CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Drink Inn
The Drink Inn, 24 Commercial Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
When I read that a new pub had opened in town called the Drink Inn, naturally I was both amused and intrigued. I mean, you'd most likely expect a place with that name to be a giant barn with no cask ale, cheap drinks deals, and possibly a reputation for rowdy behaviour in the evenings. But maybe it might just be a brand new concept, like for instance a small station that draws in local beers through an underground citywide pipeline and routes them to outdoor meter-controlled taps which accept credit and debit cards. Or perhaps it could be a pop-up performance bar, where customers are invited to sit at a large S-shaped diner counter and have cocktails with Edward Hopper-esque characters, the drinks served by waitresses dressed in short-skirted uniforms with name badges announcing "Marge" and "Cindy", who shout out orders such as , , and .
But since I'd read about the Drink Inn in CAMRA's local publication Beer Matters, I already knew it was simply a new cask ale venue, what they referred to as Sheffield's newest pop-up micropub. So naturally I was intrigued to check it out. Considering the location near Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, which is close to where I work, I decided to talk my workmate John into visiting one Friday after work.
Located around the corner from Fitzalan Square and not far from the old Castle Market, we nearly missed the Drink Inn as we walked past. Opened in December of last year in a former fish and chips shop, it's the size of a takeaway with space for a few tables. As we stood at the bar perusing the three handpumps, I couldn't help admiring the large box of doughnuts which looked quite nice if you like doughnuts. I do like the idea of doughnuts, and I've even featured doughnuts in my latest novel (which you can buy as an ebook at Smashwords.Com or on the iTunes shop. Just thought I'd make a plug). The landlord, who is quite friendly and eager about the venture, says that he offers free food on the bar regularly. That's when I noticed there was also a tray of sandwiches. What a great after-work touch.
After tastes of Farmers Cruci-Bull Ale (4.1% ABV Bradfield Brewery, High Bradfield, Sheffield) and Guzzler (3.6% ABV, York Brewery, Micklegate, North Yorkshire), which I found a bit bland, we both went for pints of Seven Hills (4.2% ABV, Sheffield Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This is always a perfectly drinkable lightly hoppy beer, and served in the Drink Inn's own imprinted glasses it was quite pleasant.
We sat at a window counter, just like in a coffee shop, and watched the view, including many young men passing by with pool cues. The landlord had told us that the Sheffield Crucible Snooker Qualifiers were happening just next door, so that explained the cues. From our window we could see, to the right, the mysterious-looking bowstring arch Supertram Bridge appropriately arching over the Park Square Roundabout, which makes the view look like a rather surreal painting. And directly across the road was the large impressive Canada House, a late Victorian civic building dating from 1874 and once home to the Sheffield United Gas Light company. Today it features a restaurant called Number 1 Oriental Buffet, which sounds like my worst nightmare. (I'm not that fond of typical Chinese food and I don't like buffets. John concurred.)
The Drink Inn features free pizza by the slice on Thursdays starting at 5pm, which sounds good to me seeing as how I get off work at 5:00. Perhaps I'll be able to talk somebody into stopping here for a drink with me again. Friday nights are entertainment nights with sandwiches served, and Saturdays feature Sky Sports football and music at night.
So it's not really a micropub, as the landlord told me, and it's not really a pop-up pub, either, as it's permanent. It hasn't really figured out its identity yet. It's a new kind of pub: a small storefront pub with cask ales, craft bottles, wines, and unusual gins and whiskies: a drink inn, in other words. Currently it's open seven days a week, all day Friday-Sunday, but they're going to experiment with the hours and see what's viable.