Sunday, May 19, 2013

Valley of Beer part one

Today sees the start of A Swift One series on the "Valley of Beer".
We've been prompted to take a fresh look at Sheffield's vast delights after Shakespeares dethroned the Kelham island Tavern after nine years as the city's top pub.
The steel city is huge and it was difficult to know where to start. But after spotting the 53 beer bus near Sheffield station there was only one destination: Kelham Island.
I decided to begin the tour where it all started for me real ale wise (2005) in The Fat Cat.
I'm sure everyone has their particular favourite Sheffield pub, the two round the corner should be high up on anyone's list, but The Fat Cat is mine.  
Why do I like it so much? Perhaps it's the beer, the food, the staff or just nostalgia for the place where I discovered real ale.
On Saturday, when I visited, it was on top form. I went for a pale beer from Kelham Island Brewery called Sheffield Snog and a dark beer from Barlow Brewery. But I couldn't get near the Barlow clip because the popular snug bar was heaving.
I did manage to see a Revolutions on the bar and three ciders but couldn't make out the rest.
I adjourned to the spacious front room with my drinks. The Sheffield Snog was - excuse the pun - an easy drinking 'neckable' beer. I got the impression it was a limited run. The pump clip, designed by Kelham's regular artist Pete McKie, was attracting attention in the bar.
The unknown Barlow had a ruby tint to it and went down rather well with my ploughman's lunch.
My visit coincided with the first anniversary of the sad passing of Fat Cat co-founder Dave Wickett, who was a trailblazer for real ale in these parts.
A quick glance at The Fat Cat's website reveals a roll call of his achievements since taking over 'The Alma' with Bruce Bentley back in 1981.
The pub is a fitting legacy to his pioneering work.
I could have easily whiled away Saturday afternoon here but the siren's song of the Tavern and the Shakey was calling to me. All in the name of research!
To be continued...
Staff Copy

2 comments:

Timbo said...

Research !! I have used that excuse before...
Even in these far flung parts Sheffield is still considered the drinking capital of the north..a well deserved accolade, with so many varied pubs..is just a little behind huddersfield though, or so I hear !!

Ale Ambler said...

I will be able to do a comparison test this weekend thanks to the Mally's MMM fest at The Star.
I believe the boffins call it 'participant observer research'. But I prefer what Sherlock Holmes might've called a three-pint problem!!
Staff Copy.