The Micropub revolution

Back in 2005 Martyn Hillier opened the Butchers Arms in a former butchers shop in Herne, Kent and came along to the CAMRA AGM the following year as a guest speaker to talk about the concept. Now 12 years later there are about 300 micropubs across the UK that are members of the Micropub Association and many more that have developed beyond the original template set by the Butchers Arms. Some are in the style of traditional pubs and some are more modern bars, however what they all have in common is they are small, friendly shop size venues with a focus on offering a small but high quality range of drinks and snacks. In Sheffield we have a number now and can fall into one of three categories – traditional micropub, small modern bar and beer shop with tasting counter. The original one in the traditional category is the Beer House at Hunters Bar, located in a shop unit that was previously an e-cigarette retailer! It feels like a proper real ale pub but smaller. There is a good range of real ales here including a house beer ‘Beer House Pale’ brewed by Hopjacker brewery complemented by quality spirits sourced by the local specialist off licence, Starmoreboss. Snacks are available including cheese and meat platters, pork pies and crisps. Just down the road is the Portland House, opened by Welbeck Abbey Brewery in a shop unit that was previously a Cooplands Bakery sandwich shop! It operates on a similar basis to the Beer House but has a much more modern look and feel to the place. The Itchy Pig Alehouse in Broomhill in terms of style sits somewhere between the two, has a range of real ales and craft kegs, snacks are very pig themed with pork pies and scratchings! In the City Centre we have the Drink Inn on Commercial Street in premises that were once a fish & chip shop, this is really a modern bar on a small scale. It is friendly and has a choice of three regularly changing real ales plus a keg selection taking in both craft and the mainstream. The beer shop category includes Hop Hideout on Abbeydale Road and Walkley Beer Company at Walkley, these are basically small bottle shops with the addition of a big communal table and some draught beer taps behind the shop counter. Finally we have the ‘pop up pub’ that is slowly developing into a proper micropub – the Bar Stewards Hop Yard on Gibralter Street, opposite Shakespeares pub. At the moment it opens selected weekends with a different range of real ales on handpump each time along with a bottled craft beer selection and makeshift furniture, however there are grander plans afoot once it is permanently licenced rather than just on temporary event notices. Other micropubs to try nearby include:
  • Chesterfield Alehouse, West Bars – Chesterfield
  • Beer Parlour, Whittington Moor – Chesterfield
  • Wath Tap, Wath upon Dearne – near Rotherham
  • Arcade Alehouse, Barnsley

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