar and Warncliffe Arms both taken over by Bradfield Brewery, Loxley Brewery opened a new pub after taking over Palm Tree and completely stripped it out, Brew Foundation just opened their 2nd pub at Fulwood, which is ideal for walkers, Lost Industry opened their 1st ever pub in the old Niche building which contains 21 keg lines, which is very ambitious but has worked out well, it isn’t far from Rutland Arms, Chantry Brewery from Rotherham took over the Cross Keys in Handsworth and I popped in there recently and they haven’t changed the layout, there are more ales on now, Millowners Arms is now a full time pub, people who go to Sheffield Camra beer festival will know this place well, another edition to Kelham Island area. The Crow was another new pub on Scotland Street and run by the guys from Rutland Arms and already has tap takeovers and meet the brewers, the keg line is very impressive.
Two Thirds moved into the cake shop down at Abbeydale which that area is starting to improve, a restaurant/bar opened up next door, and a Swedish restaurant due to open soon, all near to Broadfield, BarrowBoy and Picture Social House.
Will the trend continue into 2020, well time will tell, there is still another bar to open once the area round Victoria Quays area is done.
We also had Kommune appear this year which is in the co-op building area near Argos and there are plenty of eating places inside and loads of seating area, there are also a bar which serves cask and keg ales, Hop Hideout are now inside Kommune with 4 keg lines and plenty of cans and bottles to drink in and take out. Ideally placed near the trams.
Hillsborough also have 2 new pubs, Northern Monkey and Brass Monkey, Brass is opposite Hillsborough Park and Northern is nearer to Hillsborough corner, both have the Monkey theme running through them both. Both serving ales, some from local breweries.
Now onto my favourite top 10 pubs this year, it is always so difficult to pick a Top 10 mainly because Sheffield has so many great pubs which fit all my categories so its just a hard choice, I must always point out every year this is my choice and it wont be everyone’s choice, but that’s how it works. I love to hear other peoples choice of their Top 10.
At the start of every year I always shortlist my favourite 20 pubs and from that list I will end up with a Top 10, any new pubs which open that year cannot be chosen, they can be chosen the following year if they meet my criteria.
So what do I look for in my Top 10: ale choice is my No1 choice, it doesn’t matter if its on cask or keg or can or a bottle, it has to be served perfectly, in the right glass if possible, glass is important to me, I don’t want a ale in a lager glass eeek, that’s bad. Price is also important, I don’t want to be ripped off, my pet hate is a normal cask ale charging over £4 its a no no for me. Looking for good customer service, which is also a hit for me, staff who know what they talking about and interacting with me. I am not interested if they serve food or not, some of the pubs don’t serve food, I am not after my Favourite food pubs. So below are my Top 10, be prepared for a couple of surprises.
My Top 10 Pubs of 2019 are:
- 10. Wellington
- 9. Bar Stewards
- 8. Devonshire Cat
- 7. White Lion
- 6. New Barrack Tavern
- 5. Ecclesall Ale Club
- 4. Riverside
- 3. Rutland Arms
- 2. Shakespeare
- 1. . Kelham Island Tavern
My other categories include:
Sheffield Brewery of the year : Sheffield is blessed with over 20 breweries so this is always a tough one, with Abbeydale and Neepsend always producing great beer, even their core range is very good and they do special one offs, True North also do a good core range along with Bradfield Brewery. Then you have Lost Industry producing their sour range on keg. But ….. always a but … None of those have won this award, so for me my Sheffield Brewery of the year belongs to – Saint Mars of the Desert – they arrived from USA and landed in Attercliffe this year, there isn’t much down at Attercliffe now but its very easy to get to their brewery tap room, you can get there on the 52/52a bus and a short walk. They have approximately 7 or 8 keg lines plus some cans, they don’t produce any cask ales. I have not yet had a bad ale there and always made welcome by Dann and Martha and a great addition to Sheffield.
Micro pub of the year: Always interesting to see how people say what is a micropub, there are many definitions of a micro pub. For me its a small shop type place converted, those which are bigger I class as a bar. We have quite a few in Sheffield, Beer House, Guzzle at Woodseats, Two Sheds at Crookes, and for me my micro pub of the year is Itchy Pig at Broomhill. Easy to get to on the 52, 52a, 120 bus route and Broomhill has a few other pubs so makes a nice pub crawl. Itchy Pig has both cask and keg ales and a large beer board showing what’s on and what’s coming on.
Thornbridge pub of the year: We are blessed with 7 Thornbridge pubs in Sheffield so always a tough one to choose my favourite as I am in all of them during the year. They also have one in Dronfield as well (Coach and Horses). Last year I chose Stags Head and the year before was a tie with Hallamshire House and Greystones. None of those have won this year and my Thornbridge pub of the year is – The Eagle, this is a new pub opened this year and is on Ecclesall Road, the place used to be Cowshed and you have the nice blue outside walls and once inside are 2 cask and 8 keg ales, plenty of seating as well and nice friendly bar staff, sometimes have guest ales on. A very nice addition to Eccy Road as its called.
True North pub of the year: A new category for me this year, might as well include True North pubs as they have 11 pubs in total, so the ones which I go into which missed my favourite are Broadfield, Common Room, York, Punchbowl and Waggon and Horse but for me my favourite True North pub is – Riverside. This pub is quite close to where I live and they do the True North ales plus guest ales on cask and keg, always a nice choice, the food is also good and sometimes eat here. Always a very busy pub which is good in summer time they have a big beer garden.
Best Sheffield beer blogger: This years winner is the same one as last year, wbeefy on Twitter, you can follow him here, his blog page is also here, on his blog page there are 27 blogs for this year, quite a few. I usually also bump into him in pubs, where else would we meet, usually around Kelham Island. He always has a interesting story to tell.
Best new pub/bar: This year we have had 9 new pubs/bars open this year serving ales, we are really spoilt for choice and still 1 more to open in December, so choosing my favourite one wasn’t easy as it kept changing throughout the year. Those that opened are Millowners Arms which is situated at Kelham Island Museum, if you have been to the Camra Sheffield beer festival you will know where this is, now a fully functioned pub with cask and keg ales and also cans and bottles with a dart board as well if you fancy throwing a few darts. They haven’t changed the inside either.
Another new pub is The Raven Inn which is what used to be Palm Tree at Walkley and this one has had a complete re-furb and is owned by Loxley Brewery who also have Wisewood Inn. My Thornbidge pub of the year – The Eagle is also another new one. The owners of Rutland Arms also opened a new pub called The Crow Inn on Scotland Street, 4 cask and 8/9 keg ale lines and have done some tap take overs already. Others opened up are Northern Monkey and Brass Monkey both down at Hillsborough, Chapeltown Tap House near Chapeltown train station and for me my best new pub/bar goes to Industry Tap, a tap bar from Lost Industry where Niche used to be and a short walk from Rutland Arms, they have 21 keg lines which is very impressive, 10 lines of Lost Industry ales and 11 guest ales, they always have a lager on as well, they do ales in 1/3rds and it is card only.
Best brewery pub/bar: We have quite a few brewery bar/pubs in Sheffield, to be in this category they must supply their own ales, either on cask or keg. Examples are Bradfield brewery – Old Nags Head, King and Miller, Stancill in their pubs – The Albion, Closed Shop, Old Grindstone, all the Thornbridge pubs. Chantry Brewery with The Cross Keys at Handsworth. For me the winner of Best Brewery pub/bar belongs to Lost Industry`s – Industry Tap down at where Niche used to be.
Best beer garden of the year: We have a lot of pubs in Sheffield with beer gardens and the list to choose is endless, what makes a beer garden, well chairs, tables, plus having flowers and decorations, not just a few tables sat outside the front of the pub and they put them away at night, for me that’s not a beer garden, its a all year round garden. So for me my best beer garden of the year is again Crown Inn at Heeley, they won it last year, and for me they have the most flower pots I have ever seen in a beer garden, also now they have a TV showing sport. They must have spend a fortune on flowers.
Best beer board: We all like a good beer board when we walk into a pub, its always nice to see what is on offer and also the price, I have seen some pubs who don’t even have a beer board which doesn’t help, and noticed a couple where the price isn’t on it, which seems odd. So my best beer board this year is – Industry Tap, they have one of those digital ones, well they have 2 to cater for their 21 tap lines, has the price split by pint, half and a third and what type of drink it is and also has untpped posts at the bottom of the screen.
Best brewery outside of Sheffield: Always a tough one to choose, last 2 years it has been Buxton Brewery which are just superb so this year and following years I cannot choose the same brewery again, gives others a chance or Buxton will win it every year. So how do I go about picking my fav brewery outside of Sheffield, it goes on what’s available in Sheffield, doesn’t matter if it is cash, keg, cans or bottles. I like all types. I could have chosen from all these which I like, Northern Monk, Deya, Bristol Brewery, Fyne Ales, Atom, Arbor the list is endless but in the end for me my best brewery outside of Sheffield goes to Brew York. I am finding them in a few pubs on cask, keg and also cans, they have changed their pump clips as well and they have done a vast variety and loving their names, my favourite is Rhubarba Streisand,
Most friendly bar staff: There is nothing better than friendly bar staff who are not afraid to speak to customers and help them what to choose to drink and also nice when the staff know what ales are on and what type they are, some even say “enjoy your drink” or “have a nice day” when leaving and say “thank you” when I take my glass back. The list is endless of choices for my friendliest pub so my winner for most friendly bar staff goes to Riverside. For such a busy pub the staff always happy to serve you.
Most improved pub: What do I class as a improved pub, usually means they have done something with selection of ales, put more on, had a re-furb, the list is endless, so for me a clear winner for most improved pub goes to Kelham Island Tavern, So why has this pub improved, the new landlords have changed the selection of cask ales and although they keep their regular ales on the guest ales have dramatically improved, also the beer board is much clearer and that has made a big difference, they also post their beer board on social media more, which has also made me visit the pub if I see any ales posted I want to try. Then there is the added 4 keg ale lines recently added which gives even more selection.
Best Keg pub/bar : A new category for me this year, this is a category which has improved in Sheffield over the last couple of years when new bars/pubs open up and they have more keg on than cask, this after all is the future. Glad to see Sheffield is now slowly coming to terms with keg ales. So which pubs didn’t make my winner, Old Workshop at Kelham which is all keg only and no cask, Pour at Heeley which is also all keg, and all vegan plus they have a larger selection of cans and bottles now. The Tramshed at Heeley which has 7/8 keg lines on now, and also they have a selection of cans and bottles to drink inside. My winner of best keg pub/bar goes to Industry Tap in the old Niche building, a new bar of 21 keg lines which is a daring thing to do in Sheffield.
Best hidden gem of a pub/bar : This category was hard to fill as we have loads of pubs in Sheffield and majority of the people have been to them so this time I have found a pub that probably doesn’t get visited much due to the strange hours where they are closed for part of the afternoon and open again at 5:30 so can be difficult to catch open. So my best hidden gem of a pub is The Union at Nether Edge, I usually get to this one from Stags Head and walk to it which is about 10/15 minutes walk. They are on Facebook and do post on a regular basis the ale selection is nice and is served very well. A delight of a pub.
- Sheffield brewery of the year : Saint Mars of the Desert
- Micro Pub of the year : Itchy Pig
- Thornbridge pub of the year : The Eagle
- True North pub of the year : Riverside
- Best beer blogger in Sheffield : Wbeefy
- Best new pub/bar : Industry Tap
- Best brewery pub/bar : Lost Industry & Industry Tap
- Best beer garden : The Crown Inn
- Best beer board : Industry Tap
- Best brewery outside of Sheffield : Brew York
- Most friendly bar staff : Riverside
- Most improved pub : Kelham Island Tavern
- Best keg pub/bar : Industry Tap
- Best hidden pub/bar : The Union
- My Pub of the Year No 1 : Kelham Island Tavern