A few months ago, my beer wife Karen sent me a link and asked “Would this be something you’d be interested in?” It seemed to be an event in Sheffield involving beer and dogs and so I said “Absolutely!” and booked a train. I didn’t find out until the day before that what I was actually booked on was a Brewdog Sheffield pub crawl, which explained why it started at 10am.
I still don’t really understand what happened and why, but I think the gist is that BD had an idea to do some ticketed, organised pub walks terminating at a Brewdog bar. but then didn’t actually do it, and so a staff member took it upon himself to organise the event. It was advertised chiefly on the Equity For Punks forum, and so I found myself sitting around a table in the Sheffield Tap at 10.20am being outed as NOT A SHAREHOLDER. An audible gasp went up. I don’t see much point in being a shareholder when I glean many of the benefits from Karen anyway without spending a single pound. It’s how I stay moderately wealthy by Runcorn standards. (I own over 3 pairs of shoes).
After the Sheffield tap where we were treated to a pint by tour leader Matt, (I had a JAM by First Chop because it was under 5% and as I mentioned it was breakfast time), we walked to Kommune, which is your typical HWP or Hipster Warehouse Project. The following are signs you may have entered one :
- You try to pay with cash for something and you get a look as if you’ve tried to barter a live chicken
- Chips cost five pounds
- Periodically a loud person starts shouting that the puppet show/comedy improv/ritual killing will start in five minutes
- Every third person is either a dog, a child, or has a beard
There was an actual bar at Kommune but everyone seemed to be wandering over to a corner filled with fridges and then waving their Monzo card over an iZettle, so that’s what I did. Drinking a Magic Rock Salty Kiss made me feel like someone who had just ordered toast at a Michelin starred restaurant but it was what I felt like, and as I may have previously mentioned, it was still breakfast time. I ate some fried eggs on toast (free range eggs fried in olive oil on olive oil soaked sour bread with parsley) to try and get a lining on.
Next we walked for approximately two days along the canal to Dorothy Pax which is situated in a railway arch, and has a jumble sale on the walls. It was also home to the world’s most sarcastic barkeep, who wandered over and asked if anyone had dropped a train ticket on the floor. “Where’s it from?” I asked. “The floor,” she answered dryly. (It was mine, of course). I had a pint of Schoefferhofer which was 3% and had a slice of grapefruit in it, as it was STILL breakfast time. A conversation arose regarding Brewdog’s passport programme which compels you to get a stamp in as many Brewdog bars as you can in order to win fabulous prizes which can make your house look like it is also a Brewdog bar. When you have visited FORTY bars you get a tshirt. I was about to point out that if you complete the Runcorn Victorian Pub Crawl you get a certificate on real certificate paper with only minimal spelling mistakes, but I held my tongue. Karen has just turned 40 and so I could see the appeal of achieving This Is 40 before next June. It has a certain poetry to it.
I was glad I availed myself of the facilities in the Dorothy Pax because we then had another 17 mile walk through various industrial settings to Saint Mars of the Desert. I have to say, it was worth it.
I have a soft spot for industrial estate tap rooms which are quite hard to get to. We have our own, Chapter Brewing, in Runcorn (or Sutton Weaver if you want to look posh) . Martha and Dann had a brewery in Boston, then they tried to move to Saint Mars of the Desert in France, and they ended up in Sheffield but keeping the name. Dann gave us a tour of the brewery end including their gas-fired kettle and koelschip (or coolship, a big flat vessel which aids in fermentation and is usually a lambic thing. The beers are really something. I think Jack D’or might be the best saison I have ever had and according to Untappd I’ve had 20. (I have definitely had more than 20 just this year so that is a conservative estimate). I was also so taken with the logo that I bought a tshirt, I do love a good logo.
We stayed at Saint Mars much too long but the schedule was only loosely being adhered to – we headed next to the Fat Cat in Kelham Island where there were a thousand people including a stag do and a hen night. The sun was out by now and it was too pleasant standing in the beer garden drinking Apricot Whip by Tiny Rebel not to have a second half, and then a second half of Tollgate’s Choc Cherry porter. It was now 5pm and at this point I added Karen to my Netflix account, so I must have been on the way to inebriation. (My favourite of the Kelham pubs is the Kelham Island Tavern and we visited the following morning for a hair of a very hairy dog. A wolfhound if you will.)
The Shakespeare was next on the agenda and was so busy in the bar that I thought it only kind to leave Karen there to deal with that whilst I…didn’t. The last time I was at the Shakespeare I had a langoustine sour – and they didn’t disappoint on the weird front, this time I had a Wild Garlic sour by Lost Industry, which…tastes of garlic. It should be awful, but it’s not. The trick is not to smell it while you’re drinking – I could still taste it the following day, although I couldn’t – if that makes sense. The taste memory abided.
After the Shakespeare’s Italian restaurant in a glass we hopped over the road to Bar Stewards, a bottle shop/tap room. It was incredibly crowded and to be honest I don’t remember a great deal about it aside from the superb Sour Sundae, also by Lost Industry. There were a number of lovely beers in the fridges to be taken away but I thought this was probably a recipe for disaster seeing as we had a bit of a walk to the Devonshire Cat and I would 100% try to open it and drink it on the way.
I had never been to the Devonshire Cat and assumed it was some rustic old man’s pub. It was not. It was a giant cavernous place with very posh furniture which was difficult to climb up on. Even for a cat. I didn’t log what I drank here so it can’t have been that momentous, and anyway we were off to the Mothership – Brewdog Sheffield.
Very kindly, Sheffield had organised pizzas for us, albeit those very thin pizzas which are like eating ham and pineapple off a copy of Grazia. I had a sour, the name of which I can’t remember, but it was SO sour that I watered it, which I never do, but it did make it at least drinkable. I also met a bloke at the bar who looked like Jesse Lingard and luckily took it as the compliment it was intended as. After 11 hours of drinking, and ten pints, it was time for Karen and I to repair to our Christian dosshouse masquerading as a hotel.
Let me take this opportunity to say that all of the nine other crawlers were thoroughly stand up people and although I am not a Brewdog EFP, I am a huge FOYA or, fan of you all.