CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> 2 Sheffield Micropubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - February 24 2019

guinness eileen

Two Sheds, 235 Crookes Road, Crookes, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

Brewer & Hop Cafe and Micropub, 40 Wolstenholm Road, Nether Edge, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

According to various online sources, the latest trends to emerge in the UK involve bus travel holidays, spending days at hot springs, replacing staff with robots, anger therapy, saving the planet from manmade annihilation, popcorn-style cardigans, a colour called UFO green, upcycling, meal kits, CBD added to everything, and even more bullshit than we’ve been experiencing for the past couple of years. But to me, the most exciting trend, hopefully a lasting one, is the abundant proliferation of micropubs. This is a wonderfully positive and constructive trend. For one thing, empty storefronts and other small spaces that have smothered and died in this depressing economy are experiencing a rebirth with a new identify. And for another thing, we simply can’t have too many decent pubs, can we?

At the end of last September, when I returned home from a visit to America, I was pleased to learn that Crookes’ very first micropub, the oddly named Two Sheds, had finally opened after months of dealing with various issues. A very small place, naturally, that used to be a cafe, and before that yet another cafe, Two Sheds is less than a mile from where I live, making it the second micropub to have sprouted up in my general neighbourhood of Walkley and Crookes (the other being the Walkley Beer Company). I imagine it’s only a matter of time before there are a few more.

A week after Two Sheds opened I went for a visit with fellow cask ale lovers Andrew and Mike. Located across from the Punchbowl, the micropub is indeed small, and the tiny tables were all taken, but there were four giant leather stools available at the side bar. So we must have arrived just in time.

There are usually four cask ales and four craft keg beers on the menu, and there is also a fridge with bottles and cans. Andrew and I both went for pints of Cascade Pale (4.0% ABV, North Riding Brewing Company, Scarborough, North Yorkshire). A darker pale than I'm used to, this is a complicated brew, with a bitter brushy feel, like a cat with semi-long coarse fur. Like all the other cat-suggesting beers I’ve had, it was really good. Mike had a pint of Dead Man's Town (6.2% ABV, Blue Bee Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which is a triple hop IPA. When I tasted it I gasped simply because it’s strong! In fact, it’s like drinking a shot of hoppy whisky.

Our friend Victoria joined us and had a pint of one of the keg beers, Lager Than Life (4.4% ABV, The Brew Foundation, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This is a nice hoppy pilsner: quite flat but bubbly, as a craft lager or pilsner should be.

The pub features painted dark slate blue walls, reminiscent of the blue walls in the York in Broomhill which I used a few years back as a backdrop for a photo. And the hanging lights remind me of yet another place, but I can’t recall where. As we sat and sipped our pints we chatted with the landlord, Ken, who used to work in IT but was made redundant, so he opened this micropub. His other love besides beer is cars, which he collects. In fact, one of the tables has seats from a Jaguar, complete with seat belts. At one point he needed to check something in the cellar and suddenly descended into the ground in front of our eyes. Apparently the only place the cellar head can be located in such a small space is directly behind the bar. The staff are becoming used to it, and at least any clueless customers, especially the heavily imbibing ones, are in no danger of falling in.

For our second round Andrew, Mike, and I all went for a reprieve of our first pints. Victoria had a pint of Heathen (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which is truly heavenly. I regretted not having gone for Heathen in the first place. But, of course, Abbeydale brews are often impressively gorgeous.

We were suddenly joined by friends Becky and Seb, who live just a bit down the hill, and then Olly and Paul, who also live in Crookes. All of a sudden the pub had become crowded, and it wasn't even evening yet. I got the feeling this place might become quite popular.

A couple of weeks later, on a Sunday afternoon, we met here again, but the only beer on that appealed to us, Citizen NEIPA (5.8% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), was stronger than we wanted. So Andrew and I both compromised on half pints. Described as an oatshake New England IPA, this unfined brew was lovely with a zingy bitter. As this visit was during a particularly cold spell, I started to appreciate the fact that this pub always seems to be toasty warm. This was also the first time I noticed the dog biscuit jar on top of the taps, which indicated it’s definitely a dog pub. The only dog in attendance at that moment was a greyhound, but perhaps all the other dogs were still having a romp on Bole Hill and would be in soon.

On our third visit I met Andrew and Mike here after work, and our friend Lulu also joined us for a quick half. This time Andrew and I decided to veer away from cask ale and went for pints of XPA (4.0% ABV, Five Points Brewery, Hackney, London), one of the keg craft beers. As I visit American breweries a lot I'm perfect happy with a craft if there isn't a cask ale that appeals to me, and Andrew's become pretty much the same. And sadly craft beer in the UK is so expensive, normally a pound more per pint than a cask ale. But this beer possessed that mmwph! hops factor. Apparently the hops are Citra and Galaxy, so it must be the Galaxy that gives it the mmwph!. Mike had a pint of Moonshine (4.3% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which is a very pale and mild beer for Mike's usually more robust tastes, and lager drinker Lulu enjoyed her half pint of Lager than Life.

I forgot to ask Ken why he named his pub Two Sheds. The only explanation I found online was in reference to a Monty Python creation, composer Arthur “Two Sheds” Jackson, who is a man who has only one shed. And I have to say that’s a good enough explanation for me.

On the other side of town, and on the other side of the same American trip (meaning in August, just before I left), my friend Mike and I ventured into the depths of Nether Edge one rainy day to check out another micropub, the Brewer & Hop. We were going to take a nice walk from Crookes; but as it was raining, the only day of precipitation between weeks of dry days, Mike decided to drive. This was the second of two attempts last summer for me and Mike to take a cross-town hike to a new pub, the first one being when it unexpectedly rained all day long on the day we’d planned to walk to the Dorothy Pax. These two experiences have given me a great idea for a solution to droughts that we could sell to the councils of afflicted cities and counties. Simply pay for me and Mike to fly Business Class to a location like Los Angeles, and we'll bring along our walking shoes and backpacks and plan a long citywide walk.

Twice we drove past the Brewer & Hop, as it’s very small and looks pretty much like every other hours in Nether Edge. When we passed through the front garden and entered the pub we found ourselves in a surprisingly tiny room, inhabited solely by the barman and a woman playing Patience at one of the only four little tables. We scanned the three handpump options which, at that time, weren’t terribly interesting. So I went for a pint of Hops & Glory (4.5% ABV, Vocation Brewery, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire) which was all right, and Mike had a pint of Seven Hills (4.2% ABV, Sheffield Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which he also said was all right. Neither pint was particularly exciting or inspiring of more interesting descriptions. But because it was a bank holiday weekend our pints were only £2.50, so that was a nice surprise.

We sat at the table by the front window one of the four tables and caught up on what each of us had been doing, my upcoming trip, Mike’s recent travels, Brexit, and other things. A man arrived and sat at the end of the bar, bringing the total occupancy up to four on this Bank Holiday Sunday afternoon. I suppose, considering the child-and-dog-friendly attractive garden out in front, the pub is probably more of a draw on warm and sunny days.

Run by Dom and Lauren, the Brewer & Hop does have a very warm and friendly feel to it, and there are doggy treats and water bowls available. Besides the three handpumps they offer a wide variety of gins and Fevertree tonics, fresh coffee, cakes, bottled craft and international beers, draught lager, and cider. Looking at their Facebook page it does get quite crowded at times, so although I haven't been over there since I’m happy to see it’s surviving.

Two Sheds Updates
(Last updated 24 March 2019)