A pub I had heard great things about is the Shakespeare in Sheffield, I have only managed a quick visit previously so the chance to revisit, and catch a beer festival at the same time was too good an opportunity to miss. It is an old pub, recently reopened, on Gibralter St, not far from the famous 'Valley of Beer' and a stone's throw from the Kelham Island quarter, and if yesterday is anything to go by, is a worthy addition to the city's pubs. A many roomed pub with the main bar just inside the front door, the decor is somewhat basic, but putting that aside, the beer range is excellent.
The festival was held on two floors of the pub, downstairs the main bar promised about 10 'Locale' beers with beers from Bradfield, Clarks and Steel City to name but three, all handpulled. They were complemented by another 20 or so, on stillage from breweries near and far, and around a dozen ciders.
A quick half of Clarks '1A08 is 0509 Plymouth to Paddington', a strange name for a beer but quite acceptable, while I set about scanning the beer list. What I had hoped to be a decent festival suddenly became an excellent list when I realised how many breweries were new to me. The only problem was if I could manage them all before time defeated me. (and if I could manage to carry them down a steep flight of stairs without spilling them !).
First up was Rough Draft from Leeming, their 'Leeming Gold' was malty, with a bitter finish, and Treboom from outside York, whose 'Kettle Drum' was again mid brown, with a taste of a traditional English bitter. Pennine 'Amber Necker (sic)' followed, but at 3.5% was a bit thin and tasteless for me. Jo c's 'Bitter Old Bustard' was too malty for my taste, and Landlord's Friend ' Stupid Cupid, was another mid brown beer and sweet. That was all my new breweries sorted but none seemed to hit the spot. Better things came later from Liverpool Craft ' Tame Mahuta' which was certainly bitter, and Ouseburn Valley 'Elderflower Gold' which was a refreshing beer but with no discernible taste of elderflower. Time was catching up and I had to choose a final beer, Harwich Town ' Bathside Battery Bitter' was another mid brown beer, and tasted again of English hops.
So there it was. A selection of beers and breweries new to me, all of which were acceptable, but few with the wow factor that would have me going back for more. I ignored the range of black or darker beers as well, in the hope I would catch them later on bars elsewhere. May be I just made the wrong choices, after all, other beers on the list that I had had previously were probably more to my taste, but one can not drink everything in a short space of time. Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, no admission fee, beer costing between £2.40 and £3.20 a pint depending on strength, and butties at a bargain 60p, it did not break the bank. And hearing that more festivals are planned throughout the year, it looks like a place I will be revisiting in the not too distant future.