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Millowners Arms, Kelham Island Museum, Alma Street, Neepsend, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Here in Yorkshire, the short dark days of winter seem to have fallen upon us like a house caving in after being hit by an Airbus A380, and it seems like only yesterday that it was autumn. So, as many people I know are at the moment, I’m living in a bit of emotional hibernation, reliving my past lives.
So it was a little over two months ago that I awoke to a pleasantly cool but sunny autumn day in Sheffield--in other words, a perfect day for a walk involving hopefully an interesting pint. A cask-ale-and-walk-loving friend of mine suggested that Kelham Island would be a good destination. But once again, this same friend cancelled at the last minute.
So instead of feeling let down, I decided to walk down by myself and see what I could find. It turned out that this was the weekend of the Sheffield Beer and Cider Festival, and there were a lot of people out walking, all seemingly heading in the same direction that I was heading. The festival is normally held in the Kelham Island Museum; but this year, because of Covid-19, it had been organised as a series of different beer events at different pubs around the city.
On my way down to Kelham Island, I paused outside the Saw Grinders Union, formerly the Globe Works, and had a nice chat with the security guard who tried to coax me into that bar. I promised him that I would stop in on another occasion, and I continued down to where the crowds were heading. As I passed the Fat Cat, which was obviously celebrating the festival, people were spilling out the front door, queueing on the pavement for pints--and the same with the nearby Kelham Island Tavern, where I could see a crowd of people out in front.
I continued on, passing the equally crowded Craft and Dough, and finally ended up walking through the open gates of the Kelham Island Museum, where I found a much more reasonable-sized crowd at the Millowners Arms.
At one time, this pub was only accessible by access to the Museum during museum opening hours, eventually extending its opening times to normal all-day-and-week pub hours. The only time I’d ever been in this pub was several years ago during one of the beer festivals, when I was battling my way through the multiple bars in the Museum premises, trying to find one that wasn’t overpacked. At that time I ended up opting for hanging out in the main festival tent, as the bar area was vast, with hundreds of beer selections.
Today, however, while nearby pubs were looking claustrophobic, the Millowners Arms was pleasantly busy but not too much. I ordered a pint of Secrets of the Subterranean (4.0% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire) a strangely lemon-coloured beer, seriously yellow but clear. As the inside of the pub wasn’t really drawing me to stay, I took my pint outside into the large seating area, found myself a table on the side, and sipped my pint while enjoying the cool and cloudy but very pleasant afternoon. In fact, it was so pleasant that I was actually excited to be thoroughly enjoying my own company.
The “Secrets” of this beer were described as the Sorachi Ace, Eureka, and Enigma hops, so that’s apparently what made it such an interesting beer. While I sipped the secrets, I was enjoying observing the interesting crowd as well, especially the woman near me who was wearing 1950s-style retro red scarf, with a retro hairstyle and glasses, and a small Albert Einstein over there, drinking a glass of white wine. Most of the patrons were typical groups of young people, scattered here and there at tables, and the background music was sort of technochill. As I had plenty of time to observe and contemplate, I did notice that I was the only single person there, and, thankfully, I didn’t care at all.
The food served at the Millowners Arms seems to be mostly burgers, sandwiches, loaded fries, and nuts. But today the pub was also celebrating Oktoberfest, so I could see a lot of German-style pretzels. I was fully expecting an oompah band to show up at any moment, but this never happened (probably fortunately).
The Kelham Island Museum, by the way, is worth a visit if you're visiting Sheffield or if you just happen to be a resident who’s never been there. It’s got plenty of exhibits on Sheffield’s industrial heritage, not to mention a Bouncing Bomb from the WWII Dambusters, and seeing a demonstration of the 12,000hp River Don Engine is an unbelievably cool experience. There is also a row of Little Mesters workshops, featuring real cutlers and other artisans shaping their wares.
And, of course, there are plenty of fine pints to enjoy nearby after your visit.
BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE: