Sunday 25 January 2015

BRAPA - Sheffield Central

It was Dad's birthday weekend, a blank one for Hull City due to no FA Cup involvement, so this long-awaited trip to Sheffield could finally take place, and was a real case of "good things come to those who wait".  We concentrated on the five remaining central ticks, as Dad's not a young man anymore and can't do the gallivanting around that I can, especially on a freezing January day, though the sun was out for a change!

566 - RUTLAND ARMS, Sheffield - Having arrived just after 12 noon, we stood by that 'wall of water' thing just by the station and I worked out this was our nearest pub 'tick'.  I've walked past this loads over the years, but never thought it looked that inviting.  How wrong I was.  It was as a traditional cosy style pub despite being one roomed, with etched windows and mirrors showing the pub name.  They had a lot of beers from the local Blue Bee brewery by my attention was immediately taken by Chocolate and Vanilla Stout by Titanic brewery, a beer to end all beers!  The staff were friendly, young and hairy but the clientele were your typical mixture of no nonsense South Yorks old men and a few ale visitors like ourselves.  As someone on my Untappd said, I'd said such high standards with this first pub and beer, it'd be hard to maintain though Sheffield was the kind of city where it was achievable.  A great start.

Dad made a meal of taking photo so two nice student girls had to walk in the road! 
567 - HENRY'S CAFE BAR, Sheffield - Dad was already encouraging the drinking of halves which as the day progressed, meant he ordered half, I ordered pint, he finished first, I had to pour a quarter into his glass!  We had misgivings about this next place due to it's name and modern 2010 re-opening but we needn't have worried.  Warm air swept through the vast one roomed building, and despite the bare-boarded nature, it was comfy once we got into a seat vacated by a family with pushchair.  11 ales was an impressive range (best of the day), the helpful staff encouraged 'tasters' but didn't really embrace our small talk at the bar!  My Sheffield "Seven Hills" (making the city like Rome!) was nice, but the brewery then did the new annoying Untappd trick of acknowledging my check-in.  The long bar counter was really ornate and looked very old, so not sure where that came from, but it pre-dated 2010 and you don't need a heritage guide to tell you that!  The clientele were mainly young, a good few students but a nice relax atmosphere engulfed this very pubby bar.

Birthday boy Bern arrives at Henry's
568 - BATH HOTEL, Sheffield - This was the pub I'd been most looking foward to before the day had started as it is a national CAMRA heritage pub, and it's 30's interior was a delight to see.   It is a small two roomed pub with a sweeping corridor, the main bar being full so having done my homework, I directed us to the empty side room with real fire and blue upholstery, and it remained empty for most of our time in there though the hubbub from the main bar was nicely prevalent.  A special mention should go to the barman, who was friendly, chatty and again gave beer tasters, having to change a barrel and came in to keep the fire stoked up.  They had a few Thornbridge ales on, but again I was distracted by Titanic, this time Cappuccino.  Dad said his Thornbridge stout paled into watery insignificance in comparison, but I know from a York Tap session with Jig what a great beer this was regardless.  We settled down to try and complete a cryptic crossword about to be used as fire fuel, but our brains were too relaxed to get into that mode.  Pub of the day probably.

Me ready to swoop on this wonderful 1930's architectural gem
569 - HOP, Sheffield - An Ossett pub as you may expect from the name, it was in a modern bar complex near the trendy West Street area very similar to the thing under the Dark Arches in Leeds, though the interior of the pub was more reminiscent of the Wakefield version.  Our timing was bad in that a man next to us did one of those ridiculous complex orders which seems to go on for eternity.  The ale range had plenty of guests as well as Ossett, but after two great Titanic stouts, I went for a Treacle Stout, it was that kind of weather.  Speaking of which, this was the first cold pub of the day - something Dad complains about a lot more than me.  On a trip to the loo, I noticed plenty more seats upstairs, and with hot air rising, we went into this fake library area and once Dad avoided a draughty air fan, we were comfy.  Our relaxed reverie was broken ten minutes later by a group of students, who were filming a 'comedy' and we watched on as two bearded men drank half a pint at the same speed and then put it down.  End of scene ...... hmmmm, "comedy gold!" as I exclaimed to the cast & crew.  They were a nice bunch of lads/lasses, and it added a quirk to what was probably the least brilliant pub of the day.

Me at my 4th Osssett Hop!
570 - RED DEER, Sheffield - In the same area of town as the last two, we'd suddenly come to our final pub 'tick' of the day with hours to spare - annoying because  Dad had kept wondering 'how on earth' we'd get through all five in the day.  Easy.  Like the Rutland, this pub had been on my list for many years and as a guide regular, I knew it'd be a great quality, old man style pub.  It felt a little bit like the kind you may find in Manchester or Liverpool.  Another great range was on offer, I had another dark one, this time with whisky infusion to warm the cockles.  Good staff again, offering try before you buy and asking the kind of questions which normally launches me into a BRAPA explanation, but this time, I just said we were trying to do the Sheffield GBG pubs.  In a show of non bar unity, he went on to slag off the Hop before praising Devonshire Cat and we contemplated a visit before hometime.  Problem here, despite the old man very lived in feel, the pub was too cold!  I blame Dad for noticing but he was right, and this must have been easier to heat than say Henry's, I'm sounding more like an old man every day.  However, Dad went to order food as my BRAPA pasties hadn't been enough, and the jalepeno peppers on my nachos warmed things up a bit.  Great food btw, but overall, we didn't quite see this pub as the same quality as the first three.

Dad indicates the Red Deer, ignore the No Entry sign!

We decided to forgo the Devonshire Cat for my final challenge of the day.  This was to prove to Dad that Sheffield Tap isn't the hellhole he thinks it is, and after a rocky start in the busy main room, I revealed my trump card - back room and back snug which he didn't know existed (err, how many times has he been in?)  Well, his opinion changed in a flash and we were soon too relaxed, having to drink up quick smart to make the train for our short journey back to York at the end of one of the easiest, most successful BRAPA days you could hope for.



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