CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Clubhouse
The Clubhouse, 13 London Road, Highfield, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Recently, on a long weekend, I decided it was time to check out a "new" pub across town. I use the term "new", quotes and all, because it's actually a pub I visited years ago with my late friend Trevor. But this recent visit was as a new identity – the pub, that is, not myself, although I'm seriously considering changing my identity from that of a struggling beer writer slogging away at a lousy job to that of a wildly successful writer. But enough of that for now.
In 2011, on a London Road pub walk, Trevor and I had a pint at the Scholar. Although it was mostly a sports bar with several TV screens and pool tables, the name suggested a place where studious customers sip their ales while poring over scholarly tomes as they work on their treateses. Eventually the Scholar closed and re-opened as the Hermitage, which still suggested a quiet place secluded from the rest of the city. This name was a bit far-fetched, actually, as the pub is located right at the city centre end of London Road just off the ring road. Although it's not that far from St Mary's Church, that particular church is a bit better known as a lively centre for conferences and community events. And of course there's the Sheffield United ground in Bramall Lane. I can't imagine cloistered monks or nuns or hermits really congregating in the neighbourhood. (Of course that's assuming that hermits would actually congregate.)
Last year the Hermitage closed, and in November it re-opened as yet another pub. No longer suggesting a scholarly hideaway, it is now The Clubhouse. This new name conjures up two different images, one being a post-athletic-event gathering place, possibly with showers on the premises, and the other being a 19th hole bar and restaurant beside a golf course. Naturally this particular Clubhouse is neither of those things. There are still the TV screens showing sporting events, of course, and the pool tables, and on our visit there were British and European flags hanging everywhere, which also suggested a sports pub. It actually looks pretty much the same as the Scholar did.
But the line of handpumps was very intriguing. On our recent visit there were four featuring their own Clubhouse brews, plus one guest and three ciders. So the Clubhouse is definitely more serious about its cask ale than the Scholar was. As we were pre-shopping-trip we just had half pints of Clubhouse Pale Ale (4.0% ABV, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire). Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the actual brewery that is creating ales for the Clubhouse brand; but the beer was quite pleasant and drinkable, and the woman behind the bar was very knowledgeable about the selections and about cask ale in general.
We perched ourselves at a small table right in the center of the large split-level pub. The food menu features main dishes, sandwiches, and burgers, although the selections are not cheap. There were two features I definitely remembered from the Scholar days: that red phone box standing at the base of the staircase, and the irresistible winding staircase itself that leads up to some mysterious area. I wonder if that's where all the scholars and hermits are cloistered...