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guinness eileen

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.

PUB UPDATES:

  • CROW INN, SHEFFIELD: On a recent day after work I met my friend Mike at this pub. For some reason I ordered a pint of My Little Sabrony (5.0% ABV, Arbor Ales), an American pale ale single hopped with Sarro. It sounded interesting at first, but as soon as Mike and I sat in the garden and I took a couple of sips, I regretted my choice. It tasted too much like banana or something. I don’t think I like banana-flavoured beer, even with the touch of coconut. Nope. It was too much for me.
  • CLOSED SHOP, COMMONSIDE: On a recent visit I ordered a pint of Disraeli (5.0% ABV, Stancill Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), just because I knew it was a hell of a lot more interesting than the other bland pales on offer. It was stronger in ABV than I usually allow myself to drink when I’m walking by myself, but hell, I'll make my feet work okay to get myself home. I sat in the garden by myself, which was nice and quiet but quite cold, with the only other occupants being two young women who were not chatting on loudy about “washing their haaaah”, in that irritating manner that so many young British women tend to speak. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m surrounded by these irritating creatures, so it’s a pleasure to hear young women who actually know how to speak and use their voices properly without grating their vocal cords into shredded shards of feedback. I suppose I’m just a grumpy old lady...

    Inside I chatted briefly with my friend Dodge, which is always a nice, anchoring experience.

    A week later I stopped in and had a pint of Amazona IPA (5.0%, Stancill). None of the cask choices on this day really grabbed me so I went for this keg option. I was in a pissed-off mood when I first walked in, but soon I found myself sitting in one of the window booths with some somewhat tipsy friends and strangers, and the lack of any personal issues or agendas among the participants quickly became a really pleasant experience: just friendly drinks and bantering. The Amazona is a great hoppy IPA, but it is a bit strong. Oh well, I thought, I'll make it home just fine. I was enjoying myself. My mood was lifted and it was nice.

    The next Saturday though, my, how things can change. The previous night had been so bitterly cold, with a galeforce wind that felt as if it was sliding directly across the coldest iceberg in the Arctic Ocean before slamming viciously into my face, that all I wanted to do after work was get home, slam the door behind me, and never go OUT THERE again. So this morning I had awoken to an inch of snow covering everything and a gusty wind tossing the treetops. By late afternoon, seeing that the wind had softened its fury quite a bit, I thought I'd venture out for a pint somewhere close to home. So it was back to the Shop. And as it was so wintery and dark, I decided to step away from my constant choice of pale hopmonsters and go for a proper winter beer: a nice dry porter or stout.

    So there I sat with a pint of Black Gold (5.0% ABV, Stancill). The barman gave it a high recommendation as a smooth stout, and it is indeed. Yes, it was like proper black medicine for whatever ails you, be it the weather, the depressing news reports, or the loneliness of friends having disappeared into hibernation. The simple honesty of this Black Gold lifted my spirits. No fancy chocolate-coffee-vanilla salted-marshmallow-caramel oatmeal-maple-pancakes-with-a-cherry-on-top silliness here-- just a good creamy smoothness of stout. Even the early Xmess decorations (it's still November) were nearly tolerable. Nearly, I said…
  • WALKLEY BEER COMPANY, WALKLEY: My friend Mike and I stopped in this local venue one frigid afternoon. It was nice and warm and cosy inside, and I had a pint of Magazine Cover (4.2% ABV, Deya Brewing Company, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire). Brewed with Idaho 7, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, this is very pale and pleasant for a keg beer. I really liked it, and after drinking a third of my pint, I was feeling much happier than I’d been feeling. Mike had an Estonian beer, Kosmos NEIPA (5.5%, Põhjala Brewing Company, Tallinn, Estonia), which was more zingy and flavourful than mine, but that high ABV overshadowed my sensible ABV. So I was quite content with my choice.

BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE:

  • Three of Diamonds (7.0% ABV, Thornbridge Brewing Company, Bakewell, Derbyshire, collaboration with Mikkeller Brewery Copenhagen, Denmark). This passionfruit IPA is brewed with Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops. I drank a can of this at home on a ridiculous day when the rain would not stop and the car battery, after being parked for six days, was completely stone-dead. So it seemed like a good day for a can on the sofa. This beer is a bit sweet, though. I should have suspected that with the passionfruit suggestion, and my American childhood associations with super-sweet soft drinks like Hi C and Kool Aid. But I was hoping that, as it was an IPA with two hops I really like, the hops would temper the sweetness. But then there’s that high-alcohol as well. Oh well, it’s only a Three of Diamonds. It didn’t promise to be an Ace of Spades.
  • Cryo Heathen (5.0% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). It was a tough week, tough days, with lots of rain, Andrew’s injured back, and my work getting suddenly busy, with 98% of the university students walking around unmasked. So I was looking forward to trying this. I do like Heathen, on cask or draft or in the can, and I do love cryo hops. So I had high hopes for this. And oh yes, yes! It was a welcome reward: gorgeous! Each sip massaged my shoulders and kissed my face all over. This is a truly loving beer, a most happy marriage of Cryo and Mosaic hops . Apparently it was brewed in celebration of Abbeydale Brewery’s 25th anniversary, which is definitely something to celebrate.

    Sadly there was the matter of the sensuously smooth, perfectly round glass into which I poured most of the can. As I was sipping this manna from heaven, the glass suddenly slipped out of my hand, and the manna splashed out onto the table and floor in a huge two-thirds-of-the-glass cascade of a deluge… Fortunately I remember where I bought this can, so I’ll be off there for more.

    Earlier I was reading about the distinction between the words inverse and converse. The inverse of a statement is achieved by negating both its hypothesis and its conclusion. For instance, the inverse of “if JC is drinking Cryo Heathen, then she’s drinking a good beer” would be “If JC isn’t drinking Cryo Heathen, then she’s not drinking a good beer.” This would be a logically defective, or false, statement, as would be the converse: “If JC is drinking good beer, then she’s drinking Cryo Heathen.”
  • Lupu Lion (5.0% ABV, Brew York, York, North Yorkshire). Two nights later, on a rainy Saturday evening, I had this other intriguing can I’d bought at the same time. This is an American Pale Ale with lupulin which is the golden part of the hop that gives beer its bitterness, aroma, and flavour. On the can this beer is described as “the hippest cat in the pride, a juicy golden pale ale heavily hopped for roaring citrus notes with a totally paw-some resinous pine finish." The hops used are CTZ (T90 and Cryol), Cascade (T90 and Cryol), and Mosaic (T90 and Cryol, Citra Cryol). Wow, this is another fine beer! It’s like walking through a pine forest while chewing on a lime peel. It clears my sinuses, It zooms my endorphin level right up. It’s like a jacuzzi of a beer experience.
  • Deliverance DDH Mosaic NEIPA (8.5% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). This version of Deliverance is double dry hopped and very strong. The skull’s head on the label made me think of Halloween, which was the day before I drank this, and even more so of the next day, El Dia De Los Muertos. But that high ABV made me very glad that I didn't have to walk anywhere. I have to admit this was definitely high-alcohol tasty, and oh so hoppy, with plenty of Cryo and T90 hops as well as oats and lactose. Yeah, this is a complicated beer. It had been raining steadily outside and very cold, and I’d given up on going outside at all. So this, my deliverance, seemed like a most appropriate beer.
  • Base Runner IPA (6.3% ABV, Bad Seed Brewing Company, Malton, North Yorkshire). Brewed with Citra and Galaxy hops, this beer was named after baseball. It's unfined and unfiltered, so it's very hazy. But oh god, how I love Galaxy. Let me count the ways...1,2,3,4,5,6,7,...this could go on and on...
  • Independence Dry Hopped Pale Ale (4.0% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). Abbeydale created this beer as a collaboration with Indie Beer Hop Day 2021. Using Idaho 7 hops, it's very light in colour but bitterly hoppy. It had been a frustrating day of no help from IT online chats, as well as no one socially to see or chat with. As sad as it might sound, a good beer can always cheer a person up.
  • Wanderer Oat Cream IPA (6.6% ABV, Abbeydale Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire). Brewed with oats, wheat, and lactose, and single hopped with Mosaic leaf, T90 hops, and cryo hops, this slightly unusual IPA offers a typical tropical and stone fruit bitterness with a hint of sweet. When I poured it into my glass, it produced the strangest head I’ve seen in a craft beer poured out of a can: the light frothy cloud towered all over my glass and reminded me of the head on root beer float. This beer offers an interesting tug-of-war in a glass, under a cirrus cloud cover. It makes me want to fly above those clouds again. It’s interesting, like a volcanic caldera bubbling with icy ozone.