Wednesday 29 June 2016

BRAPA - Sheffield West A.K.A. Studentsville

Maybe I was a bit harsh on Kelham Island last week.  Certainly, the barren industrial wasteland in the summer sun was more preferable than this weeks Studentsville in the driving rain.

I was relieved to hop on the 51 bus (considering I somehow got lost between the station and Arundel Gate) and although the whole Broomhill/Broomhall thing is too confusing for words, I found my first pub dotted amongst the takeaways and pop up supermarkets.

It's a mucky evening in the steel city.
956.  The York, Sheffield

The first question of course was obvious - "do people from York get their ale for free here?"  Sadly, I wasn't brave enough to ask the stern business-like student girl worker, who did at least soften when she realised she should have charged me £2.50 and not £3.10.  The pub was a bit of Roy Hodgson's England, it didn't really know what it was or have a distinct character.  On the one hand, there were some irritating dining areas (the smell of food, especially fish, told you they take this seriously), but the main bar area was pleasingly pubby enough, but with random quirky decor including stuffed peacocks, an anvil, and hopbines hanging from the bar - something you have to be skeptical of in any pub situation.  And the peacock feathers were in a jar above two people eating - appetising.  The clientele was 50/50 split between locals (mainly moaning about Gareth Southgate), and students (moaning about whether England is going to cease to exist as a country).  Bring a local from Atherton or Leigh to this pub, and they would most probably dissolve Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz style.  I'd been conscious  I was taking up a large table, so when a girl asked "can I sit here, I've got some people joining?", I told her I was finishing anyway and swigged off my last mouthful, to which she responded "was it something I said?"  Well yes actually, it was.  Good bye!

Locals discuss Gareth Southgate under the hopbines.

A pint of Welbeck Abbey Henrietta and background peacocks

Random Anvil - because we are such a quirky bunch(!)
The rain wasn't stopping anytime soon, neither was the bus for that matter as roadworks seemed to be churning up the Fulwood Road going back towards town.  Still, less than 15 minutes power walking later, I was there.....

Roadworks and grey leaden sky - very Sheffield.
957.  University Arms, Sheffield

Entering this place felt like a cross between entering a working man's club, and the veterinary surgery in Fulford, York.  Whatever, it is owned by the Uni and it's a cracker.  Any pub with green tiling around the bar always goes down well with me.  Two smiling blonde barmaids jumped on me (not literally sadly) and I was drinking something with a stupid name by Raw Brewery, easily pint of the night.  £3.40 seemed a bit steep though.  A group of students followed me in, one (a large and more annoying Marcus Brigstocke) made a spectacle of himself by announcing in a flouncy way "OOOOH, Thornbridge on Keg?  Controversial!  I think I will start with a .... Diet Coke!"  The barmaids looked like they hated him, so did his own friends, so did I, so did the trio in the corner seemingly trying to recreate a dull British version of the Big Bang Theory, their half baked political chat meant they had to be put in their place by a hairy squat American girl.  Amusing clientele.   Unless you stay here for too long.  It was fairly busy, but then, there weren't a great deal of what I would call 'proper' seats.  I hid around a corner in the main bar, think I made the right decision as the volume of the shit munchers was getting louder & more excitable as we approached 7:30pm.  Great pub but you can have too much of a good thing.

Entrance gives you an idea of the clubby/vetty nature of this place.

My Raw ale and a view of the bar.  Nice tiling.
 I crossed the big ring road thing and was back towards the centre, for my final central tick.  The rain if anything, had got worse.  I had no hood, no hat, no waterproof, totally drenched!

Third and final pub of the night
958.  Old House, Sheffield

In that trendy West Street/Devonshire Street area, the GBG claims this place provides a more homely atmosphere than the other bars in the area.  Gadzooks!  I'd hate to see how unhomely the others are then. Having forced my way through some huge glass doors, it took me ages to get served as the trendy staff were twatting around shaking cocktails for their mates.  When I did get a pint, it was the warmest beer I've had since Tap on the Line in Kew.  I think "liquefied human organ" is the phrase I used.  I was probably the first person to have a cask ale all day judging by the posers and drunk middle aged females who made up the clientele.  Still £2.50 a pint was nice surprise.  And the beers had those "tasting notes" chalked in front of the pumpclip.  These were the laziest tasting notes I have ever witnessed with such gems as "it does what it says on the tin" and "sessionable and pale" (the latter on a beer called something like pale session ale).  The non serving staff, in their defence, were smiley, friendly and helpful, and when I got lost coming back from the loos, a nice young chap told me an old man once was convinced he'd come out of the loo and gone back into a different pub!  Chance would be a fine thing.  Talking of the loos, the kitchens might be down there, as there was an amazing smell, a heady concoction of garlic and hipster piss.

Lazy tasting notes .... always wondered what Raven's taste like ... oh, you mean Milk Stout!

Picturesque back bar.  Warm beer.

"Poser" tables abound, as do cocktail drinkers, but I want beer!
Visiting their pub website, it's clear they also have a fascination with gin.  Not the first cool and modern place to do this (King & Queen, Wendover ; Pleased to Meet You, Newcastle), but I've never heard of monthly "gin schools" before.  Am sure the whores of 1880's Whitechapel didn't need schooling in gin.
1.  Stagger into pub.
2.  Get gin
3.  Drink gin
4.  Get pissed
5.  Go to work but try and avoid Jack the Ripper
Sounds simple enough to me.

The journey back seemed easier than last week even though I had to change at Leeds this time.  I will be back next week for my final Kelham Island tick, combined with something North of centre.



  1. That Jack the Ripper avoidance class sounds good.

    Liking the fact you're sharing some reservations on Sheff, fed up with it being Top of pub cities because it's got, like, a gazillion different pale beers.

  2. A worthy class for anyone to undertake, he's never been caught, he might still be out there, just very old.

    Yes, pale ales and Sheffield do seem to go together! Don't get me wrong, it has few superb pubs but I've been in enough dross to know it isn't up there with the top cities and towns.

  3. Sheffield is a decent city, make no mistake about it. Kelham Island is one of the most wonderful industrial areas around. The Rutland is fantastic. However, it isn't filled with good, old fashioned boozers on street corners filled with local working men as I suspect local wankers like Jennifer Ennis would have you believe. In fact, some areas, like West Street are full of stupid, stuck up, toffee-nosed, half-witted, upper class snobs in pretend pubs with little or no atmosphere. It is these areas, rather than the often forgotten real ale deserts that populate large quantities of the suburbs. You wouldn't think that I actually quite like the place now would you?

    Whilst I note and applaud your recognition of another two smiling blondes, the comment that you regret them not literally jumping on you is almost the level I was at on the walk to Astley. Although I suppose you were slightly more honest about it than me. I almost feel proud of you.

    £2.50 a pint should never be a nice surprise. Ever.

    1. Tom - this is the most brilliant thing I've read in years (sorry Si). Any chance you can do a similar job on the overrated Naaaarwich.

      I did look for you when I was in Barton yesterday (somehow I assumed you ran a small bookshop like Pompey John or something), but standing on the corner shouting "Where's Tom" probably only worked in the 19th century.

  4. I'm afraid I haven't been to Norwich for a little while. I hope the wonderful cheese stall on the market is still there. Unfortunately, Norwich City have somehow buckled with the loss of Robert Snodgrass and got themselves relegated, so I'm afraid I don't feel sufficiently qualified to comment. Apart from to say that if smoked Lincolnshire Poacher is the super exciting mega guest cheese of the week again and they try to force it on me I shall strangle the whole city.

    I'm afraid I don't live in Barton but in the people's shithole of Grimsby. Rather than a bookshop I prefer the simple life of a singing door to door deliverer of printed shite.

    1. I've been sold a lie then Tom, and you seemed so knowledgeable about it. No wonder no-one there had heard of you. Grimsby will be OK once they complete the bridge to Denmark.

    2. I am a fairly frequent visitor to Barton, some there will know me.

      Grimsby will be OK if they systematically dismantle it and use the reclaimed building materials to build a bridge to Denmark. Though I don't want to be harangued by Sandi Toksvig, she wastes enough time on 15 to 1 when Bill Stewart would have been in the pub.