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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Who needs an AGM?

As we speak, Sheffield is rocking under the weight of the CAMRA AGM, a weekend of beer bonding, beer pilgrimage, beer exploration.
I did my own such pilgrimage last weekend. Never having been known to do things in the normal, easy way, we (Real Ale Bro and I) went to Sheffield on our own steam, for our own mega beer weekend- not an agenda in sight.
Saturday 9th April, our train pulls into Sheffield at 12.15pm, we are in The Sheffield Tap by 12.17. Having spent many an hour in The (lovely) Euston Tap, this was bigger (not difficult), brighter and simply the best station bar the world must have ever seen. We had 6 beers here, while it quickly became clear just how many amazing beers we were likely to come across his weekend.
Checked in, (9th floor- amazing views) we spotted The Rutland from our window. Four ales (from local breweries Raw, Brew Co. and Blue Bee) slipped down perfectly in the sunshine filled garden and before long we were at The Kelham Island Tavern. Approaching, we stepped into the photo that has been used in all the CAMRA pub of the year articles and on entering, there we were inside the Beer Tickers film. It is a weird feeling to actually, finally, be inside a place you have seen, read, heard so much about and wanted so much to go to. When you get there, the feeling is a strange mixture of cocky and smug, with awe and humbleness.
The rest of the weekend took us to The Fat Cat (which I think I actually liked more- its got more quirk, more heritage, and on our visit, a more exiting beer range) and then The Harlequin, where we enjoyed the bounty of cellar runs for porter, a beautiful Roast and chat with Pete, the brewer at Brew Co.
We made it over to the Devonshire Cat, where real ale pub meets student union meets world beer emporium and later, The Old House- funky, cool, with vinyl on the wall, but still all about beer.
The Bath Hotel was a 1930's treasure, and we squeezed in to listen to the live blues on Sunday night, the Derwent Dark Mild fitting the aura of the place so well.
A bus ride to the Rising Sun, and a bar lined with beers by Abbeydale and more, and a huge box of used pump clips looking for caring homes, started off Monday beautifully. We popped into The Red Deer on the way back into the city. A pleasant pub, but in a city where most places have a beer selection to blow your mind, this pub just felt a bit too much like the less adventurous of the pubs we find at home.
Walking back into the city, we spotted a Thornbridge logo flying in the sky. In reality, it was on the side of a whitewashed bar, Trippets, which treated us to some of the rarer Thornbridge ales and a room full of beery, quirky memorabillia.
The Good Beer Guide unfortunately led us to The Musuem, a souless city centre Greene King pub, and so we hotfooted it back to the Rutland for a range of beers completely different from those we'd had two days before. Finally, grabbing our cases, back to The Sheffield Tap.
One weekend, 65 different beers and some truly amazing pubs.
I'm sure those AGM folks are having a whale of a time (judging by the tweets, the conference deabating is just about being outweighed by exploring the beer delights).
However, we certainly got quite a kick out of doing it ourselves. And felt more than a touch of envy about those who live in The Valley of Beer. Do they know how good they've got it?

P.S Hope you like the new look. There are photos of this trip on a memory card about a mile away from where I am now, some will be added soon.


  1. Nobody here can understand what the Good Beer Guide contributors were thinking when they listed the Museum...

    Thanks for this post: it's great to Sheffield being enjoyed so much. You'll have to give the Wellington, Gardeners Rest and Hillsborough Hotel a go next time.

  2. Sheffield is definitely one of my favourite beer destinations. Every time I get off the train from Leeds, I'm tempted to be lazy and just stay in The Sheffield Tap for the duration of my visit - but that would be a huge waste of a city full of great pubs!! I think I like The Fat Cat better than The Kelham Island Tavern too - they both are obviously very loved though, as they were both absolutely packed when I was there!

  3. Sheffield and District branch has a vote of all members to select its entries for the GBG so the occasional quirk happens. As the branch has recently released a new local guide we can only hope the membership is now more up to date with the best the city has to offer.
    As for knowing what we have, absolutely, we revel in having the only pub to have been awarded CAMRA national pub of the year two years in a row. We shout from the roof tops our claim to be the Beer Capital of England in terms of number of different beers on sale on a single day of surveying. Then we have the current brewing situation; for the AGM it was a good feeling to present over sixty beers all brewed in the city or our LocAle catchment area on the members bar. Of course that was nowhere near all the brews we could have had on if there was room for them all.

  4. Hello! I just stumbled across your blog this evening and it's like a whole new world has opened up for me - other girls who like beer and like writing about beer?! I had no idea there were others out there like me. I'm not even kidding. This is such a great way to start a week!

    And I get what you're saying about a pilgrimage. My friend and I recently did our own beergrimage to Orval. It was amazing. I did a little write up of it here if you are so inclined ( In the mean time, I'm looking forward to poking around your blog more!

  5. Hi Emily, thank you for your message! I have just spent a few hours in A and E having ripped off a toenail so thank you for cheering me up! Come back soon! ( I always promote new posts on Twitter so follow me there for updates.)

  6. Don't miss The Shakespeare and the Riverside next time you're in the Kelham Island area.
    There are loads of "neighbourhood" real ale pubs too.
    You mentioned the Rising Sun, other great ones are The Hallamshire House (my favourite Thornbridge), the Broadfield and The Sheaf View among many.
    We do know how lucky we are, I actually think it's self perpetuating for Sheffield.
    More Real Ale drinkers, more breweries, more demand, more supply, more people appreciating real ale.
    My favourite pint in Sheffield is the Nags Head near Bradfield which is the Bradfield Brewery tap, carrying most of their range and all at £2 a pint! The freshest beer I have ever come across. Just watch out for boisterous farmers if it's late on in an evening.

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