Pub of the Year 2019

Following suggestions that followed a motion at our branch AGM last year, we’ve made some changes to our Pub of the Year competition for this year in order to give a better chance of recognition to pubs outside the most visited locations (ie the City Centre and Kelham Island).

As always, the qualifying pubs are those that have either been awarded a place in the current Good Beer Guide or received a Pub of the Month award over the past year (which is nominated and voted for by our members).

All CAMRA members in Sheffield & District were invited to vote for which pubs they thought were best in order to come up with winners for the different regions of Sheffield & District. The winner from each area was then put forward to judging to pick the overall winner using objective criteria. Our overall Sheffield winner then goes forward into the Yorkshire round of the national competition whilst our District winner goes forward into the North Derbyshire round of the national competition.

Running alongside our main pub of the year, we also make an award for Cider Pub of the Year and Club of the Year which is selected by members at a branch meeting.

CITY CENTRE WINNER – Rutland Arms, Brown Street

The Rutland was once a failed, boarded up Punch Taverns pub until that pub company sold the building to a local property businessman who converted the former B&B accommodation upstairs into a student flat and kept the pub part of the building to rent out to a local independent operator. That at the time was Andy Stephens’ Reet Ale Pub Company that set the pub going in its current direction – a classic pub with a slightly punk twist, real ale, fresh food, beer garden and juke box.

Two years ago Chris Bamford and Kate Major took over the Rutland along with the existing staff and manager Heather. The bar has been refitted and has a wider selection of craft beers on keg alongside the reorganised handpumps that feature a couple of house beers from Blue Bee along with numerous guest ales on cask. Regular special beer events take place with themed nights, tap takeovers and beer tastings often in the diary.

On the food front, good quality fresh cooking continues to feature with the printed menu offering a selection of bar snacks and the specials board offering bistro standard small plates, main meals and sandwiches. One of the more recent developments is the expansion of the choice of vegan dishes.

As for that juke box? – well you are still warned to pay attention to the forbidden music board…

SOUTH SHEFFIELD WINNER – Sheaf View, Heeley

The Sheaf View was closed and boarded up when James Birkett bought it in the year 2000. When he reopened it the pub was a hit straight away with a variety of real ales and reasonable prices plus European beers on keg, simple clean interior decorated with breweriana, beer garden and friendly service. In the last 19 years little has changed – sandwiches are now available to buy at the bar and a number of Neepsend Brewery beers are always available due to being under the same ownership – but otherwise the winning formula has been kept and the pub is as popular as ever!

Getting there: buses 10/10a/20/24/25/43/44/X17 stops on Chesterfield Road outside Ponsfords or buses 18/19/252 stops on Prospect Road near Heeley City Farm.

WEST SHEFFIELD WINNER – Itchy Pig Ale House, Broomhill

Although a relatively new addition to the Sheffield beer scene, it is one that has established itself pretty well! The founder of this micropub, Ted, is from Kent originally but now lives in Sheffield with his wife. The bar features a range of craft beers on both cask and keg, friendly staff and pork scratchings. As well as the popular micropub in Broomhill they have an outside bar, which currently serves the drinks at Sheffield Eagles rugby fixtures at the Olympic Legacy Park.

Getting there: bus 120 stops outside, buses 51/52/52a/273/274 stop nearby.

KELHAM ISLAND WINNER – Kelham Island Tavern, Russell Street

A pub that needs no introduction having won many awards over the years!

When Trevor Wraith bought the pub in 2002 it was closed, boarded up and in the red light district although a number of other real ale pubs had been established in the area at the time.

Right from the word go, the formula and standards to expect was clear – the pub is clean, comfortable and friendly; a large range of real ales with all the main beer styles covered (so yes always a dark beer and a mild available!), reasonable prices, simple lunchtime food and a lovingly maintained beer garden.

Although the formula and traditional standards have remained unchanged over the years, there has been some innovation including the back room being built as an extension and the introduction of a regularly changing UK craft keg line.

At the end of last year Trevor retired and the management of the pub has been taken over by Josh and Louise – who also run Blue Bee Brewery and have been involved in Sheffield’s Steel City Beer & Cider Festival in the last few years. Josh is also no stranger to the Kelham, having worked behind the bar when he was at University.

Only subtle changes have been made under the new management – the lunchtime food menu has been overhauled and cask beer from some of the more fashionable brewers such as Cloudwater and Buxton has appeared on the bar for example whilst Bradfield Farmers Blonde has also given way to Blue Bee Reyt Blonde.

DISTRICT (DERBYSHIRE) WINNER – Three Stags Heads, Wardlow Mires

The Three Stags Heads is something of a legendary rural pub. It is featured in CAMRA’s national inventory of unspoilt pub interiors and run very much with a no nonsense attitude! There are two small rooms, one containing the bar and both have a real fire, usually with dogs in front of them (therefore you are asked to take care opening the front door which opens onto a main road!) The pub hit the headlines in the Sheffield Star in the 1990s with their sign above the bar asking patrons to refrain from asking for draught lager as a smack in the gob often offends.

The beer choice is a number of handpumps dispensing beer from Abbeydale Brewery, including their strong and dark house ale, Black Lurcher, named after the dogs that used to be resident in the pub.

The food and decor reflect the pubs place in a countryside community, also look out for the plates made in the ceramic workshop on site. Regular music sessions also take place.

Note as the pub is small minibus groups can only be accommodated with advance arrangement.

NORTH SHEFFIELD WINNER & OVERALL PUB OF THE YEAR – Gardeners Rest, Neepsend

The Gardeners Rest has been a Sheffield real ale institution for many years now under the management of Pat and Eddy, although it was nearly lost to the Sheffield flood of 2007. It featured a range of ales including many new ones, cider, folk music, art, bar billiards and a riverside beer garden. Latterly it became the tap for the Sheffield Brewery Company.

Pat and Eddy retired in October 2016 and put the pub up for sale. The Gardeners Rest Community Society took over the running of the pub and the following year bought the pub outright having raised funds through the combination of a community share issue and finance from the Plunkett Foundation & Key Fund.

The Gardeners continues to offer beer from Sheffield Brewery along with a selection of guest ales on its handpumps, there is still music performed in the lounge, a quiz night and art on the walls; the bar billiards table has been moved into the snug, sandwiches and pork pies are now available to buy at the bar and the slightly eccentric riverside beer garden has been improved. A function room is now available upstairs for meetings and community events.

Less visible is the pub’s community participation ethos and as well as hosting local meetings/events for local groups they get involved with taking on volunteers wishing to learn skills, gain confidence and improve their ability to get a job among other initiatives.

For us it is just a great classic pub with nice beer in the hands of people who care.

Getting there: Bus 7/8 stops right outside or Infirmary Road tram stop is 5 minutes walk away.

CIDER PUB OF THE YEAR – New Barrack Tavern, Hillsborough

The New Barrack Tavern on Penistone Road is owned by Castle Rock Brewery of Nottingham and has been run by Kev and Steph ever since the brewery bought it. Initially they were employed as managers, now they lease the pub and run it as their own business.

Investment in the pub over the last few years has included the entertainment stage in the front room which hosts live music and comedy clubs; upgrades to the beer garden and the extension that contains a function/meeting room with its own bar.

More recently it was decided that food wasn’t the focus of the pub so the latest change has been to remove the kitchen and replace it with a new area not only featuring an extended bottled beer choice but also a cider bar enabling the pub to offer a much extended choice of traditional ciders.

Our Cider Pub of the Year award reflects the investment, work and effort to offer and promote an improved choice of cider & perry in a City where the choice of real cider is still quite limited.

Getting there: bus 7/8/86 stops outside, Bamforth Street tram stop is a few minutes walk away.

CLUB OF THE YEAR – Royal British Legion, Chapeltown

The Legion is a members club located near Chapeltown railway station with a good
selection of guest ales, and many forms of entertainment. The club organises an annual BBQ & Beer Festival in July. Three handpumps offer Abbeydale Moonshine, one changing dark beer, and one other changing beer from a wide variety of local brewers, including Acorn, Chantry, Pennine, Sheffield, Stancill, and Toolmakers. During 2016 they had 124 different real ales from 14 different local breweries. The club organises race nights, Chase the Ace and occasional live music. There is a full-size snooker table, darts, and Sky & BT Sports for the big match.

Our Club of the Year award recognises a club making the effort to serve good real ale.

2 comments

  1. Can anybody go into The Club of the Year? If not, it shouldn’t be club of the Year.

    1. the very nature of a club as opposed to a pub is you have to be a member or guest so that isn’t a requirement for club of the year.

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