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guinness eileen

Heist Brew Company, 107 Neepsend Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

I believe it was on a Sunday afternoon last April, after the third lockdown -- or perhaps it was the fourth or the fifth or maybe the tenth. (Honestly, I’ve lost track -- it’s all been pretty much of a blur). Anyway, it was that golden week when the flowers were blooming, the birds were singing, the children were laughing and frolicking, and the pubs were finally allowed to re-open their beer gardens. This meant that all of us could actually leave our houses, meet up with a maximum of five friends, and once again experience that happy sensation of clutching a freshly poured pint in hands that would quickly turn numb with frostbite. (Yes, it was a particularly cold April...)

Because a riverside beer garden sounded particularly appealing, we decided to stop in at the Gardeners Rest. Unfortunately, as it was the first weekend of openings, their beer garden was already full and booked up, so we decided to go elsewhere. It was when we walked out that I spotted the sign directly next door announcing the future opening of the Heist Brew Company.

Having started in 2017 in Clowne, Derbyshire, Heist opened its Sheffield brewery and spacious taproom just a few weeks ago. So one recent Saturday afternoon I walked down with my friend Mike to check it out.

The moment we walked through the door I felt like I’d finally made it back to California, because it looked and felt just like a typical new American brewpub. The taproom consists of two large and spacious rooms, divided by the long bar with the full range of taps on each side. Behind the taps are wide-screen TVs with live updates on what beers are available. I love these screens, having seen my very first back in 2013 at the University of Beer in Davis, California, and often in American brewpubs after that. My favourite was the one at the now-closed Bailey's Taproom in Portland that showed a constantly changing image next to each beer name of the keg and how full it was. (I realise this sort of television is not exactly the latest thriller on Netflix; but as I love spending a good part of my time on flights watching the constantly updated flight map on the back of the seat, I suppose I’m easily amused.)

Heist offers pints, half pints, and third pints, which is such a great idea these days, especially with designated drivers. I suggested to Mike that we could do flights, like my brewpub-exploring friends and I do in America. So we went for 6 third pints, each of us choosing three selections, and happily the little glasses were served on wooden paddles with holes, just like they are in America. Sadly, unlike they do in America, the barmaid didn’t write down the names of the beers for us. So I picked up my flight, asked her to please repeat what my three beers were, and then set them down on our table carefully so that they were in the same order. I think Mike meant to do that as well; but very quickly the second law of thermodynamics took over, and we lost complete track of what beers were what and where. (And, critically, how strong they were, as they ranged from 3.6% to 7.2% in alcohol, and it is good for someone thin like me to keep track of just how intoxicated I’m likely to become.)

Nevertheless, I’ll do the best I can to describe our selections with my scantily jotted notes, in order from lowest ABV to highest:

1. I Thought Falling Anvils Would Be A Bigger Problem (3.6% ABV, Heist). This was a sour, fruited beer, suggested on the menu as having passionfruit, orange, and guava tones. Neither of us found it very sour at all. It was pleasant enough, but a little dull.

2. Bundobust Salted Lemon Sour (4.2% ABV, North Brewery, Leeds, West Yorkshire). This was lovely, like a glass of lemonade for adults. In fact, it was inspired by an Indian lemonade called Nimbu Pani.

3. Savage Scene Inner City Pale Ale (4.9% ABV, Rock Leopard Brewing Company, ). Brewed with Cascade, Columbus, Mandarina Bavaria hops, flaked oats, flaked wheat, pale malt, this is a nicely balanced IPA. It’s a bit on the sweet side, but it’s still really nice.

4. How We Diddling (5.0% ABV, Heist). This is an American pale ale with velvety hops. Mike thought a pint of this would go well with a bowl of salted cashews.

5. It’s Australian and I Made It (6.7% ABV, Heist). This IPA is dry hopped with Galaxy, Bru-1, and Citra, and fermented with Belgian ale yeast. It was a bit of tropical magnificence. Ooh! And it was strong, and so lovely!

6. I Got Ripped Off At A Fair (7.2% ABV, Heist). This beer was great! I mean, what more can I say? It was a bit too strong in alcohol for an easy saunter out of the pub if someone like myself were to drink a full pint of it. But the three or four lovely sips I had, before I left the rest to Mike, didn’t do me any harm. This was strong and absolutely wonderful!

After our confusing but enjoyable dance through the chaotic intersection of our two flights, we decided we really need to come back here again and have, perhaps, just a pint or two apiece. What an old-fashioned idea...

PUB UPDATES:

  • GARDENERS REST, NEEPSEND: After enjoying flights of craft beers at a nearby brewery, three of us stopped in here and had pints of White Gold (4.0% ABV, Durham Brewery, Bowburn, County Durham). This was actually quite a nice pale hoppy brew, after our palates had been on a voyage through sours and strong IPAs.
  • WELLINGTON, NETHERTHORPE: Two of us stopped in here one typically rainy September afternoon after work, and we sat in the garden under the wooden covered area. The tables out in the open have canopies over them now, as many pub gardens are going for at the moment. As there was nothing appropriate on cask today, the barman recommended a craft beer, Alcis (4.2% ABV, Neepsend Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which he said is normally on cask. So we both went for it, and it was really nice! Dark gold in colour and zippity-hoppy, it suited the suddenly rainy but still humid Thursday afternoon. I was still wearing my short jeans, and both of us were in short sleeves, so it wasn’t autumn just quite yet. This was a very thankfully hoppy enjoyable pint, with a hint of dank and suggestion of sour, and a heavenly smell!

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE:

  • Doctor Morton's Demon Drink (4.2% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). According to the warnings on the can, aside from causing idiocy, blindness, sunstroke and lycanthropy, this may cause double visiondouble vision. At that reasonable ABV, and with all those lovely New World hops, I don’t think it’s a danger. The day is already surprisingly scorchio for Sheffield, so I don’t think I can cause any more damage as far as killer heat waves, flooding, and attacks by urban nuisance wolves. So I’m just sitting back and enjoying this very nice drop and wishing we were sitting in somebody’s garden having a barbecue.
  • Splendour (4.4% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield South Yorkshire). Described as a dry hopped orange infused pale, this was pleasantly hoppier than I was expecting, with a very subtly orange-peel hint as well.