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Previous Pint Pleasures - May 13, 2003

guinness eileen

Springfield Tavern, 182-184 Broomspring Lane, Broomhall, Sheffield

In finding Sheffield pubs to review I've relied on either the well known real ale pubs in my area or on the surprises we've encountered while wandering afield. This week I'm featuring a surprise on my own doorstep: the Springfield Tavern, tucked in a small lane near Broomhill between Hallam University and the University of Sheffield. We stumbled across this pub on a recent walk to the Vine Inn in Sharrow. Not far from the university buildings along Collegiate Crescent, this pleasant little L-shaped pub features wood floors and a clean and tidy atmosphere. The front room is where the locals congregate, whilst in the side room where we sat there is plenty of room for pool and darts as well as golf-related displays and dioramas on the wall. I'm not really sure where the golf motif comes from since there don't seem to be any golf courses nearby. But sometimes pub decor can't be easily explained.

Our pints of Olde Trip (4.2% ABV, Hardys & Hansons PLC, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire) were most interesting and well suited to the lightly rainy day. My first impression was of a darkish but bitter ale with a full-ish character. The first word that came to mind was fulsome, but I was thinking in terms of "well-developed and rounded", which is the sixth definition of the word in my dictionary, and the previous five definitions are a bit insulting and not what I meant at all. And I definitely didn't mean folsom, as in the prison made famous by Johnny Cash. So, well, never mind: "full-ish" it is. Trevor described it as "a palpable hit", and Andrew remarked that it was "very clever, deferring to porterness, with a faint round fruity flavour and a good snappy bitter finish." Yes, I think that about sums it up, fully. Apparently Olde Trip was originally brewed as the house beer at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham which, dating back to 1189 AD, is Britain's oldest pub. Hopefully we'll visit this pub on a future outing; but for now it's good to know we can have a little taste of it at home.

The Springfield Tavern closes in the late afternoons, which is unusual for a pub so close to such a large population of students and faculty. The full-time student population at the University of Sheffield alone is 16,400, with an additional 4,000 part-timers. I was once told that 40,000 pedestrians, most of them students and faculty, cross at the traffic lights on Fulwood Road in Broomhill every day. Whether this is the same 40,000 pedestrians every day wasn't made clear. Perhaps some of these are golfers as well.

I wonder if Johnny Cash has ever walked across Fulwood Road. I wonder if he's ever been in Sheffield. I wonder if he plays golf. I wonder if I'm ever going to finish this column on a relevant note...