I moved to Kelham Island, Sheffield in November 2011 after a little over 10 years of residence in the fine city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Now, a period of that magnitude does not pass without the establishment of some routines, one of which got the weekend off to an early start with a few pints, a pub quiz and a game of darts at my favourite haunt (The Bodega, Westgate Road). Of course, moving to a new city involves no small amount of upheaval in one’s life, upheaval that I intended to mitigate by the transference of my Thursday routine. So, I sallied forth from my new flat to investigate the numerous new local pubs with some key questions in mind, namely: Is this pub inundated with cask beer? Is there a weekly quiz? Is said quiz on a Thursday? Is there also a dartboard? To my joy I discovered that there was indeed a place that could answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions and the name of that place was Shakespeare’s. Of course, my Thursday quizzing meant that I was a frequent enough visitor to the pub to get acquainted with staff and regulars alike. Indeed, before long I had regained the sense of a genuine pub community that I had, perforce, left behind at The Bodega in Newcastle.
Over six years and one ‘Sheffield CAMRA Pub of the Year’ (2013) later, Shakespeare’s is still a public house par excellence, and while it is true that pale ales tend to preponderate amidst the forest of beer engines, variety is also guaranteed with permanent provision of at least one stout or porter, in addition to half a dozen (sometimes more) craft keg beers, the corollary of which is no shortage of sours and imperial stouts, but also a phantasmagoria of IPAs, DIPAs and SIPAs. It’s little wonder that the pub sees such a steady stream of beer tickers flowing through its doors.
Beers aside (heaven forefend!), the games foundation of darts has been built upon to include an upstairs games room with bar skittles, bar billiards, table football, board games and a Yorkshire dart board. Upstairs also is their spacious function room which is put to good use hosting gigs, dancing, meetings and parties of all sorts.
Of course, staff and regulars have come and gone since the Winter of 2011, but that ineffable sense of pub community has remained untarnished (indeed it is far from unusual to find that staff who move on to work elsewhere are merely transformed from bar workers into regular patrons). Manager Chris and his splendid outfit of beer connoisseurs are more than capable of helping the discerning drinker with their painstaking ‘which next?’ decision. All in all, Shakespeare’s is most worthy ‘Pub of the Month’; a fine place for fine ale served by fine folk in the company of fine people.