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Previous Pint Pleasures - October 8, 2003

guinness eileen

Kelham Island Tavern, 62 Russell Street, Kelham Island, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

In the Real Ale Beer Triangle of Sheffield there are some remarkable pubs, many of which I have already reviewed: the Cask and Cutler, the Fat Cat, the Gardeners Rest, the Hillsborough Hotel, the New Barrack Tavern. I don't know why it took me so long to discover the Kelham Island Tavern, but now that I have I've just got one question: what was I doing with myself all that time? What was I thinking? Ah, well, I'll just have to make up for lost time.

This traditional little pub, situated on a back street near Shalesmoor, offers everything you could wish for in a pub: good beer, good cheap food, a wide mix of customers, and a great atmosphere. The L-shaped room features a wood and tile floor with nice art on the walls and hops hanging from the ceiling.

The pub was reasonably busy when my partner and I stopped in during a recent Sunday lunchtime. As they don't take credit or debit cards and we had just enough cash for 2 pints, Andrew sat down with our drinks while I headed off in the direction of a nearby cash machine, armed with hand-scribbled directions from a local. I'd forgotten that directions from a local Shefffielder can be not only somewhat inaccurate but quite adventurous; and after I returned from my "5-minute" walk to the petrol station -- which turned out to be more of a 20-minute safari of a detour down roads which had never seen anything like a petrol station -- the pub had filled up even more and was quite packed. The crowd consisted of all sorts, from young to old, from casual groups of friends to young trendy types, and surprisingly no stereotypically obvious CAMRA types -- not a fuzzy beard or woolly jumper in sight. And everybody was friendly and they were all talking about beer!

The bar at Kelham Island features an abundance of handpumps offering a wide range of ales from small independents as well as ciders and continental beers. And the landlord is obviously proud of his wares and knows what he's doing: as he was pouring a pint of Belgian ale the pump ran out before the glass was full, so he gave it to the customer for free. And to our eyes it was a beautiful seven-eights of a pint, indicating the beers turn over quickly and are good to the last drop. How exquisitely wonderful to know whatever you order will be spot on. Yes, this is a truly great pub!

We had pints of Memento (3.8% ABV, Leyden Brewery, Lord Raglan Pub, Bury, Lancastershire), a smooth dark autumnal beer very reminiscent of Adnams Fisherman's Ale, and at only £1.60 a pint. This is a very cosy, friendly beer which suits such a cosy, friendly pub. As we were hungry we took advantage of the simple menu of pub snacks, and I have to say Andrew's regular and my veggie cheeseburgers were very good and the chips were excellent -- and quite cheap as well. It's good to know a pub where one can get both an excellent pint and excellent chips. This was one of my eternal quests back when I lived in SoCal and in Seattle: finding both a good pint of beer and a good bowl of chips. It's not as easy as it seems.

The pub, which used to be called the White Hart, dates from the late 19th Century. There is a small but pleasant garden out back with umbrella tables and flowers. Apparently there is live folk music on Sunday nights as well. Ah, well, we shall find out -- we plan to spend a lot more time at the Kelham Island Tavern. So if you happen to stop in and see a skinny American woman with her bald British partner both moaning happily over their pints, be sure and say hello. Oh yes, and don't forget to get the next round in...

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(Last updated 22 November 2016)