CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Itchy Pig

Previous Pint Pleasures - March 26, 2017

guinness eileen

The Itchy Pig, 495 Glossop Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Years ago I used to walk to work every day through the Sheffield neighbourhood of Broomhill. But ever since I started to work in the city centre I don't make it to Broomhill very often, even though it's only a 15-minute walk from my house. I suppose in recent years I haven't had that many reasons to go there, especially as the good card shop and the Asian grocery both closed down, and everything else I can find in town. There are a handful of pubs in Broomhill that sell a good pint of cask ale, most notably the classic Nottingham House and the gastropub-centred York.

So I was quite excited when I heard that Sheffield's third micropub was about to open in Broomhill. Considering the other two are on Ecclesall Road -- which isn't exactly a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live and play -- the thought of a potentially good new pub so close to home was exciting. So I was hoping for the best.

On my first attempt to visit I arranged to meet my friend Mike after work, and I found him standing in front of the pub which had closed for a week for remodelling. Disappointed, we popped across the road to the York for what was a good pint; but the rather cold, dark, upscale restaurant feel of the place wasn't exactly what we'd been anticipating. So we decided to try it again.

It was a cold crisp evening when we met the next week, this time successfully inside the Itchy Pig. The tiny space had a bright feeling and was populated with happy cask ale fans. There were quite a few intriguing handpumps on the bar, but I immediately went for the same thing Mike had ordered: a pint of Surreal Ale (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This wonderfully named beer with the cool pump label has a definite hops taste but not really much of a hoppy character. Mike suggested that the hops might emerge if one were to drink this beer with a nice salad. I pointed out that a vinegar-based salad dressing might not be advisable. This prompted a debate on what food would be an ideal partner to this beer, and we mutually came up with sweet potato fries served with sour cream. I think that would definitely complement the surrealism.

For my second pint I had a taste of First Light (4.4% ABV, The Brew Foundation, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). Brewed with Citra hops it was nice, but it wasn't blow-away enough for me to risk imbibing the higher ABV. So I went for another surreal pint and Mike had a pint of Baby Black Mass Espresso Stout (4.8% ABV, Abbeydale) Brewing, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). I was surprised how very good it this stout it. It's not treacly, which is the way stout should be, and it has a wonderful injection of decent espresso to the taste palette.

At that point Mike's friend Dave joined us; and Dave and I proceeded to bore Mike with our discussion about the technicalities of using two-part epoxy resin. Our discussion stemmed from the fact that the bar features 2p coins encased under resin, and the tables have beer mats embedded beneath resin, which made me really want to make my own resin-topped furniture embedding my vast collection of tiny toys and curios.

A few months later on a Sunday afternoon I stopped in for a quick half of Golden Arrow (3.9% ABV, Double Top Brewery, Worksop, Nottinghamshire). The label described it as pale and zingy and the guy leaning on the bar who was drinking it said “Yes, it’s zingy!.” "So what makes it zingy?" I asked. "The hops," said the barman. And that was enough to convince me. A twangy beer, it's rather orange in colour and definitely zingy. And the twang made me think of the old Washburn guitar I learned how to play on as a child, along with my brother and uncle and cousins, that was reportedly carried across America in a covered wagon by a great grandmother or something. As many musical instruments that managed to survive through the 1960s, it eventually ended up covered in plastic daisies. Reminiscing about this family heirloom gave me something to mull over as I supped my twangy and quite yumsy beer.

I was impressed by how lively the pub was for a Sunday afternoon at 3:45. After two really pleasant visits I get a good friendly feeling for the place, and I will definitely come back here on a regular basis.