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Previous Pint Pleasures - October 20, 2002

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Noah's Ark, 94 Crookes, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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The Ball Inn, 171 Crookes, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Masons Arms, 2 Carson Road, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

This column brings me close to home -- my real home, that is. The first time we visited Noah's Ark (the pub, that is, not the biblical wreck) was when we had recently moved to Sheffield and were still not used to the abundance of real ales available. As we entered and sat at a table in the center room the sight of six handpumps at the bar filled us with hope. What a joy to find such a good port in the storm -- even though it happened to be a bright sunny day. Well, even "nice" days can get on the nerves, as my fellow California-raised rain-loving friends can attest. Our pints on this tiresome "nice day" were of Southern Bitter (3.7% ABV, Cottage Brewing Co Ltd, Castle Cary, Somerset). This is a light, lemony brew with a nice bitter aftertaste, like a few rich gray clouds creating a well-needed contrast to the sunshine. Yes, this was another "cracking" pint -- but too many cracking pints and we're likely to crack up! Ah, well...there's a hospital not far away. On our next visit, which was on a dark, misty afternoon, we had Tiger Best Bitter (4.3% ABV, Everards Brewery Ltd., Narborough, Leicestershire). This was a nice snappy pint which helped to clear up the thick drizzle in our heads. When we stopped in for lunch with my visiting mother we had pints of Cains Bitter (3.5% ABV, Robert Cain Brewery, Liverpool, Merseyside). This was a very "regular pint": not exactly inspirational in a literary sense, but it did help soothe our weary ears which were being assaulted by the soundtrack of the Homer Simpson fruit machine in the corner.

Noah's Ark has a reasonable-looking food menu and our lunches were satisfactory, although not particularly outstanding. The decor of the pub features a pool table up front and lots and lots and lots of photos on the walls of ships, horses, old houses and scenes, old breweries, and, of course, arks. Oh, by the way, this is a wheelchair-friendly pub as well, for all those real ale-loving wheelchair-bound animal couples out there..

Up the hill just a bit is the Ball Inn, a sports pub with too many handpumps to count. With two pool tables and a wood floor this is a much bigger and less cosy pub which obviously attracts students as well as Sheffield Wednesday fans. (I'm just assuming the latter because of the large Sheffield Wednesday collage on the wall.) Our first pints here were of Black Sheep Best (3.8% ABV, Black Sheep Brewery, Ripon, North Yorkshire), a curly bitter suggestive of curly wool. On another visit, on an extremely busy Saturday night when the place was packed, we gulped down pints of Dorset Best (4.1% ABV, Badger Brewery, Blandford St Mary, Dorset) while waiting for our Indian takeaway. This was a rather innocuous pint which served the purpose of killing a few minutes before our destiny with food poisoning. (Needless to say, don't be tempted by the nearby Indian takeaway...)

I'm not sure just which sport the Ball was named after. Cricket, most likely, as it seems to be the most traditionally important sport in England. All I know is the pub probably wasn't named after the kind of ball you're on when you're "on the ball", or after a fancy dance, or even a dog's bollock. But you can never be sure...

Between Noah's Ark and the Ball Inn, off on a little side street, is the Masons Arms. Our first visit was on a quiet St. Patrick's Day afternoon. This is a very quiet neighbourhood pub, student-free -- or at least it was on this particular Sunday afternoon. And quiet, that is, except for the landlady who was dressed in shocking green with a sparkly green horseshoe hanging from her blindingly emerald green leprechaun hat. I wonder if she's even remotely Irish... Anyway, we tried pints of what the Masons is locally known for: John Smith Magnet (4.0% ABV, John Smith Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire), which features a horseshoe magnet on the pub clip. Smooth and dark, this is quite pleasant for a smooth nonbitter beer, but not exactly magnetic to a hops lover like myself. I was tempted to see what would happen if I rubbed my credit and debit cards against the glass. Would they become demagnetised and invalid? Possibly, but only because my glass was soaking wet. (No, that wouldn't affect credit cards, because they're always good for prying open doors when you've lost your keys in the rain, or for scraping ice off windscreens.) Obviously the magnetism has nothing to do with the Beer Lambert Law, which relates more to the absorption of light. Because if we're talking about the absorption of beer, especially the little puddles dribbled onto a table, a couple of beer mats usually take care of that. If only I had a little pile of iron filings on me -- or even a pocket compass -- I could test the magnetism of the beer. At least I could tell where I was in relation to the North Pole. Which way would be north, anyway? Which way's up? With the Grand Prix in New Zealand on the TV in the corner it would be hard to say, because everything's relative. How do all those cars go so fast on the other side of the globe without falling off, anyway? Is that because of the centripetal force? Or perhaps the centrifugal force? Or is it my pint of John Smith Magnet?

I suppose I'll have to return to the Masons, if only to perform a few more scientific experiments...

Noah's Ark Updates
(Last updated 31 December 2011)
Ball Inn Updates
(Last updated 27 July 2013)
Masons Arms Updates
(Last updated 19 January 2019)