Sheffield Cathedral                                                                    The Sheffield Tap                                                    Rutland Arms       

Sheffield is one of the cities in the country in which it is like drinking at a beer festival every day. The range of beers available across the city on any one day is impressive. If you are thinking of staying overnight, over a weekend, or longer, you should have more chance of visiting a large number of the places listed below. However, I would recommend for longer visits you get a decent map, copies of relevant pages from the Good Beer Guide, and/or chat to someone who knows the local bars, as there are far more decent places to visit in Sheffield than just those mentioned here. Enjoy.

If arriving at Sheffield by train, you come to the first hostelry worth visiting almost immediately when alighting your train, indeed, on platform 1 of Sheffield railway station you come to the Sheffield Tap, a fairly new freehouse, with a number of regular ales from Thornbridge Brewery (usually at least 4) plus another 4-6 guest beers mostly from other micro breweries.  However, on match day you are very unlikely to gain access from the platform, but will have to go outside the station, turn right and come back into the Sheffield Tap from the road entrance.  There are many beers on keg and in bottle, many continental lagers, for example, and, at first count when this bar opened in December 2009, 118 different Belgian beers on draft or in bottle.  Now there are about 220 botled beers in total and over 20 beers on the bar, including, more recently, a stronger Thornbridge beer on keg, Kipling, when I was there recently, but has been Jaipur. 

The bar was a buffet bar in years gone by that had been kept as a store room for many years which, luckily for us, has meant the superb interior, including a fine original bar and floor to (high) ceiling tiling on all walls, has been finely preserved and restored for our delight. On leaving the Sheffield Tap, your choice may well be dictated by which venue you are attending.  Please note that, Friday and Saturday evenings there are doorpersons on duty, also, for matchdays.  So, do not attempt to wear football supporting garb ostentatiously as you will not be allowed in.  I remember looking outside of the entrance from the road and seeing 4 Blades fans (including 2 women) strolling up gayfully to the door and being turned away, only to turn up again 5 minutes later with the order of their clothing turned inside out! 

If attending Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United (the Blades), you may wish to walk via the Red Lion, which you reach by walking up in-between the surprisingly good water features immediately at the front of the station, cross over the main road at the pedestrian lights, then, almost immediately, cross another smaller road, ignore the pub in front of you, but turn left on the other side of this street and only 40 or 50 yards on the right is what was once the Music Museum (opposite the Showroom), but is now the Student Union for Sheffield Hallam University, and looks like 3 upside down vacuum cleaners or kettles. Ignore this, but immediately after passing this building on your right, you turn uphill on Charles Street for about 150 yards, and on the right you come to the Red Lion, a decent pub with Sky Sports that serves real ales.

                              Old Queens Head                                             The Bath Hotel                                         The University Arms  
If you arrive in Sheffield at the bus/coach Interchange, before heading for the Red Lion, try a drink (also sells food) at the Old Queen's Head, an old Thwaites house adjacent to the Interchange, well worth a visit and also with Sky Sports. To get to the Red Lion from here, go left and up past the Interchange to the top of the hill, turn left, cross the road, and carry on walking for a few minutes and you reach the Student Union previously mentioned.

On leaving the Red Lion, go back down the hill and turn right, follow the road on for about a couple of hundred yards and you reach the Rutland Arms, 86 Brown Street S1 2BS (0114 272 9003) on a bend/junction/corner on your right, which has changed hands a few times over recent years and, happily, has found its feet again under the current management. The pub sells food Monday to Saturday 12-8pm,  there is free wi-fi access, and there is a fine garden to inhabit on warm evenings.  The Rutland sells many ales from local and micro brewers, recently holding the launch of Blue Bee brewery who can be found on twitter (26 July 2011).  On leaving by the front door you look straight ahead and not too far away you see St Mary's Church, now a community centre, which is immediately in front of the Blades' ground at Bramall Lane, so that is the direction to walk in (you have to go through an underpass under the dual carriageway to reach St Mary's). If you want to drink real ale and a peaceful drink, it is not recommended to drink in any of the pubs near the ground, however.

However, if you would prefer to catch a cab to a pub nearer the ground, which is not only welcoming to away supporters, but sells a range of fine ales and beers, you could aim for the Sheaf View public house, Gleadless Road, which is only 10 or 15 minutes walk to the ground. Be warned, though, as this is a very popular establishment it may become crowded after 13.00 hrs. This is a child friendly establishment, with outside and inside areas that allow for children.

If you would prefer to go to Sheffield Centre before or after the match, there is a Weatherspoons, the Benjamin Huntsman, and a Lloyds on the edge of Barkers Pool, by Sheffield's City Hall (not much further beyond the Town Hall) and about 15 minutes up the hill from the station. These both sell the usual Spoons' fare and beers, usually with a few local ales from micro-breweries.

Carrying on past Lloyds, though, and down Division Street (a trendy shopping area), you come to Devonshire Green where, on turning left when reaching the Green, you see opposite you a little downhill, The Devonshire Cat, Wellington Street, a free house with numerous ales and Belgian beers, and a novel approach to its menu, which recommends which beers match the food.

If you do not go down to the Cat, but head straight on and walk through the new buildings opposite, and down a small lane behind the back of the Swim Inn to your right (another Weatherspoons house in Glossop Road), you reach the Bath Hotel, Victoria Street, not a hotel anymore, but an excellent public house, with a preservation award winning interior, that sells a number of good real ales and other beers. Before matches on a Saturday it is usually reasonably easy to get served in this bar, and it is only a 15-20 minutes downhill walk away to Bramall Lane, ask the friendly bar staff the way.

If you wish to go to Hillsborough to see a match at the home of Sheffield Wednesday (the Owls), you could, of course, start with these pubs in town, but there are a number of very well known real ale free houses on or near the tram route to Hillsborough (catching the blue route tram heading for Malin Bridge or yellow route heading for Middlewood, which takes you to Leppings Lane, the nearest tram stop to Wednesday's ground; a Dayrider ticket costs £3.50 and can be used on Stagecoach buses too, though most buses in Sheffield are not run by Stagecoach, but it is still very good value if hopping on and off the tram, or just going to the football as 2 single tickets to and from Leppings Lane would set you back £4 from the station).

I would suggest the first place to stop at is the University Arms (get off the tram at the University stop, follow the route of the tram and cross over the pedestrian crossing to your left, immediately at the end of the platform, turn right on the other side, still following the route, although the tram is underground for a short distance so is out of your sight, up to the roundabout, follow pavement round to the left, and the bar is on your left, on a corner, 50 or 60 yards up). This used to be a social club for academics, but now is open to the public, with another grand manager in charge, selling up to 5 real ales, Belgian beers, etc and also somewhere with a quiet garden, in which you would hardly believe you are in such a busy city. Indeed, this is still somewhere from where you could head, on foot, towards Brammall Lane, should you wish to sneak another drink in before heading there, either before or after visiting The Bath Hotel.  

                            The Fat Cat                                                         The Wellington                                               The Kelham Island Tavern   

From here, there are a number of freehouses to visit around the Shalesmoor/Kelham Island area, including the CAMRA National Pub of the Year for the last 2 years! First, you get off the tram 2 stops down from the University at the Shalesmoor tram stop. I would suggest you cross the road to reach the Kelham Island pubs first. Get off towards the front of the tram, cross over the tram line to your right, then cross over the dual carriageway at the pedestrian crossing, go down to Green Lane, walk straight down Green Lane for about 5 minutes and the road bends to the left at a 'crossroads', dead opposite is Russell Street, with the Kelham Island Tavern about 20 yards down on the left, if you go round to the left, the road becomes Alma Street, and the Fat Cat is on the left about 30 yards on your left.

The Fat Cat, with many guest beers and also supplied by it's own brewery, Kelham Island Brewery, is the original freehouse in the area, opened at the beginning of the 1980s in response to the growth of keg beer amongst the national breweries and pub companies, and the catalyst to what would become the burgeoning freehouse and real ale area in Sheffield S3 and S6. The Cat has an upstairs room where you can watch terrestrial television and which is used for functions and parties, whereas, downstairs there is a small bar which includes many real ales, ciders and quality continental beers. There is also a nicely presented garden with heating in the winter and the brewery's visitors' centre. Good history here, good beer, good food, a must visit.

Talking about a 'must visit', the Kelham Island Tavern is the reigning CAMRA National Pub of the Year, and, as you would expect, has great ales (13 handpumps), quality continental beers, ciders and perry, food, a warm atmosphere, music and other events, and welcoming bar staff that make it a convivial place to visit. This is just round the corner from the Fat Cat and has evolved from a pub long-closed down and in disrepair, via a tasteful refurbishment and some rebuilding, into a well visited pub, often very busy, with an award-winning garden.

Coming back towards Shalesmoor, walk to the tram stop and dead opposite you as you cross the dual carriageway is the Wellington (formerly called the Cask and Cutler, although originally called the Wellington!). Another real ale bar selling up to 8 cask conditioned ales. This is another pub with its own brewery, Little Ale Cart, which specialises in brewing very pale, hoppy and fruity/dry bitters.


                New Barrack Tavern                                   The Hillsborough Hotel                        Hillsborough Hotel's Conservatory                     Carlton            

To move on towards Hillsborough from Shalesmoor, you either walk to the Hillsborough Hotel pub you were leaving or map), another pub with a good range of real ales, recently taken over by old friends of mine, Brigitte and Tom Delaney. The easier route is to catch the tram and get off 2 stops along (you go by the Hillsborough Hotel, on the right hand side as you pass, so you need to walk back 100 yards or so). This pub, which also has accommodation, serves food as well as real ales; there used to be ale brewed on the premises, but this has now been put on hold, although Tom assures me they are considering brewing asap. 

The nearest pub to the Sheffield Wednesday ground that sells good ales and reasonable food that I can recommend to away fans is still a 15 minutes walk away from the away end near Leppings Lane (hence my recommending places to visit that are on the tram line). This, though, has been the site of many celebrations, but also some miserable after match sessions and is the New Barrack Tavern, 601 Penistone Road. This has been a freehouse for a long time now, more recently taken over by Tynemill/Castle Rock Brewery of Nottingham. Good beer, decent food and Tynemill's 1 over the 8 deal.

If visiting the Don Valley Stadium, I would recommend you eat and drink in the centre of Sheffield, as the area in which the stadium is found is not the greatest place to take your family (there are a number of establishments related to the sex industry around here), and the stadium is easily reached by bus or the tram. However, there is one pub in Attercliffe Road I recommend to the adventurous as it is a right friendly establishment, the Carlton (photograph courtesy of Will, many thanks), 563 Attercliffe Road, S9 3RA (0114 244 3287), about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the stadium.

I always get a warm welcome from the staff, and the pub serves up to six real ales, always reasonably priced and in good condition. I have seen signs outside advertising it as an 'away fans' pub, however, it is a very friendly place and locals are ever-present who will make you feel more than welcome too. I have always ended up in non-threatening and relaxed cross-bar conversations. So, give it a go if you want to drink near to the stadium, you wont be disappointed.

Subpages (1): Eating in Sheffield