Pubs To Love: Sheffield Tap

When poet Philip Larkin passed through Sheffield station, he walked to the platform end and noted how the 'joined and parting lines reflect a strong unhindered moon'.  The end of platform 1b now has greater delights, notwithstanding the Northern Rail service to Adwick. A small bar with tall ceilings, English casks and international bottles, a sense of transience as well as destination. And you may even get to meet Terry Greenwood.

Drinks importer Pivovar and Derbyshire brewery Thornbridge have made the most of this once-abandoned,  Grade 2 listed, first class refreshment room.  The original mahogany bar running almost the length of the room has been lovingly restored and stands resplendent before plate glass mirrors. Cream walls segue to those high green ceilings via a band of ornate tiles. Plump seats, stools and benches wrap around the room and through to a vestibule offering more modern touches; huge painted pumpclips and the nameplate from the brewery's namesake locomotive.

Just as impressive as the architecture is the comprehensive beer range. Four handpulls feature regular Thornbridge beers with another four given over to Thornbridge specials or showcasing a brewery such as Dark Star, Marble or Brewdog. Four taps serve up a range of Bernard beers; eight more offer delights such as Aspalls cider, Duvel Green and a guest beer from Meantime in London. And then there's those fridges, groaning under the weight of 200+ bottles from the finer beery parts of the world.

Despite the Edwardian splendour, the Tap's atmosphere isn't merely painted on the walls. Early doors it can be eerily quiet, perhaps just the chink of glasses as the staff clean, an occasional paper-rustle from a passing toper. I rather like that; a calm pint in quiet surroundings before the storm. Because even if the rest of Sheffield's pubs are quiet (unlikely, I know), returning to the Tap late in the afternoon or evening often tips you into orchestrated mayhem. Sometimes there's barely room to manoeuver to the bar, with even elbow space at a premium. It's the price the Tap pays for attracting topers here as a beer destination in its own right. And then there's the maelstrom of faces changing trains - suits with briefcases, tans with suitcases, on their first or last pints as they pass through the city.

Which is how you get to meet Terry Greenwood. He's the bloke next to you at the bar, wondering which beer to order next as you're both hemmed in by the throng. You'll recommend a beer to him; he'll tell you about those he'd enjoyed today.You'll share a couple of drinks and then go your separate ways. 

OK - you probably won't actually meet Terry Greenwood. He happened to be the random bloke I met one afternoon. But for being the kind of place where passing strangers can enjoy beers they love - and those they have yet learned to love - the Sheffield Tap is most definitely one of my Pubs To Love. Even if they've yet to make room in those fridges for some pork pies...

Their website can be found here. They're also to be found on Facebook and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. I've also recently discovered the delights of the Sheffield Tap. So much so I decided to compose a little poem about my experience. It's not very good (I only spent a couple of hours on it) but I hope you enjoy it (I'll leave you to figure out how much is true).

    The Pub On Sheffield Station (by Carl Purkins)

    On Platform One there’s an exceptional pub
    The subject of this improvisation -
    Selling world beers and good cheap grub
    It’s the pub on Sheffield Station

    I discovered it with my boss from work
    I’m afraid we gave in to temptation
    When waiting for a train it seemed a bit of a perk
    To visit the pub on Sheffield Station

    As time ticked on the beer was poured
    And the glasses were in constant rotation
    It was all strong stuff that stopped us being bored
    Waiting at the pub on Sheffield Station

    Then the train it came, we were on our way
    And before long I felt a curious sensation
    For all that beer there was a price to pay
    Thanks to the pub on Sheffield Station

    I needed to pee but the loo was locked
    And holding it in became a frustration
    My route to toilet relief was blocked
    I should’ve gone at the pub on Sheffield Station

    The train wound down through country and town
    And my body grew wet with perspiration
    My bladder was so full I thought I would drown
    Due to the pub on Sheffield Station

    Then the guard announced the train was late
    And it felt like sheer castration
    I crossed my legs as I was forced to wait
    Curse the pub on Sheffield Station!

    London at last! I dashed to the gent
    A feeling of such elation!
    I let rip, a feeling heaven sent
    Relief from the pub on Sheffield Station!

    Then I woke up and felt the damp bed
    And my wife she sought an explanation
    “Don’t blame me!” I simply said
    ‘Twas the pub on Sheffield Station!