Top 10 Craft Beer Pubs in Sheffield One of Britain’s great beer cities is celebrating the fifth annual Sheffield Beer Week – but in these pubs there’s an exhaustive range of craft brews on tap year round
The Beer Engine
This studenty pub has the conflicting, mismatched interior decor of a venue that has seen many incarnations down the years. But packed these days, even in midweek, the Beer Engine has clearly found its groove, thanks to its emphasis on good beer and its surprisingly accomplished food. The 17 taps cover all beer bases from the house bitter, Coniston Brewing Company’s iconic Bluebird, to piña colada sours and Belgian farmhouse double IPAs. Candles and good-lighting make the Engine a cosy place to linger and, out back, like many Sheffield pubs (Fat Cat, Rutland, Kelham Tavern) it has a neat, half-covered outdoor drinking and smoking area.
The Sheffield Tap
Reached via platform 1B of Sheffield station, the Tap has been instrumental in improving the quality of railway station pubs, not just in this city but nationally. Opened in 2009, it has since spawned several sister venues (most notably the Euston Tap in London) and, more generally, inspired an array of craft beer bars in and around travel hubs. Few are as handsome as this Grade II-listed space. Its rooms are an Edwardian feast of glazed tiling, ornamental plasterwork and polished wood. Some 23 cask and keg taps and a list of 200 bottles run the gamut of good beer, from brewers Atom to Wild Weather. In particular, expect to find plenty of Thornbridge and the pub’s own Tapped Brew Co beers, some brewed on-site. You will find a gleaming copper brew kit in the lounge.
The Fat Cat
Kelham Island’s industrial past is fading fast as it emerges as one of the city’s hippest food and drink destinations. But a handful of historic pubs bridge those two eras. Craft fans will gravitate to more hop-forward destinations, but visiting the Fat Cat for a pint of immaculately-conditioned, dry, citrusy Pale Rider (brewed by Fat Cat’s owner, Kelham Island Brewery), is a rite of passage for visiting beer fans.
If the “ferociously independent” Fat Cat (beer memorabilia, antique fire places, warmth and chat – not music and fruit machines), has the edge in terms of architectural character, its near-neighbour, the Kelham Island Tavern, distinguishes itself by its greater willingness to embrace beer’s future. It may have a rather 1970s lounge-bar interior, but among the Tavern’s more traditional cask beers you will find, for instance, beers from Welsh alchemist Heavy Industry and even a dedicated craft keg tap that was, recently, pouring a Buxton Brewery/Magic Rock collaboration. We can only guess what Camra members, who voted the Tavern their national pub of the year in 2008 and 2009, will think of that innovation.
The Bar Stewards
It opened more than a year ago but there is still a pop-up feel to this micropub and bottle shop. With its chipboard back-bar and huge wooden delivery doors, it is a bit like drinking in a brew-tap or workshop, albeit one covered in an ever-expanding collage of colourful beer labels. Its 14 keg/cask taps pour pure quality, from Magic Rock’s Dancing Bear (the house lager) to, a recent find, Suffolk brewery Burnt Mill’s exceptional, murky Citra Fog IPA. The bar’s friendly staff are beer lovers, ever-ready with advice and tasters. One other notable feature is that, in contrast to many specialist craft beer bars, Bar Stewards’ cask ales are keenly priced (this is very Sheffield; every good pub has a circa-£3 starter pint). Check the boards for relative bargains from Sheffield breweries such as Lost Industry and Abbeydale.
The Rutland Arms
Located in Sheffield’s Cultural Industries Quarter, this vintage architectural gem is layered with history yet decorated with quirky bric-a-brac – endless pump clips, protest placards, mannequins etc – and, outside, the work of Steel City street artist, Phlegm. Across its 20 lines all beer life is represented: from Blue Bee’s mainline pale ale to craft exotica such as Siren’s chocolate cake stout and Northern Monk’s big double IPAs. There are often new names on the bar (Liverpool’s Gibberish, for instance), while the Rutland’s tap-takeover events have included nights with such luminaries as Omnipollo. In summer, creatives from the surrounding studios spill out into the pub’s surprisingly green and leafy urban beer garden.
“Tasteless fizz-free zone” reads a sign at the entrance to this rather spartan, multi-roomed beer-hive. Its walls covered in promotional brewery memorabilia, Shakey’s is simultaneously committed to both affordable entry-level drinking (Stancill’s Barnsley Bitter and Abbeydale’s Deception are each £2.70 a pint) and the enthusiastic exploration of craft beer’s esoteric and expensive outer-reaches. You will find trendsetters such as Cloudwater and Verdant on the bar, and all the latest styles (pastry stouts, milkshake IPAs, oak-aged sours). Look-out for the Shakespeare’s spring and autumn experimental cask beer festivals, and its Stupidly Delicious events, which showcase aged imperial stouts and daisy-fresh double IPAs.
The Beer House
About a mile outside the city centre on Ecclesall Road – in Sharrow Vale’s cluster of indie shops and restaurants – this two-roomed micropub is worth hunting out. Plainly decorated in the stripped-back, Victorian beer house style, a log burner keeps the back room toasty in winter, while, on a warm summer evening, there are natty communal tables on the kerb outside. You may find the likes of Wild Beer and Thornbridge pouring on the keg taps, but the Beer House’s cask pumps are where it really shines. The clips are a roll-call of northern stars – Marble, Brewsmith, Vocation, Anarchy etc.
If you prefer such diminutive drinking spots beyond the city centre, you should also seek out Walkley Beer Co, a bottle shop where you can drink in (Thursday to Sunday), and Broomhill’s Itchy Pig micropub, up from the university.
The Bath Hotel
A back-street local in the heart of the city (top end of Devonshire Street, then dog-leg down Convent Walk), this handsome 1930s pub is now under the stewardship of Derbyshire brewery, Thornbridge. Naturally, its latest innovations dominate the pumps, from the opinion-splitting ice-cream porter, Strawberry Lucaria, to the terrific Green Mountain New England IPA, a hazy “juice bomb” that delivers as promised. Space is made across 12 keg and cask lines for a few guests, from breweries as far flung as Bristol Beer Factory and Rossendale’s Northern Whisper. Nurse a pint or two as you take in the Bath’s Grade II-listed interior: a modest, fuss-free combination of period wood-panel banquettes, glazed tilework and leaded windows.
Despite its new-build setting, the Devonshire Cat is now a veteran of the Sheffield scene. This large, open-plan bar was pushing hoppy, modern brews before “craft beer” existed. In 2013, it was taken over by Sheffield’s Abbeydale Brewery, which has ditched its old Wetherspoons-esque look for something you could describe as post-Brewdog. A central bar is decorated with striking geometric tiles there is splashy beer art on the walls and a lot of hard edges, flat surfaces and large windows. The beer range is, as ever, A1. Core Abbeydale beers are supplemented by cutting-edge guests from mainly northern brewers (Track, Marble, Red Willow), and a vast array of cans and bottles. Note: on 6 and 7 April, Abbeydale is throwing its second Piss Up In The Brewery, a ticketed brewery beer festival (£8.10/£9.10).
A short walk from town up London Road, not far from Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane football ground, the new-ish Jabbarwocky (sic) craft beer and cocktail bar has taken a winningly low-fi, DIY approach to interior design. Who needs slick features when you’ve got fairy lights, several old sofas and flowers stuck, not in vases, but old Blackjack beer bottles? Seven keg lines and one cask pack in both the standards (Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie), and craft belters from, for instance, Thornbridge, Weird Beard and Buxton Brewery. Previously, you could have headed from Jabbarwocky to Hop Hideout, the lauded bottle shop and tasting room nearby, but it is about to reopen (22 March) in a new central location at food and drink hub, Kommune. At Hop Hideout, you will find beers from St Mars of the Desert, an exciting new Sheffield brewery owned by two US beer enthusiasts, who have recently opened a taproom at their Attercliffe HQ (open Thursday-Saturday “unless it’s freezing”).…
If You Love Beer, You’ll Love A Trip To These 8 Beer Cities More and more people are interested in beer tourism: drinking their way around the globe to find where the world’s best beer is brewed. From imported classics to craft beers, brewery tours to pub crawls, there is much to see and taste in a beer-lover’s city. Here are the top cities to visit for a cold one:
Like much of Prague’s cultural identity, beer is part of a deep-rooted history in this Czech capital. The first documented brewery was in 1400, housed in the Strahov Monastery founded in 1140. It closed in 1907 and was restored in 2000. In 1405, Prague’s U Tří Růží (The Three Roses) Brewery and Restaurant, known for their Vienna Red Beer, got their license to brew. But it is U Fleků, dating back to 1499, that is believed to be the oldest continuously functioning brewpub in the world, while U Medvídků, founded in 1466, is the city’s most famous tavern celebrated for its beer and cuisine (and for hosting Tchaikovsky in 1888).
Prague has 22 brew pubs, some of which offer as many as 48 varieties on tap like Zlý časy, known for their affordable prices. Don’t miss a visit to the BeerGeek Beer-Shop with 500 kinds of beers, Pivo a Párek (‘The Beer and Sausage’) Beer-Shop (self-explanatory!), and the Prague Beer Museum. There are even beer spas like BBB Prague Beer Spa, Spa Beer Land, and Bernard Praha Beer Spa that offer services like beer bathing in hops, brewer’s yeast and malt for the skin, hop saunas, and unlimited drinks. You’re welcome.
If you’re looking for what to do in Germany, don’t miss some of the larger cities like Munich. You’ll find trendy new neighbourhoods and historic architecture…something for everyone!
Home to the world’s largest beer festival locally known as “die Wiesn,” Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. Over 5.6 million people visit Munich annually to consume over 6 million litres of beer throughout the 16-18 day festival, which takes place in mid-to-late September. Bavarian music, German treats, traditional dress (called Tracht), singing and dancing, and beer tents mark the festival, which first started in 1810.
But you don’t have to travel specifically for the festival; Munich is a place for beer-lovers year-round. There are lots of old-school breweries to experience, like the oldest Munich brewery, Augustiner, founded in 1328. Beergardens, or Biergarten take over the summer, attracting people to sip on fresh beer and enjoy a bite to eat outdoors. Some are affiliated with restaurants where you can place your order, and others are just benches where you can bring your own food and drink and sit down with strangers to enjoy 1L of beer (minimum). Be sure to visit the historic Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall founded in 1589 with a capacity to seat 1,300 guests!
In a place where visiting a cafe means you’ll be sipping on a pint — not a coffee, it’s obvious a strong beer culture is ingrained in Amsterdam living. Brown cafes, to be exact, are named after their cozy interiors. A number of beer bars like Beer Temple, with 30 beers on tap and over 100 bottled; Gollem, with four locations in Amsterdam; and In de Wildeman, housed in a 1960 former distillery, make finding your perfect brew faster than you can say proost (cheers!).
Amsterdam’s reputation as a beer city is built upon brands like Heineken, Amstel and Grolsch — but the city boasts many craft breweries too, like Brouwerij ‘t IJ, arguably the city’s most popular. While you can taste Brouwerij ‘t IJ beers in most pubs in the Dutch capital, the best place to try some is in the brewery itself, fittingly nestled below the city’s largest windmill. You can’t get more Dutch than that.
In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on a Dublin building to start brewing his ale – and the beloved Guinness brand was born. In 1821, the Guinness Original and Guinness Extra Stout you know and love today launched a preliminary version called the “Guinness Superior Porter.”
Any visitor to Ireland will naturally spend much of their stay pub-crawling at one of the 40+ craft breweries and endless pubs in Dublin. Porterhouse Temple Bar was the city’s first craft beer pub opened in 1996. Now there are three in Dublin and brewpubs in Cork, London and NYC – but their Temple Bar location is the spot for partying in Dublin. Get the famous Oyster Stout – made with, you guessed it. Galway Bay Brewing Company is another favourite, with 8 bars throughout the city. Some of our favourite pubs include The Black Sheep, run by Galway Bay Brewery, the gay PantiBar, and O’Donoghues for its traditional Irish music.
It’s no secret Portland is proud of its beer, with more than 70 breweries and year-round festivals to honour its craft beer scene. In the last full weekend of July, the Oregon Brewers Festival comes to town with 80+ craft brews while the Holiday Ale Festival in December attracts 50+ breweries for a 5-day winter beer festival – two of the city’s largest festivals with about 20 different events. In March, sample beer pairings at participating restaurants during Portland Dining Month.
BridgePort Brewing and Widmer Brothers Brewing started Portland’s microbrew movement in 1984 when they opened facilities. Now some of the best known include Breakside Brewery, Hair of the Dog, Gigantic, Cascade, Hopworks, Upright, Laurelwood, and Widmer Brothers. Beer tours, bike-and-beer events, and even dog-friendly breweries with patios and dog bowls are common. Welcome to Portland.
Philadelphia has always been known for its watering holes, making its mark pre-prohibition with over 100 breweries and the title, “Cradle of American Libation.” Though most of its breweries were closed from the 1920s-80s, Philadelphia came back stronger — as more than just one of the best places for beer-lovers in the US, but in the entire world. To top it off, the annual Philly Beer Week welcomes over 50 breweries to celebrate late Spring/early Summer.
The oldest and largest brewery in Philly is the Philadelphia Brewery built in 1885. Other notable breweries include Yards, Victory, Doc Street, and Tired Hands. Do Good Brewing, named after its commitment to philanthropy, offers a limited variety but is celebrated for working with charities and running a communal artist workspace.
Known as the “city that beer built,” Milwaukee is celebrated for its big four: Blatz, Pabst, Schlitz and Miller but also its smaller microbreweries. Enjoy a brewery tour at MillerCoors to discover its 150 year history or visit Lakefront Brewery, Sprecher Brewing Company, Milwaukee Brewing Company, Brenner Brewing Co, and many more. Experience some of the best places to grab a brew: the favourite Milwaukee Ale House, Cafe Hollander for Belgian bier, or Estabrook Beer Garden modeled after the beer gardens in Munich. Don’t miss out on guided tours to delve into the beer culture and visit places like the Forest Home Cemetery with mausoleums of brewing icons and the restored Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion built in 1892.
On your Brussels vacation, you’ll find Belgium’s distinctly flavoured lambic beers that fermented differently and quicker than normal. Brussels’ UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand Place or Grote Market, is in the center of town. It hosts the annual beer festival in September and has many beautiful buildings to get a beer year round, plus some with outdoor seating. A quick walk from the Grote Market is In’t Spinnekopke, a cozy spot with a beer-inspired menu. Other notable stops include Bier Circus with over 200 beers, A La Mort Subite 100+ year old bar (with a name that translates to Sudden Death), the brewery Cantillion, and Delirium, a cellar bar preserving 2000 beers, a world record.…