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Perch Brewhouse, 44 Garden Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
I've always been a percher. If there's a stairway leading up to a view, I'll climb it. And if there's somewhere to sit that's elevated, higher than everything else, that's going to be my seat. So when I first heard that there was a new brewpub in Sheffield called Perch, I was very excited indeed.
As Perch opened its doors in August of last year, it's been months since I first wanted to stop in for a pint and a visit. But in these post-lockdown days, it seems that our old friend Time has been marching on a lot faster than it used to. Is this because the earth is spinning faster, or because Time's mate, Life, has been so mundane and unchanging for so many of us that one day, or week, or month, seems the same as any other, and they all tend to blur into each other? Is this why my beer-drinking friends have all but disappeared--because they're experiencing the same thing?
Anyway, as I watched my entire life speeding by, I decided to give up on the idea of any companionship, take the bull by the horns, and seek out this new venue on my own. So on a recent day off, when I had to go into town anyway for some errands, I ended my afternoon by stopping off at Perch, shortly after it opened. Aside from myself there was only one other customer, which made it easier to observe my surroundings.
As I perused the cask choices at the bar, I asked what was pale and hoppy. The landlord thought that "pale" and "hoppy" were two mutually exclusive terms, which seemed a bit strange to me. Anyway, he recommended the Aurornis Xui (4.5% ABV, Dead Parrot Brewing Company, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which I decided to try. Named after the oldest known bird which predated the Archaeopteryx by ten million years, this avian relic boasts Citra, Pearle, and Simcoe hops.
The pub itself, which was opened by Mark Simmonite and his brother Nick, is quite attractive and comfortable. Formerly a workshop, it's now got new furniture and clean polished wood floors. As there were plenty of choices for sitting, I took my pint and grabbed a choice spot on the plush leather sofa, near the standing PacMan machine. (The last few times I played PacMan were on tabletop machines.) As I sipped my pint I was struck by the music being played: "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" by the Animals, followed by "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Did this mean anything? After all, Putin was currently bombing as many Ukrainian citizens as possible, so the songs seemed quite topical.
As far as the extinct bird was concerned, I realised I probably would have gone for a different pint. Although it's described as a pale ale, the Aurornis Xui is quite amber in colour, and a bit too malty in character for my current tastes. When Dead Parrot Brewery first opened in 2018, this was the first beer they produced, so I suppose they were going for something to please a wider audience.
The walls in Perch feature a mixed collection of art, from Cubist paintings, advertising posters, and a framed collection of resined beer mats which match the surface of the bar. Along one wall a long wooden case displays beer bottles, and pleasingly orange paper lanterns hang from the industrial lighting tracks. And leaning against one wall is the obligatory Yamaha acoustic guitar.
On the wall just behind me there is also a mirrored graphic advertising Goose Island IPA, which the pub offers on keg. Having visited the original Goose Island Brewpub back in the 1990s in Lincoln Park, Chicago, I was pleased that the brewery has produced such a decent hoppy beer, which is on tap in so many places. Whenever I'm visiting the US, I always seem to have a pint of this beer during any airport breaks between connections. So I'd be curious to see what it's like on tap in this country. Which is another good reason to visit again...
Since Perch opened, it's become famous for its slow-proved, wood-fired pizzas, and there is a long menu with no less than seven alternatives for a pescaterian like myself. Each pizza has a beer suggestion, and one can order dipping pots as well. (In case any American readers are wondering what the dips are for, it's just another strange British habit.) There are also seven varieties of burgers, all made with Waygu beef, as well as four vegetarian burger options. There is a courtyard outside as well, and live music nights are featured. As the location is only a short walk from another fine pub, the Crow Inn, perhaps this neighbourhood will eventually become Sheffield's Avian Pub District.
BOTTLED/CANNED BEER UPDATE: