Pub of the Year 2024 (District)

The winner in the Derbyshire part of our Sheffield & District branch area competition, as voted for by our members and validated by our judges, is the Old Hall Hotel in Hope.

The main pub building is a 16th Century coaching inn sited on the main road through the village opposite the church which is split into three areas – the main lounge containing the bar, a smaller side room and a restaurant. Upstairs there are hotel rooms offering bed & breakfast accommodation with the breakfast served in the tea room, located in a newer building that is connected to the main pub.

The pub is traditionally furnished and in the winter gets quite cosy with the fire lit!

A selection of well kept real ales is available on the pub’s bar, generally leaning towards the more traditional styles. The pub is also proud of its scotch whisky selection with some of the stock arriving following road trips to the highlands and islands of Scotland!

On most bank holiday weekends a marquee appears on the pub car park hosting the Hope Valley Beer & Cider Festival with a large range of cask ales served on a mixture of handpump and gravity and the opportunity is usually taken to showcase breweries from or near to Derbyshire including the two most local brewers Intrepid and Eyam. The festival also features live entertainment and a snack bar.

The Old Hall Hotel is leased from Heineken’s Star Pub Company by Atlantik Inns, a local company run hands on by experienced pub landlord Rick Ellison and his team. There is a quiz night every Tuesday and various other events from time to time and attracts tourists staying in the area, hikers and day trippers as well as locals that live in Hope or other nearby villages.

Join us at the Old Hall’s beer festival on Saturday 25 May when we’ll be presenting them with the District Pub of the Year award at around 3pm.

Buses 173 (Bakewell-Castleton) and 271/272 (Sheffield-Castleton) stop close to the pub or Hope railway station (Sheffield-Manchester line) is a 10-15 minute walk away.

Brewery Bits

Eyam brewery are hosting an open day on Saturday 15 June. As well as a bar serving their beers the event will feature a Sunshine Pizza truck, music and meet the brewer. Capacity is limited so advance tickets are recommended – they only cost £2.50 and include your first pint. The brewery is located in Great Hucklow at Cartledge House Business Centre. Buses 65 (Sheffield-Buxton) and 173 (Castleton-Bakewell) stop a few minutes walk away.

The newest beer from Chantry Brewery is “Living on the Ceiling”, a 4% ABV pale ale which made its debut on their tap room bar on the weekend of 12/13 April including the Saturday when a Spandau Ballet tribute band were playing there.

Fuggle Bunny Brew House have announced their calendar of Saturday special tap events, supplementing their routine Friday bar sessions. They will be on 25 May, 29 June, 27 July, 28 September, 26 October and 30 November. The Saturday events often include entertainment and a food vendor.

Inn Brief

The Cherry Tree Inn on Carterknowle Road is now open again and has real ale on the bar.

The Shepley Spitfire in Totley closed for a refurbishment on 8 April which also includes upgrades to the outdoor drinking and dining areas. It is expected to open on 9 May.

The Boston Arms in Woodseats are hosting a “crisp fest” from 2 to 6 May which we are told will involve beer and crisp pairings, bottomless crunch, crispmas quiz, special crisp sandwich menu, increased range of crisps, competitions and live music.

The Three Tuns in Sheffield City Centre had new opening hours which includes opening until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights. See their Facebook page for more information.

The Anchor on Tideswell crossroads recently enjoyed a lot of media attention after word got out this rural pubs had a dedicated tractor space in their car park!

Talking of the Anchor and tractors, the annual steam and tractor rally which departs from said pub takes place on 22 June this year.

The Bulls Head in Foolow has extended their opening hours to include Mondays.

The owner of the Red Lion in Litton is selling up and retiring and is holding a leaving do on Sunday 28 April from 4pm with live music. The actual date of handing over to the new owner was not confirmed at time of going to press.

Ben and Jo’s last weekend running the Plough in Low Bradfield was the 20/21 April and new tenants are being recruited to replace them. They aren’t going far though – they are moving up to the Old Horns Inn at High Bradfield!

The Kiveton Tap has now opened as a bottle shop.

The White Hart in Bradwell is now owned by Bradfield Brewery but with a local landlady running the pub. The bar features a range of cask ales from Bradfield but as this rural village pub in in Derbyshire, the Yorkshire Farmer is rebadged as a White Hart house ale!

We’re informed the Bistro Bisque on Ecclesall Road has beer from Bradfield Brewery.

Grafters Bar at Neepsend opened for their 2024 season on 19 April.

The Sheffield City Centre branch of Marston’s Pitcher & Piano chain has closed down, the venue will be reopening in the summer under a different brand.

North Derbyshire pub judging

With our entry of the Old Hall Hotel into the North Derbyshire regional entry round of the national Pub of the Year competition comes an obligation to judge the other entries in our region, from the Matlock, Chesterfield and Dronfield CAMRA branches. This was a fairly easy trip on the bus to do so we made an ad-hoc social of it.

A group of us met on the X17 bus from Sheffield to Matlock Green for our first pub of the day, the Red Lion, which is also home to Moot Ales. A range of their own beers plus guests were on the handpumps with an overall range of six cask ales available (seven were advertised but the Bass was unavailable).

Despite slightly windy conditions the sun was out and it was pleasant enough to take a walk into Matlock town centre and over the river bridge for a couple of bonus extra pubs – bod Matlock, Titanic Brewery’s café bar, where a little light lunch was enjoyed, before a further cheeky half a few doors down in the Twenty Ten bar, the Matlock branch award winner last year!

Back on the X17 next, to Chesterfield, followed by a bit of a walk (some of our party regretted not waiting for a connecting bus!) up to Brampton to visit the Rose & Crown. The main part of the pub was packed and the outdoor drinking areas were fairly busy for the time of year too, however the snug room was empty so we made ourselves comfy in there and enjoyed a couple of well kept ales from a fairly extensive choice served by staff who were friendly and helpful despite being busy.

Lessons were learned and we caught a bus from Brampton back into Chesterfield town centre in order to catch the 44 bus up to Coal Aston to visit the final pub to be judged, the Cross Daggers. This is a traditional community local which only opens in the evening and at around 6pm on Saturday when we arrived was packed with a great atmosphere, we were lucky and managed to squeeze in on an empty table!

The beer range wasn’t as exotic as the other pubs we’d visited – Tetley Bitter, Adnams Broadside, Timothy Taylor Landlord and a Drone Valley beer providing the LocAle representation – however all the beers tried were in immaculate condition and served by efficient staff.

Having visited all three pubs we were required to judge a good number of the party headed home from here, however a couple of us jumped in a taxi for the short trip down the hill into Dronfield and enjoyed an excellent pizza at the Dronfield Arms (which is also home to Temper Brewing) and saw a band performing at the Green Dragon before boarding a 43 bus back to Sheffield.

Bus X17 runs limited stop between Sheffield, Chesterfield and Matlock every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday daytime and hourly on Sundays. Bus 44 runs from Sheffield to Chesterfield via Coal Aston and Dronfield hourly in the daytime and every 2 hours in the evening. A Derbyshire Wayfarer pass for all buses in Derbyshire (including direct buses from Sheffield to/from Derbyshire) costs £8 for the day or single fares are currently capped at just £2 per ride. Check out more details of the pubs at whatpub.com.

Pub of the Month April 2024

Craftworks describes itself as a micropub, although some may say it is bigger than the typical micro being two shop units knocked together, however at heart that is what it is!

The venue sits on the main road through Mosborough and appeals to many sections of the community, opening from 9am serving decent coffee supplied by Sheffield-based Forge Coffee Roasters with bar staff benefitting from barista training and using a proper espresso machine. They also usually have a selection of cakes and bakes available on the bar in the morning too.

Into the afternoon and evening the focus is more on the beer, wines and spirits (although both coffee and booze is available all day!) with four handpumps on the bar for cask ales, including a house pale ale supplied by Abbeydale Brewery. These are supplemented by a tap wall featuring additional craft beers on keg.

On Mondays, Craftworks offer a cask club promotion from 6pm with 15% off the real ales on handpump.

The bar generally offers a friendly, relaxed atmosphere to enjoy nice drinks, however there are some evening events that take place too including quiz nights (Tuesdays 8pm), live music (Sundays 4pm) and comedy (last Wednesday of the month at 8pm).

They also take part in the annual Eckington Beer & Music Festival which sees a number of pubs and cafes on the road from Mosborough through Eckington and Marsh Lane to Hundall put entertainment on, which this year is held on Saturday 29 June.

We’ll be heading over to Craftworks to present their Pub of the Month award certificate on the evening of Tuesday 9 April. This is their quiz night so you may choose to take part in that, enjoy a beer or two and then see our presentation after.

Stagecoach buses 50/50a (Sheffield Interchange to Chesterfield via Eckington) will get you there and drop you off quite close to their door, alternatively a short walk away are TM Travel buses 30a/55 and Hulleys bus 80/80a.

Volunteer writers needed!

CAMRA branches are entirely volunteer run and likewise Beer Matters magazine – our branch newsletter for Sheffield & District – is written by volunteers – mostly CAMRA members – to share their interests in pubs, real ale and the campaign. Design and print costs are funded by advertisers.

We’re looking for more people to contribute to the content of the magazine (and website) with relevant local content that will interest our readers. If this is something that would interest you please get in touch!

We also always appreciate bits of news from pubs, clubs and breweries!

Area Pub of the Year winners

Thanks to all our members who voted in the Pub of the Year competition and thanks also to those who volunteered to visit all the area winners to objectively judge the overall winner! We’ll be featuring the overall winner next month, here are the area winners!

North Sheffield – Blake Hotel, Walkley

The Blake is one of Sheffield’s classic pubs, often remembered by University students living nearby that walk there for a pint as its on the top of a very steep hill and next to a park! It is a traditional community pub which was restored and reopened back in 2010 after seven years of closure, always has a good choice of well kept ales, an extensive whisky selection and a friendly atmosphere. Although it has changed ownership in recent years, it is still the same excellent pub!

East Sheffield – Chantry Inn, Handsworth

This is a traditional multi roomed community pub with low beamed ceilings located in St Mary’s Church yard – it is one of only four pubs in the UK with claims to be built on holy ground. It was originally a house for chaplains from mid-13th century becoming a public house in 1804. In 2019 the pub, previously known as the Cross Keys, was bought and carefully refurbished by Chantry Brewery of Rotherham, with a range of their beers on the bar.

South Sheffield – Sheaf View, Heeley

The Sheaf View was originally a 19th Century pub that had been closed and abandoned by Marstons Brewery. It was bought, restored, extended and reopened as a freehouse in the year 2000. The pub has two rooms – the main original room where you enter through a corridor which opens out into the bar area and a conservatory style extension. There is also a decking area as part of the outdoor drinking provision along with a grass embankment that leads up to the car park.

There is a quiz night and occasional acoustic live music events. They also host beer festivals a few times a year with a pop up bar in the conservatory and outside bar in a kiosk situated in the decking area. These events usually also involve music and a street food trader.

The walls and shelves are adorned with assorted breweriana and provide an ideal background for good drinking and conversation. A wide range of international beers, together with malt whiskies and a real cider complement the eight reasonably priced real ales. The pub gets very busy on Sheffield United match days with some of the more discerning fans popping in for a pint on the way to Bramall Lane!

West Sheffield – Itchy Pig Ale House, Broomhill

A fantastic micropub offering a good traditional community local in miniature. The name reflects an original back to basics vision of ale and pork scratchings, these days the bar continues to offer a great selection of real ales on handpump and other craft beers on tap and an atmosphere where you have both students and older locals sat with a nice drink either engaged in conversation or watching rugby on the TV!

Sheffield City Centre – Bath Hotel

A careful restoration of the 1930s interior gave this two roomed pub a conservation award and acknowledgement by CAMRA as one of Britain’s pubs with a three star pub interior of exceptional national historic importance. The bar lies between the tiled lounge, a small corridor drinking area and the cosy well-upholstered snug. The owner, Brian, is someone who has been on the Sheffield pub scene for many years – although not necessarily high profile – and after a few years of the pub being leased to Thornbridge Brewery is back running the pub himself with a team of staff. The Bath is a simple drinkers pub with friendly service and is somewhere to sit with a nice pint of local ale and enjoy conversation or perhaps a game of darts. It also has some community focus with the smaller of the two rooms available to hire for meetings etc.

Kelham Island & Neepsend – Kelham Island Tavern

This is a serial award winning beer drinkers pub that ticks all the boxes. It was reopened in 2002 when it was bought as a closed near derelict pub, well before the regeneration of the Kelham Island district had kicked off and later had the back room added as an extension. The pub has two rooms and a beer garden, all usually spotlessly clean. The bar features an extensive range of cask ales on handpump always including some dark beers and a gluten free option – all served by friendly and knowledgeable staff. There is a weekly quiz and folk music sessions. The only food served is pork pies and bhajis.

District (Derbyshire) – Old Hall Hotel, Hope

The Old Hall is a Peak District village pub that manages the rare achievement of being different things to different people and still get it right! The building (the main part of which dates back to 1729) contains a real ale pub, restaurant, tea room and hotel accommodation and attracts locals, walkers and tourists. A quiz night is held on Tuesdays and a beer & cider festival is hosted in a marquee over most bank holiday weekends.

Brewery Bits

BrewSocial is no longer brewing.

Bradfield Brewery continue with their programme of seasonal ales with Plum Bitter hitting the bars in March with CruciBull due to be released whilst the world snooker is on at the Crucible theatre then looking ahead to May they have a cherry beer planned. On the bottled side of things the latest bottling of Belgian Blue is gluten free.

Chantry Brewery’s Full Moon Pale Ale is now gluten free.

Little Critters new dark mild – Bentley’s Bark – made an appearance at the Rotherham Real Ale & Music festival. It is 4.2% ABV and brewed with cane molasses along with UK malt and hops giving it a touch of sweetness as well as a smooth texture and deep flavour.

Collyfobble brewery, based in Barlow near Dronfield, is brewing a mild for May.

One of the more recent Fuggle Bunny Brew House beers which was featured at Rotherham Real Ale Music festival was Chapter 11 – 2AM Hoppy, a 3.9% ABV session IPA. Although fairly lightweight in terms of alcohol content, the flavour is a bit more heavyweight with citrus notes and plenty of bitterness! The brewery continues to host tap sessions every Friday and they are just a short walk from Halfway tram terminus.

Neepsend Brewery marked International Women’s Day with a collaboration brew with Jo from the Anglers Rest in Bamford. Look out for this beer in cask on the bar at the Anglers soon.

Steel City Brewing’s “Cask of the Red Death” was rate by Untappd users as the best Imperial / Double Outmeal stout in England for 2023.

Drone Valley Brewery, a community enterprise based in Unstone near Dronfield, have released a new session IPA. It is brewed with a couple of New Zealand hop varieties – Nelson Sauvin and Motueka so expect a distinctive citrus flavour, however it is a very sensible 3.2% ABV! Meanwhile their tap room has now moved to summer opening hours – Friday 4pm to 8pm, Saturday 3pm to 8pm and Monday 4:30pm to 7:30pm. They will also be opening on the first Sunday of the month from 2pm to 7pm. Buses 43 and 44 go there.

Champion Beers of Rotherham

On the day before the Rotherham Real Ale & Music festival opened at Magna, all the beers from Yorkshire were judged for their own Champion Beer of Yorkshire competition.

Rotherham Real Ale & Music Festival organiser Dr Stephen Burns at Chantry Brewery

The winners…

Mild – Timothy Taylor, Dark Mild.

Session Bitter – Timothy Taylor, Boltmaker

Premium Bitter – Chantry, Special Reserve

Session Blonde/Pale – Ossett, Melon

Premium Pale – Bradfield, Farmers Pale

IPA – Triple Point, Debut

Porter – Doncaster, Liquorice Lump

Stout – Great Newsome, Liquorice Lad

OVERALL JOINT CHAMPIONS..

Chantry, Special Reserve & Triple Point, Debut.

Triple Point has also won awards at Sheffield’s Steel City Beer & Cider Festival for their Debut IPA

PUBlic Transport

A new Demand Responsive bus service has launched in North East Derbyshire called Travel Derbyshire On Demand, funded by the county council’s bus service improvement plan.

This is a minibus service operated by Derbyshire Community Transport that is open to all and is designed to cater for journeys not served by regular scheduled buses. The fare is a flat £4 per ride for adults (Derbyshire Wayfarer tickets also accepted) and you need to book your journey in advance either on their app or on the phone. The system then designs a bus route around all the passengers wanting to travel around that time.

This bus is available for pretty much any journey within North East Derbyshire and operates on weekdays between 7am and 7pm and on Saturdays between 8am and 5pm.

The area of operation stretches from Dronfield, Ridgeway and Eckington in the north down as far south as Alfreton. There’s some good rural pubs in that area this bus could be useful for getting to in an afternoon!

For more information, including a link to download the app, visit their website roadxs.com/travel-derbyshire-on-demand/ or phone 01773 317173.

In other news, the Sheffield City Centre “Sheffield Connect” bus service sees improvements from 8 April. The existing service will be numbered SC1 and operate longer hours – 7am to 7pm – and a second route, SC2 will be introduced running from Sheffield Interchange to the Moor then along Arundel Gate, down to Millsands (for Kelham Island) and back to the Interchange via Castlegate and Flat Street. At the same time the existing minibuses are due to be replaced with electric single deckers too.