CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Horse & Jockey
The Horse & Jockey, 250 Wadsley Lane, Wadsley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Ever since I was a little girl I've been intrigued by the thought of exploring places I've never been to. (I suppose that defines the word wanderlust.) When I was quite young our family summer holidays often involved driving north from Los Angeles, usually only as far as Northern California but sometimes up to the Oregon coast. I always wished that my dad would just keep driving all the way up to Washington State (where I later relocated in my wanderlust) and then to Canada, and maybe all the way up to Alaska. Hell, why not the North Pole? As I matured my travel ambitions widened, and I dreamt of crossing several time zones to the other side of the planet to visit the UK and Europe. Once I realised that ambition, I was still intrigued by places even further afield. It was the exploration of the novel and unknown that appealed to me.
But unknown destinations don't always require saving up your money and booking flights, or even train tickets. I've discovered bizarre little enclaves completely foreign to me which are located much closer to home. For instance, in Los Angeles there was the multicultural Grand Central Market which you could get to from Bunker Hill by riding the bizarre little funicular railroad called Angels Flight; in San Francisco there was the wonderful mishmosh of a triangle where Chinatown, the old-world Italian North Beach, and the strip-joint-and-music-club-infested Red Light District all met, and a few miles east of that were the completely surreal rock houses in the Berkeley Hills; and in Seattle there were the unfortunate houses situated in the permanent shadow of Interstate 5 which passed directly overhead.
Which brings me to Wadsley. I wouldn't want local readers to get their exotic-destination hopes up, as it's a perfectly normal and standard Sheffield area which grew from a chapelry constituted in 1841. By the end of the 19th century there were over a hundred cutler's shops in the village, so it's very Sheffield in nature. . But when we decided to drive from our house down the hill to find a pub in Wadsley, we both became completely disoriented on the journey. No, it wasn't the effect of any strange drugs or psychotic episodes. It was simply the fact that this neighbourhood, so close to us and yet so unfamiliar, seemed so quaint and different from where we live, and I could almost have imagined us booking a B&B there and spending a much-needed night away -- even though it turned out we were only a little over two miles from home.
Now that I've probably caused any Sheffield locals reading this to think I'm absolutely bonkers, I'll get on with the pub.
It was on a Monday afternoon when I had a day off work when we ventured down to the Horse & Jockey, Stancill Brewery's brewery tap located in the aforementioned unknown. (According to Google Maps all I could really tell was that we were somewhere northwest of Hillsborough Park.) The pub is large with a front garden furnished with picnic tables. We parked in the rear car park and walked in the side door to find a large clean and comfy pub consisting of three spacious rooms: a lounge on one side, a public bar on the other, and a snug bar in the middle where the long bar is. The bar has to be long to fit the long row of 10 Stancill handpumps which include a stout, a porter, an American brown ale, a ruby, a ginger pale, and of course the fine Barnsley Bitter. After a short bit of deliberation we went for pints of American Pale (4.0% ABV) which was very nice indeed. As the pub was nearly empty we chatted awhile with the young landlady who also runs the Norfolk Arms in Grenoside. Although the pub is plenty large to be a restaurant they don't serve food, but they do feature food vans that come around on Thursday nights selling things like pizza, burgers, burritos, mussels, the typical festival stuff. Or...did I say mussels?
As we stood at the bar drinking our pints I noticed a very mysterious but appealing object on the wall over the fire in the public bar. It looked to me like a brightly coloured bomb or perhaps a squat totem pole. It's actually a cast for moulten steel, possibly for fire hydrants, painted with nice bright colours, making it a perfect fire ornament.
On the opposite side of the pub in the lounge there is, of course, a horse statue in the window, a carved horse head on the wall, and a saddle over in the corner, completing the horse and jockey theme. And on the wall is an amazing Victorian-era photo of Sheffield milk boys. There are fairy lights in the window of the snug which have remained there since Christmas, as the landlady and her mother think they're too nice to take down. They do add to the elegantly eclectic atmosphere.
Two nights later we came back with our friend Mike. On that occasion I had a taste of the Ginger Pale (4.0%), which was nice but not the same as our ecstatic memories of the old Barnsley Brewery's Ginger Tom, and it wasn't particularly spicy. So Andrew and I went again for pints of the American Pale while Mike had a pint of Isaac (4.5% ABV), an American brown ale. It was surprisingly good, full-bodied with a real coffee punch. It coulda been a contender, had I known it tasted that good. But for my second pint I went for the Porter (4.4% ABV), which was very pleasant as well.
Mike was as taken with the pub as we had been, so we found ourselves calculating the cost of a taxi to the pub from Walkley on a Thursday night so that we could have some Nether Edge Wood Fired Pizza and do perhaps a Stancill Cruise of the handpumps. In a pub we know, a cruise involves starting on the left of the bar and having a successive pint of everything until you reach the right end, or you fall down, whichever comes first. I've never wanted to attempt this myself. But we could at least share half pints of everything. That seems perfectly doable.