Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Coach & Horses, Dronfield: `A Proper Pub`!?

I cannot even pretend that I am a subscriber to Esquire, nor to any other `quality` Gentleman`s magazine, but a recent article therein caught my attention via the world wide web. The Dronfield boozer made the honour roll in Esquire`s `Ten of the Best Proper Pubs` which is quite a call and worthy of investigation.

The Coach is a neat little drinking spot on the A61 into Dronfield just over the border from Sheffield and it was Thornbridge`s first pub, I believe. Now one of many similar outlets, it is notable for being the only one under the wings of the Bakewell brewers and adjacent to the World`s Oldest Football Club. For these two geeks, it was the place that we fell in love with real ale and developed a thirst for Jaipur, although that influential IPA has evolved (dissolved?) somewhat since then.

 5 or 6 years ago, this was my personal favourite `Sheffield` pub and I still pop in regularly before, during and after watching Sheffield FC (aka Club) play; the ground is so close that you can nip in for half-time refreshments and not miss a kick, at least if you can sup as quick as me!

Recently, the Coach had a bit of a refurb and has started doing food again. Beer tends to be almost solely Thornbridge although there are occasional guests plus a cider and a decent range of bottles. A year or two ago, the guest ales were of the quality of Fyne and Magic Rock but now your best bet is to hope for a new release from Bakewell plus the Kipling is usually very good too. As with most Thornbridge pubs, the staff are usually very helpful and often quite knowledgeable.

The Coach and Horses is still a great little drinking spot but they must be delighted to have made the honour roll in the self-acclaimed `Smart Man`s Guide to the Best in Style, Food, Gear . . . but you have to wonder how often these experts venture out the Big Smoke!

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Broadfield - Yorkshire Pub of the Year?

Now then, in a time of Pub Co.s strangling the life out of local boozers, Sheffield is fortunate enough to have several that have recently reopened looking fresh and being successful. The `Broady` was made-over, completely, less than 2 years ago and has not looked back. Part of The Forum group, it has been nominated as the county`s best pub by the public / Welcome to Yorkshire tourist board.

When I visited this week (for the first time in a while) I was pleased with the range of ales on offer. I plumped for an Abbeydale Deception to start with whilst I pondered my way forward. Also I knew it would be a good test to see how well the ale was kept, and it was ok. I then opted for their thirds tasting tray, seeing as it was not too busy to trouble the lone barman. My trio was Black Iris Black Mountain IPA (5.9%), True North`s First Red (4.8%) and On The Edge`s Peat Stout. Not sure of the ABV of the latter but it was my pick with a much fuller taste than the others. On The Edge are a small - mini - microbrewery that launched last year (we went to the opening do at Sharrow School)and are local to the pub, based in Nether Edge, I believe. A really good pint, or third in this case!

There was still a selection to go at but I had to finish with Summer Wine`s Barista Espresso Stout (4.8%) which was on keg; a strong coffee for the road. Yum!

In summary, The Broadfield does it all. It welcomes an eclectic mix of folk (including those that have small creatures with them), the pub is really nicely set out inside (my favourite is the light fitting in the shape of an old Sheffield rail map) and the food is incredibly popular (do book ahead!). It is a real local success and I hope it does well in the voting. Give it a try!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Mild May!


So `Mild May` has been and gone. CAMRA launched this initiative to promote a beer-type that does not always get the recognition it deserves particularly amidst the current popularity of mega-hoppy ales, IPAs and the like. Some savvy pubs have committed to having one mild on the bar throughout May which is refreshing to see but do the beers match up?

Personally, mild was the first type of beer that I drank as a teenager (pre-University, when I converted to bitter) so maybe I was born to be mild! Of the selection that I sampled this month, Raw`s Majic was the best. It contains 7 different malts and so tasted more complex and interesting than what can be served up as mild. There is some coffee bitterness in there and, thankfully for this beer geek, it was not too sweet. Add to that, plenty of taste but at only 3.2% ABV which is quite an achievement from the Staveley brew team . To make things even better, I sampled this ale during a first visit to the The `holy` Grove in Huddersfield and it is a tremendous destination pub that I whole-heartedly recommend. I hope to revisit it again soon!

Special mention though to Great Heck`s Voodoo Mild that I enjoyed at The Harlequin and which I would select as runner-up.