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

Previous Pint Pleasures - April 14, 2003

guinness eileen

Porter Brook, 565 Ecclesall Road, Sharrow, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

Vine Inn, 160 Cemetery Road, Sharrow, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

After my six-month stint in suburban Southern California, where nobody walks and the only purpose of the pavements seems to be to separate the houses from the streets, I have been happily romping up and down the hills of Sheffield, enjoying the fresh spring air and the amazing views. For the past couple of Sundays I've been going on walking excursions with my friend Trevor, our local Walkley audio visual archivist. Our first walk took us to the Wilson Snuff Mill on the River Porter in Sharrow. This scenic mill which was operative until recently dates from the mid 18th century and belonged to Joseph Wilson who had a successful business with Thomas Boulsover, the inventor of the material known as Sheffield Plate. Wilson eventually started his own business which included making snuff at the water powered mill.

Sadly the mill is closed to the public on Sundays, but we did get some good peeks through the fence before wandering over to Porter Brook to slake our thirst. This Whitbread Hogshead pub is situated in the upscale part of Ecclesall Road, and I've heard it can get crowded with yuppies on some evenings. But on this Sunday afternoon the clientele seemed like a fairly normal urban crowd with Sunday diners, students, and snuff mill explorers coexisting peacefully. Situated on the River Porter, the pub offers a pleasant atmosphere, especially if you sit at the big table in the middle alcove. There are 10 handpumps, and I opted for a pint of Deuchers IPA (3.8% ABV, Caledonian Brewing, Edinburgh, The Lothians), one of my current favourites. As is common in pubs catering to students it was served cold, but it was a very, very crisp pint, well kept and quite satisfying. The pub features food as well as cask ales, and we spotted an espresso machine in the corner for those who prefer to get revved up rather than calmed down. It's always good to see this option, especially if one of your party is a designated driver.

On the following Sunday we returned to Sharrow to visit the General Cemetery. This beautiful woodland cemetery, designed by Sheffield architect Samuel Worth, opened in 1836 as a burial ground for the city's middle class, nonconformist population, and 14 years later it expanded to include Church of England burials. The 17-acre cemetery features a chapel and catacombs and functions as a local conservation area. I was reminded of Highgate Cemetery in North London as we made our way along the overgrown paths -- except that instead of finding Karl Marx' imposing megalith we came across the fine ironwork monument of Mark Firth, a local steel magnate who founded the college which later became the University of Sheffield. We also came across a large weathered headstone etched with the single word WINDROSS. "Windross..." Such a delectably powerful name, dark and dramatic, almost like "Heathcliffe". As an alternative we could imagine the name on the lips of the dying Orson Wells in Citizen Kane: "...Windross..." Ah yes, who was Windross? When did Windross live and die? Was Windross a person or just a concept? Or just a bit of headstone poetry, like a two-syllable haiku?

Although the latest are from the 1970s most of the 77,000 graves in the cemetery date from the 1800s. But alas, traipsing through a cemetery is thirsty work, and we simply didn't have time to explore all the graves. So after a generous sampling we headed off down Cemetery Road to the Vine Inn. This pleasant, friendly pub consists of several rooms with wood floors and lots of music and advertising posters on the walls. We ordered pints of Kelham Island Gold (3.8% ABV, Kelham Island Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), a straw-coloured beer with a nice bitter edge, perfect for necropolistic contemplation. Trevor, who claims he's a lager lout (but not really), awarded this the highest compliment he can pay to a real ale: "Mighty fine!" Yes, this is a mighty fine beer, I thought as I sipped and watched the tiny man pile his coins into the fruit machine. And that tiny chair Trevor sat in...why was everything so small? Had I fallen through a deceased rabbit's hole in the cemetery? What does that say on my pint glass? "Drink Me"? Or is it...could it be..."Windross"?

The Vine Inn features a friendly staff and an intriguing sandwich menu featuring selections such as "Brie and Grapes", "Feta Salad", and "Organic Free Range Egg Mayo". Hmmm...what's organic free range mayo like? Does it differ that much from barn-raised mayo? I can picture a spring drive in the country, past pastures full of young mayos romping and grazing...ah, yes, definitely a Windross experience...

Porter Brook Updates
(Last updated 30th May 2011)
Vine Inn Updates
(Last updated 13th May 2003)