I’ve lived in Sheffield for over twenty five years and I’ve seen many developments, both good and bad, in the local beer drinking scene. The creation of so many new breweries in the city has been a very positive change; with so many of them being excellent they provide Sheffield with a vibrant beer culture. On the other hand, the loss of Ward’s Bitter with the closure of Ward’s Brewery in 1999 was sad, and many good pubs across the city have been either knocked down or converted into anything from supermarkets to flats. Some of the remaining pubs have been ruined through unimaginably bad internal modernisation, but fortunately there are also many that have been given very positive new leases of life. The Sheaf View at Heeley is one of my favourite pubs, and as I remember how it used to be I can’t give enough praise to those who bought it and transformed it to what it is now.
The latest exciting development, to my mind, has been Sheffield’s adoption of the micro-pub concept. A micro-pub is generally a small, simple drinking venue set up in what was a shop or similar outlet, with basic but adequate facilities and food limited to snacks. Sheffield was a little slow on the uptake; micro-pubs had already started popping up in other towns and cities around the country from late 2005. Some years ago I picked up on the micro-pub association and had been planning to check out the format in my home city of Derby where the Little Chester Ale House opened in 2012. For one reason or another I’ve still to make it to the Little Chester, but 2015 saw the opening of the Beer House on Ecclesall Road, Sheffield and I’m completely sold on the idea. It’s probably fortunate that the Beer House has been designed and run so well, although the two micro-pubs that have since opened in the city are both good in their own ways too. I do think the format is just what has been needed for a while. Simple comforts whilst ensuring high quality beer served by informed and friendly staff seems such an obvious recipe for success. I really hope life does continue to be be successful for the micro-pubs in Sheffield and especially the Beer House which as my closest ‘boozer’ could almost have been designed just for me!