Friday, 6 September 2013

Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Ahh, the old university town. Funny to think that when I was here as a student a few years ago I wasn't a fan of ale, instead drawn like a moth to light to the cheapest pint of lager I could find. How times change. In fairness, the pub we're visiting today wasn't there when I was but that's no excuse. Sheffield is a great city for the beer drinker, but we'll cover that later.
For now, the station.

Sheffield has had some serious redevelopment money thrown at it of late, and some of it has been spent on the approach to the station. A nice vista of stone, metal and water welcome you into the city, with fountains aplenty providing the soundtrack. The station building is a grand Victorian structure, and the last of five built in the city, formerly being called Sheffield Midland. It's now the only one. Last in, last out.

Inside the mighty glass ceiling gives the station a light and airy atmosphere. The concourse is well laid out with a mighty departures board. The BBC set up a snooker table here for the World Snooker Championships a few years ago.

On a Sunday, the sidings between platforms are stacked up with units not required for the reduced service. Look at all those weeds.

At the southern end of the station you can see the small depot, used for light maintenance of DMUs. The McDonalds is on the other side of the boundary fence.

As you might have seen in the news before, Sheffield is an area prone to flooding. This big log on one of the platforms is testament to the rain this country can deliver.

Enough trainery, lets get out of here and find a pub. 

As it happens, we don't have to go far. The Sheffield Tap opened on Platform 1B in 2009 having started life as a first class buffet way back in 1904, but spending the 35 years up to reopening as a store room. Access is via Platform 1B or Sheaf Square.

At the Sheaf Square entrance is a plaque presented to the Sheffield Tap by the National Railway Heritage Awards in recognition of the excellent restoration job. 

As you walk through the entrance, you start to see why the pub picked up this award. The first few steps see smartly panelled walls adorned with railwayana, including this rather smart Great Western Railway locomotive nameplate. Thornbridge Hall is a local manor house and now home to the Thornbridge Brewery, famous for their rather nice Jaipur among others.

It's when you come into the bar that the majesty of place really hits you. Tiled walls, high ceilings and an ornate rear bar really give the place a feel of a time when first class rail travel was the place to be seen. There's 12 hand pumps on that bar (including regular Thornbridge), and plenty of keg too. The fridges of bottles need to be seen to be believed.
I ordered a pint of Mojo Crystal Pale by the Tapped Brewing Co. and sat down. It was at this point my good friend Ross said to me "you know they brew that here?". I very much did not know that, and Ross showed me to the room adjoining the bar.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...

Now that is a lounge area. And what's that to the left?

Oh it's just a 4 Brewers Barrel brew plant turning out 16 x 9 gallon casks of beer per run. You'll excuse the ghost train, it's hard to photograph something that's pretty much entirely reflective. It does highlight the Tap's prime railway location though.
The beer brewed here finds it's way around Yorkshire and as far as the Euston Tap on Euston Station. For more on this check out the Tapped Brew Co. website at the bottom of this post.

A trip to Sheffield is essential for any beer fan. The Kelham Island Brewery is a renowned name in the beer world. Their pubs, The Fat Cat and the Kelham Island Tavern must be two of finest traditional British pubs going, receiving numerous awards from CAMRA and other organisations. The Kelham Island Tavern is the only pub to receive CAMRA's National Pub of the Year two years running, winning in 2008 and 2009.

Enough gushing from me, get to Sheffield and see for yourself. You won't regret it. Just be careful not to kick the table and spill beer everywhere, eh Mrs BB?


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