CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Two Sheffield Micropubs
The Bar Stewards Bar & Bottle Shop, 163 Gibraltar Street, West Bar, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
The Ecclesall Ale Club, 429 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Micropubs are starting to pop up all over Sheffield, which is good news in this era when too many pubs close their doors. After all, a micropub doesn't need an established pub building. One can open a micropub in any old unused shop, fast food joint, vape outlet, estate agents' office, post office, gift shop, you name it. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to come home one day and find some enterprising young person has turned our lounge into a micropub. Although considering the miniscule size and confused state of our lounge I wouldn't advise it.
I've previously reviewed the Walkley Beer Company, the Beerhouse, the Portland House, the Itchy Pig, the Drink Inn, and most recently Guzzle, and already I've got two more micropubs to talk about.
Having opened in late 2016, the Bar Stewards is located directly across the road from a classic cask ale pub, Shakespeares. It's run by beer lovers Charlie and Alan in a space that was once an estate agents' office. When we visited in 2017 it seemed quite bare, with the bar at the rear, three tiny tables by the front window, and a wood-floored void in between. Fortunately there was a sign announcing more seating in the back.
After ordering our pints from the barman -- who started all of his sentences with the word "So" -- the three of us scrunched up at one of the tiny tables with our drinks. Andrew and I had pints of single hopped Ahtanum APA (4.0% ABV, North Riding Brewing Company, Scarborough, North Yorkshire). It was pleasant enough, with a mildly woodsy character from the Pacific Northwest hops. I also had a taste of Mike's pint, The Devil Made Me Do It (5.5% ABV,, Arbor), a stout dry hopped with Citra, Mosaic, Bravo, and Simcoe. Although I enjoyed the hops character it was too malty for me, although Andrew thought it was great.
On the walls around ius were paintings in different styles of various musicians covering a wide spectrum: Debbie Harry, Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and Eddie Vedder. At the time we visited there were four handpumps and five craft beer taps, and bottles for sale as well. The venue can be hired, and they offer mobile bar services as well.
I'm afraid I can't think of much else to say about our visit. I suppose the place is worth another visit after all this time.
Over on Ecclesall Road, the currently most recent micropub to open is the Ecclesall Ale Club. Located just off the Berkeley Centre, the space was formerly Eccy Booze. As opposed to the Bar Stewards, this micropub has quite a bit of atmosphere, as the owners wanted to give the feel of an old private club.
The pub is the first brewery tap of local brewery The Brew Foundation. After examining the handpumps with not much help from the distracted barmaid, we went for pints of Free Beer (4.4% ABV, The Brew Foundation, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). Brewed with Chinook, Simcoe, and Mosaic APA hops, this had a slightly caramel malty sweetness but it wasn't offputting at all. Like so many beers in these trendily vegan times it's unfined and therefore slightly hazy -- and of course vegan.
The pub is dark and cosy, with bookshelves lit with retro table lamps, a random collection of furniture, and classical art on the walls. At the time of our visit they had five handpumps, eight craft beer taps, and plenty of wines, spirits, and a fridge with bottles and cans to take away. It had a really nice feel, and on this Sunday afternoon it was full of Ecclesall Road-area students. I'll admit we were obviously the oldest customers by a long shot, but this never bothers me. As we sipped our cloudy pints we discussed Couch, the cafe situated directly across the road. With the realisation we were sitting on chairs rather than couches, I suddenly wondered if we were in fact drinking apricot nectar instead of beer. And were we perhaps sitting in a pet shop instead of a micropub? All I knew for sure was that my glass was definitely not a pipe.
This trend of turning empty storefronts into cask ale venues is very promising, and at the moment yet another micropub is due to open in a few months not far from where I live. Personally I think we should turn all nail parlours into cask ale pubs. And while we're at it, maybe we could turn the Home Office into a giant Wetherspoons...