Reluctant Scooping: Sheffield

Here's my first Reluctant Scooping report for 2011. Details are going to be brief, it's not going to be encyclopaedic with regards to prices, ABVs, opening hours etc. I'll include links to pubs, bars and brewery websites if you want to follow up on that sort of thing.

The basic plan is: find four pubs that offer the chance for me to scoop new beers/breweries as well as offer up some of my old favourites. Then see if I reluctantly choose the new beer over the old favourite. Maximum of one pint in each pub.

And we start in Sheffield. Why? It's the Holy City of ticks, it's the Valley of Beer. If you can't find good beer to scoop here, you won't find it anywhere.

Sheffield Tap

Cask beers on offer: 6
Potential scoops: 0
Keg beers on offer: 8
Potential scoops: 2
Actual scoops: 1 (Matuška Svatomartinské Polotmavé, half)
Favourites drank: 1 (Brewdog Punk IPA, half)

The cask beers were a quintet of Thornbridge and Fyne Ales Highlander, all of which I'd had before. The Matuška beer was a good scoop, a Vienna-ish, biscuity-grassy affair. The other was some kind of weiss but I couldn't not have keg Punk. Before noon.


Cask beers on offer: 11
Potential scoops: 7
Actual scoops: 1 (Summer Wine, Heretic Black IPA, two halves)

Plenty of new beers on offer here. I realised that I'd never had a beer from Summer Wine, despite seeing them around Sheffield before. So their Black IPA, Heretic, was an obvious scoop. After an always-entertaining chat with Brew Company's Pete Roberts and enjoying one of the Quin's humongous roast beef dinners, I forced myself to have another Heretic. It was too good to ignore now I had the taste for it and it's the perfect example of how a scooped beer can become a must-try-again beer.

Kelham Island Tavern

Cask beers on offer: 13
Potential scoops: 5
Actual scoops: 0
Old favourites: 1 (Pictish Brewers Gold, pint)

No new beer really tickled my fancy here today. Thankfully, one of their regular beers is a favorite of mine; the only problem with Pictish Brewers Gold is that it's so sessionable I felt like stopping for several more. But not today...

Gardener's Rest

Cask beers on offer: 8
Potential scoops: 4
Actual scoops: 2 (Dancing Duck, 22 and Burscough, Ringtail, half each)

A pub with a reputation for new brewery scoops and today was no exception. Half the beers were regulars from Sheffield Brewery that I'd already had; of the four guests, two were from breweries new to me so I plumped for those. The Dancing Duck 22 was OK, another one of those well-made malt-led best bitters that thrive around the North Midlands / south Yorkshire. More interesting was Ringtail from Burscough, I'd love to know what hops were used as there was really delicate fruity edge to it.

Hillsborough Hotel

Cask beers on offer: 7
Potential scoops: 2
Actual scoops: 0
Old favourites: 1 (Crown, Stannignton Stout, half)

Yes, I know I said the rules were four pints in four pubs. But I was on the way to catch the tram and it would have been rude to walk past... I was after the latest in their 'jazz musicians' series of specials, as brewer Stuart Ross had told me about the Amarillo-laden 'Stephane Grapelli'. But that cask had gone and I hadn't got time to see if it was being replaced. A quick half of Stannington Stout is always a pleasure, though - it's one of the best dark beers brewed in Sheffield.


Scoops: 4
Favourites: 3
Verdict: Not Too Reluctant Scooping.
Beer of the day: Burscough Ringtail. It's always good to find a brewery that's new to me and really enjoy their beer.

Next month: Leicester

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