CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 3 Pubs In and Near Ecclesall Road

Previous Pint Pleasures - July 30, 2011

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The Botanical, 261-267 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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Champs, 315 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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The Lescar, 303 Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

A few weeks ago my walking companion and I decided to explore some untried pubs along the trendy Ecclesall Road. As this street is very popular with both current and former students, I wasn't too surprised when we walked into the Botanical and found a typical student hangout inside. Formerly the Varsity, this is big pub, with booths in the front area, a huge sofa and cowskin seat in the middle area, and bookshelf-patterned wallpaper in the rear area.

We ordered pints of Black Sheep Best (3.8% ABV, Black Sheep Brewery, Ripon, North Yorkshire) and sat first in the pseudo-library area. Soon depressed by the lack of actual books, we moved out into the back garden which was empty except for us on this slightly drizzly day. We finally ended up sitting at a table in front of the pub with a view of passing life on "Eccy Road", with the massive ivy-covered Marks & Spencer Simply Food Shop directly opposite. The façade of the Botanical which promises a typical pub seems deceptive, as it is merely the wrapping of nothing more than a student bar. And why it's called the Botanical is beyond me, as it's not exactly next to the Botanical Gardens.

Moving on down Ecclesall Road we passed the Caffe Nero where I used to get my double macchiatos when I worked at the nearby university campus. When we were almost directly opposite Collegiate Crescent Trevor, an avid tennis player, suggested that for a laugh we quickly pop into the sports bar Champs to see Jimmy Connors' old metal tennis rackets that are displayed on a wall. We were both pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a long line of handpumps, not something one would normally expect to find in a sports pub.

Naturally we had to sample the wares, so Trevor had half a pint of Jaipur (5.9% ABV,Thornbridge Brewery, Bakewell, Derbyshire) which was absolutely gorgeous as always. I had half a pint of Champs Special Ale (4.5% ABV, Kelham Island Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire) which was absolutely gorgeous as well: hoppily bitter and very surprising to find in a student sports bar. Little did we know about this deceptive gem. I learned later that the pub underwent a major refurbishment two years ago when 10 extra handpumps were installed, and it now specialises in cask ales from Kelham Island and Thornbridge Breweries.

On a later visit we had pints of White Swan (3.5% ABV, White Rose Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). As we had sat at an outdoor table out front on our first visit, this time we decided to more closely explore the interior. We soon realised that the pub is a virtual sports museum, large and cavernous with old and new framed football shirts, framed autographs of athletes and sports figures, framed antique golf balls and club ends, framed tennis bats, photos, and an actual F1 Lotus nosecone.

Further on down toward Hunters Bar we ducked down a side street and ended up in Sharrow Vale Road where we stopped into the Lescar. Although I've heard about this pub since I first moved to Sheffield I'd never actually checked it out, mostly because the only people I personally knew who frequented the place were lager drinkers. I never knew it was such a tardis of a pub, with a small front tap room, then a side room and then a back room behind the central bar, followed by the Little Last Laugh Comedy Club room beyond that, and then another side room on the way back to the sizeable beer garden. It was very crowded on this Sunday and a lot of meals were being served, but there was only one person behind the bar so the service was very slow.

When it was finally our turn I ordered a half pint of Atlantic IPA (4.2% ABV, Sharps Brewery, Rock, Cornwall), brewed with Cornish hops. My half was served in a cut glass tankard, not the type of glass which I would choose. But it was drinkable: dark gold and hoppy with fruitiness. My tankard reminded me of a very old pub I once visited in Alexandria, Virginia, where one could picture the American founding fathers sitting around the table quaffing ale out of tankards while they composed the Declaration of Independence. In contrast my tankard also reminded me of my stops at the long-defunct Ricky's Root Beer stand in Seal Beach, California after a day of body surfing. And here I was in a tardis of a Sheffield comedy-food pub, miles away from Virginia and California, sipping from a tankard while I composed notes for my beer column. It's impressive how much creative power the texture of a glass can have.

Champs Updates
(Last updated 29 September 2012)
Lescar Updates
(Last updated 11 February 2012)