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Previous Pint Pleasures - February 11, 2012

guinness eileen

Norfolk Arms Hotel, 2 Ringinglow Village, Ringinglow Road, Ringinglow, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

Hammer & Pincers, Ringinglow Road, Bents Green, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

On a dark and rainy afternoon at the end of the year we decided to do something we hadn't done for quite some time: go on a drive in search of an undiscovered pub. I suggested a pub I recalled passing several times that was within Sheffield but on the edge of the Peak District and surrounded by countryside. This way we could feel like we were exploring new ground while not using up too much petrol.

So we drove down Ecclesall Road South and took a road off to the west which eventually plunged into the countryside and Ringinglow Village. There is a story that this pleasantly named village got its name after a man became lost on the moors in bad weather and was saved when he heard the bells of Sheffield's parish church "ringing low" over the moors. But this is probably just a legend, the real etymology having to do with a possible round burial mound on the spot.

The Norfolk Arms Hotel is located where Fulwood Road and Houndkirk Road meet Ringinglow Road, across from a car park leading to woods that eventually lead out onto Burbage Moor. I was reminded of several years earlier when I had taken what turned out to be a bit of a power walk with a friend through these woods and out to the impressive Ox Stones where we rested for a bit and then power-walked back. The pub, a Grade II listed coaching inn, is popular with ramblers, dog owners, and dog-owning ramblers, who were in abundance on this wet day.

We entered the pub and passed through the Mayfield Restaurant and continued through the Burbage Bar. We sat at the end of the bar in what could easily be called Canine Corner, with our backs to one of the log fires. We were surrounded by posh folk with their dogs 'n' denims 'n' days off 'n' dinners 'n' desired doohickeys. We were shortchanged a bit on our pints of Deception (4.1% ABV, Abbeydale Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), with its citrussy hops surrounded by a distinct horseshoe of whomf. As we sat and sipped and admired the brick archway, the wood beam ceiling, and the plain wood bar, we counted the dogs around us: there appeared to be as many dogs as there were people. This is definitely a doggy pub -- a posh doggy pub. There were even some posh doggy biscuits on the bar. We were amused by a little Alsatian who was being a pushy brat, pissed off that all of the other dogs weren't suitably impressed by his constant and very important barking.

Leaving the Norfolk Arms we drove west along Ringinglow Road out of the countryside and into Bents Green, where we stopped at the Hammer and Pincers, known to locals simply as the Hammer. We entered from the rear car park through the spacious back garden and found ourselves in a large two-room pub with five quite interesting cask ales on. The friendly barmaid gave us a taster of Jolly (3.4% ABV, Adnams and Company, Southwold, Suffolk), which we found to be not particularly hoppy nor even very Adnamslike. I was impressed to see an infamous old friend on tap, Bishops Tipple, whose strength has been reduced to only 5.5% ABV so it's a lot safer than the brew I got tippled on years ago in Sussex. We decided to have half pints of Yorkshire Terrier (4.2% ABV, York Brewery, Micklegate, York, North Yorkshire), which seemed like an appropriate post-doggy-pub beer. "Encapsulated fizz like Maltesers, with a tiny starburst bitter" was how Andrew described the beer. "Arf! Arf!" was all I could muster.