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Previous Pint Pleasures - May 11, 2002

guinness eileen

Walkley Cottage, 46 Bole Hill Road, Walkley, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

At the beginning of 2011 the Walkley Cottage closed for business. In August 2011 it was re-opened under the management of Alan Ward, former landlord of the Freedom House. In 2018 Alan finally left the Walkley Cottage.

Most of the cask ale pubs scattered around the Walkley-Crookes side of Sheffield are either in areas of interest to industrial archaeologists or buzzing with cyclical spurts of university students. The Walkley Cottage boasts neither of these features. Located near scenic Bole Hill and featuring a spectacular view out toward the Rivelin Valley and the hills of Derbyshire, this classically traditional pub attracts mostly locals who enjoy the relatively quiet, comfortable atmosphere and the nice selection of real ales. The landlady is a lover of the stronger dark ales, so one of these is always on a handpump along with around 5 other selections. The food is reportedly good, with several vegetarian specialities featured on the menu, and the place is often packed on Sunday lunch. There's a half-sized snooker table in the small original bar on the left, and games are free on Mondays. And last but definitely not least there's Max, the independent-minded Springer spaniel who rules the roost.

On our first visit we had pints of Landlord (4.3% ABV, Timothy Taylor & Co. Ltd., Keighley, West Yorkshire). Mine was an excellent, absolutely perfect pint! After breaking our backs running up and down between four floors hauling chairs and bags and boxes of belongings and a dented, faded Aqua-Vac that resembled a down-and-out R2D2 who had drunk his liver to destruction on proceeds from the first Star Wars film, this was a YES! pint, an instant back reliever. On our next visit we had Red Heart (4.1% ABV, Barnsley Brewing Co Ltd, Barnsley, South Yorkshire). I'm madly in love with the Barnsley Brewery, and I've never been disappointed by their superb creations. This beer is mmmmmmMMMM--HOPPY!!! It hits the palate like a jackrabbit on a hot tin roof, with almost a dry-hopped flavour on top of intense, spicy hops and that wonderful Barnsley bitterness. Mmmph! This was a most welcome pint to quench the mighty thirst which developed during the day's trip to Doncaster which was detoured by road works, followed by getting stuck in Sheffield Friday afternoon traffic, which meant I was imprisoned in my car seat for a total of five hours. After this stint of cruel and unusual in-car-ceration I tasted this pint and fell in love...

On another visit we tried Dark Side (4.4% ABV, Boggart Hole Clough Brewing Co., Moston, Manchester). This is a very nice stout: pleasantly dark and bitter, easy to drink, a "three quarters stout", as my companion commented. It was good for a stomach ravaged by a bad pint I'd had the day before down south in Folkestone. A good stout is always a nice stomach cure, and seeing as how I was preparing my stomach for a nice homecooked spicy Taiwanese meal it definitely did the trick.

In early April we had pints of Plunge (4.6% ABV, Cottage Brewing Co. Ltd., Castle Cary, Somerset). On this unusually warm day there were lots of people wearing t-shirts, basking in the gardens and at sidewalk tables -- I half expected to smell coconut oil and hear the sound of water splashing. So where's the public swimming pool? How can we take the Plunge when there's no body of water nearby? Oh well, here goes...ouch! Watch the head...this pint was bit too thick and feathery to be a properly refreshing swim. There's not enough bitter -- only a bitter horizon which you have to swim out to somehow. To put it another way, it's a nice pint but the sun sets quickly and you'll be in bed by the time you appreciate it.

Our St. George's Day pints of Bombardier (4.3% ABV, Charles Wells Brewery, Bedford, Bedfordshire) were accompanied by a St. George's Day promotion where you can win your very own suit of armour. My friend couldn't see any point to owning a suit of armour -- but I, being the bizarreal artiologist I am, can easily picture a nice suit of armour standing proudly alongside my antique hair dryer and my pitching Godzilla. The tables were covered with Bombardier finger-puppet beer mats where you can make St George battle The Dragon on your two hands -- or have them do a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers routine. (My companion thought they were for arm-wrestling, but I can't quite picture that -- the holes are a bit too small to get one's arms through). Ah, well...we'll see if I win the suit of armour, and if I do, if I can arm-wrestle or tap dance while wearing it.

Our most recent pint was Vale Pale Ale, or VPA (4.5% ABV, Brewster's Brewing Co Ltd, Stathern, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire). This is a very simple beer with a single flavour and a good bitter aftertaste. I can't really think of anything creative to say about it, except that it tastes like dark wood, perhaps a late 19th century table top with a slightly scratched finish.

Oh, one last thing: if you visit the Walkley Cottage with the intention of tasting all the real ales including the strong one, I should warn you about the backwards clock. Although it might seem as if you're retreating from the city and stepping backward in time you really aren't -- you'll still have to go to work tomorrow no matter how many pints you drink. I suppose if you were to take the Concorde across the International Dateline in the proper direction you might be able to make your night off last twice as long -- but you still won't be able to go backwards. Time flies like an arrow, you know, and flies like a banana now and then. So if you're easily confused, I'd recommend taking a hand mirror along with you to the pub...

Walkley Cottage Updates
(Last updated 4 April 2015)