CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> Two Sheffield Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - July 18th, 2001

guinness eileen

The Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

The Pump Tavern, Cumberland Way, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Before I start reviewing pubs I'd like to mention a couple bottled beers I tried recently. The first one, T.E.A. (4.2% ABV, Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham, Surrey), was the Silver Medal Winner in the Great British Beer Festival of 2000, not to mention the Best Bitter Gold Medal Winner. I have yet to try this on cask, but out of the bottle it poured well, imparting a fine quality bitterness, good for soothing a downtrodden spirit. As I downdrank my sample I noticed the label says "For the taste of yesteryear still enjoyed today." Well, as far as I know, this is today, not yesterday, although we're all living a fraction of a second in the past, so who's to say? Also on the label is "Best drink of the day." Mmmm, now that coffee time's over, yes! I heartily agree! This is a good traditional English bitter, precisely as it says on the label. Everything claimed is correct. It is not wrong. This is an honest, true, right, normal perpendicular beer, not the least bit crooked -- a straight beer for eccentric tongues to use as a roadmap. This is a clearly-posted beer, no detours -- so you'll be home in plenty of time for tea.

The second bottle I tasted was Black Sheep Ale (3.8% ABV, Black Sheep Brewery, Ripon, North Yorkshire) -- "The culmination of five generations of brewing expertise," it says on the label. This is another nicely bitter bitter, just the way I like 'em. There's a nice branded-paper-style graphic of a black sheep on the label -- although it's more of a brown colour. But "Brown Sheep" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Black Sheep". Has anybody had an uncle, aunt, or cousin who was considered the brown sheep of the family? I don't think so...anyway, it's a nice brown beer with a satisfyingly black bitterness.

And now on to the pubs. When we were in Sheffield a couple months ago we visited the Rutland Arms. A CAMRA-listed pub since 1993, this friendly, popular corner pub is located a short walk from the city centre. We sat at the bar and chatted with the landlord while sipping absolutely superb pints of Barnsley Bitter (3.8% ABV -- although the landlord said it was more like 4.0%, Barnsley Brewing Co Ltd, Barnsley, South Yorkshire). On the wall was an advertisement for the beer which said "Definitely NOT smooth", which is quite accurate: this is a wonderfully bitter malt with a deep cocoa colour which accentuates the deep coffee bitter. We were told the beer contains cocoa along with several other flavouring ingredients. All I know is it ensconced itself immediately into my list of favourite real ales. It's a wonderful beer which makes the drive to Yorkshire well worth the petrol. (And the fact that it was only £1.48 a pint makes it even better.)

Although we were driving and could sample only the one pint of Barnsley Bitter, there were 5 real ales on that day with two additional ones coming the next day. The Rutland Arms is a pleasant, roomy place, with decorative plates all over the walls. There's a nice-looking vegetarian menu, with lots of tempting entrees including chestnut, leek, and mushroom bake. Sadly we'd already eaten lunch, so we'll have to sample the cuisine next time. And there will be plenty of next times: Sheffield is too wonderfully crawling with good pubs to ignore.

I didn't expect the Pump Tavern to be anything special. Located just off the Moor shopping area, it appeared to be your average city restaurant-pretending-to-be-a-pub. But since there were three of us, all needing a quick bite and a pint, and Calder had a very short lunch break, this place was handy. We were quite surprised by our pints of Tetley's Bitter (3.7% ABV, Carlsberg-Tetley Brewing Co., Leeds, West Yorkshire). This was probably the first decent, nonfearful pint of Tetley's I've ever experienced. I couldn't believe I was actually thoroughly enjoying it, considering all those unpleasant pints I'd previously endured of the Southern version of Tetley's. And my veggie cheeseburger wasn't bad at all, either. The pool table nearby was pleasing as well, with a bright red felt and blue and yellow balls -- but at 80p a game we decided to forgo the unusual colour experience. I would like to try playing pool on a red table someday, though, because red is my favourite colour, and my eyes feel so good when I see red. But would I get confused and bypass the blue balls by slamming the pool cue into the red felt, thereupon charging out of the pub and attacking the first person I run into who's dressed like a matador? Quite possibly; but then I don't claim to be a great pool player...

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