CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> 2 More New-ish Sheffield Pubs


Previous Pint Pleasures - April 30, 2013

guinness eileen

The Church House, 4 St James Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

guinness eileen

The Woodside Tavern, 48 Rutland Road, Burngreave, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Recently I've visited two more "new" pubs in Sheffield. I suppose new is not exactly the right word in one case, but it certainly is in the other.

The Church House is so-named because it's located between the Sheffield Cathedral and the Quaker Meeting House. The Grade II listed building underwent a £220,000 refurbishment which included exposing the old brickwork and adding chandeliers. It opened last year as a new cask ale pub featuring brews from the Caledonian Brewery.

When we visited one Sunday afternoon we found ourselves in a dark spacious pub with pictures of historical Sheffield on the walls. Although the interior seems a bit posh the pints are reasonably priced for city centre prices. Our pints were £2.70, which is the same price as one of our out-of-town locals. After perusing the 6 handpumps we both decided on pints of Flying Scotsman (4.0% ABV, Caledonian Brewery, Edinburgh, Scotland). Named after the famous locomotive, this is a nice hoppy amber brew with a bitter malt finish. It's a typical Scottish "heavy", with a bit of fruitiness and the hops eventually fading into malt bitter. There's definitely the taste of some fruit. Andrew thought it was papaya or some other tropical fruit. Could it be a fruit from the Scottish tropics? The thought brings to mind the yucca trees I saw in the town of Stromness on the otherwise treeless mainland of Orkney, so I suppose anything's possible.

We had stopped in on a Sunday afternoon to hear the live jazz we saw advertised, so we sat in the restaurant section near the musicians with some intense lights shining down on us. I felt as if I were in the spotlight and should perhaps perform next. Disappointingly the musicians were simply a duo doing popular songs by the likes of Van Morrison and Sting and not exactly the cool or bebop jazz combo we were hoping for. Still, it was pleasant trying a new pub. In their menu under "beer" they say they offer both national favourites and regional specialities, so hopefully they might branch out from the Caledonian brews to more local guests. If you can't decide which beer to have, you can always order the taster special of 3 one-third pints for the same price as a regular pint.

Along with the reasonably priced pints is a food menu that looks very tempting and and not too expensive. It includes what appears to me to be a proper fish burger, along with taster plates of cheeses, smoked fish, and smoked meats. There are also main dishes and hot and cold sandwiches. We may have to come back for a pub lunch one of these days.

The other "new" pub we tried very recently has been around for a long time, but it's changed its name and now features local cask ales. Formerly the Forest, the Woodside Tavern is located within a breath of the new Toolmakers Brewery which is using the pub as its brewery tap.

Approaching the Woodside was a bit of an exciting adventure. We'd never really noticed anything on Rutland Road beyond the old railway bridge, and as we drove under the bridge we felt like we were exploring new ground. The signs on the pub hadn't been changed yet, so we pulled in by the Forest Pub, parked the car, and approached the door as if we were entering a tribal camp in the rainforest. Inside we found an old-fashioned neighbourhood pub with not much charm, but I instantly spotted the handpumps and the "Woodside Tavern" sign behind the bar and assured my companions we were in the right place.

The pub was full of regulars and seemed quite friendly, and the landlord was very eager to talk to us about his cask ale. On this visit they had 2 brews from Toolmaker, one beer from the Hillsborough Hotel's Wood Street Brewery, and one pump with Ruddles Best. The landlord explained that along with the local micros he wants to have one standard cask ale to appeal to his keg drinkers. There is still a lot more restorative work to do inside the pub, along with plans for more cask ales.

Andrew and I went for pints of Fine Finish (4.3% ABV, Toolmakers Brewery, Sheffield, South Yorkshire), which was very nice and pale and hoppy. Our pints were a tiny bit cloudy, but we think it was because they were so cold. The landlord was concerned about the cloudiness and he was going to ask the brewer, who was due to pop in that afternoon, if this beer was brewed with wheat which would explain the cloudiness. If you closed your eyes it tasted perfectly sparkling, so the two of us weren't worried at all. Mike had a pint of Toffee Hammer (4.1% ABV, Toolmakers) which was a dark caramelly porter, but the caramel taste was very dry, making it appealing to my palate.

The pub is deceptively big and features a red pool tale, a DJ stage, and several rooms. As spring seemed to have finally arrived we moved outside and sat at a table on the first day of the year when we could actually consider such a thing. Across the road there is a field with a stand of trees, obviously the woodside of the name. (I wondered if it used to be a denser forest, hence the former name.) This pub is deceptively close to the Gardener's Rest, so hopefully the cask ale circuit will soon discover this new venue.

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