Sportsman, Darnall

Recent planning applications bring the news that the Sportsman (Darnall Road, S9 5AD) is to become a House of Multiple Occupation for 16 people.

Opening as a beer house in 1859, the Sportsman was an ex-John Smiths, two-roomed pub with a central bar. 1953 plans (Wilburn & Atkinson, Architects, Doncaster for Messrs.Whitworth Son & Nephew Ltd.) show an identical lay-out with three external doors (left, central and right). At the time of closure, there was a mosaic on the floor entrance (often hidden by a mat) and tiling in the right-hand room. The most recent pub sign was based on ex-landlord, Darnall-born featherweight boxer, Billy Calvert (1933- 2016). He twice unsuccessfully fought for the British Title in a seven-year career which commenced in 1958. 

Sheffield’s Real Heritage Pubs

The fifth edition of the Sheffield’s Real Heritage Pubs arrived from the printer just in time for the 2023 CAMRA Member’s Weekend, AGM & Conference (1000 copies, A5, 128 pages, full colour throughout, £8.99 RRP). 

Copies are available at several local outlets: Beer Central, Draughtsman (Doncaster railway station), Famous Sheffield Shop, Fat Cat, Kelham Island Books + Music, Kelham Island Museum, Hop Hideout, Makers Store (Meadowhall), Millennium Gallery, Next Chapter Books, Old Shoe, SMOD and Rhyme & Reason.

Thanks again to the sponsors of this printed edition: Abbeydale Brewery, Alder, Bradfield Brewery, Crow Inn, Hop Hideout, Rutland Arms and Sheffield Beer Week.

For copies by post, email

All copies of the pub heritage walk booklet have been distributed. The plan is to produce (at least) two further booklets in this series: Kelham Island/Neepsend (2024) and Little Chicago (2025). Launch events are planned for the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival.

Sheffield Beer Report 2024

It was recently announced that internationally recognised beer-writer, Pete Brown, is revisiting his 2016 report, ‘BEER,’ with an updated version to be launched during Sheffield Beer Week 2024 (4-10 March). The original report stated that ‘Sheffield is the real ale capital of the world – and can also stake a claim to being the birthplace of the UK craft beer revolution.’

At the time, I wrote: ‘I read the Report while en route for a few days in LambicLand (Belgium). It generated considerable discussion with both colleagues and also a number of local Brewers. At Itterbeek, we had a long beer-related conversation with the Flanders Region Minister of Culture. He expressed more interest in the Sheffield beer scene than seems to emanate from Sheffield Town Hall…… The Sheffield region needs to up its game regarding exports. The Sheffield Beer Report suggests that a local canning/bottling plant is an essential.’ (Beer Matters, 464, June 2016, 6-7).

Since then, the world has changed: Brexit, Covid, lockdowns, international uncertainty and continued inept UK government. However, almost eight years on, does Sheffield continue to justify the claim of the best real ale city in the world? My answer would be an undoubted ‘yes.’

The local beer range has grown dramatically over the last decade with several innovative new cask brewers coming on stream, for example: Grizzly Grains, Loxley and Triple Point. Innovative collaborations occur several times/week and several long-established brewers, including Abbeydale, Lost Industry and Steel City have taken-up barrel ageing with the Abbeydale, ‘Funk Dungeon’ project of particular note. Heist, despite their focus on Keykeg, recently won the gold award at the 47th Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival for their cask hazy session IPA, ‘The Bad Part of Gnome Town’ (4.6% abv) while, last year, Triple Point were winners of the World’s Best Gluten-free Beer at the World Beer Awards, for their Trivergence DIPA (8.5%). In addition, Fuggle Bunny, Stancil, Tapped and Toolmakers are celebrating a decade of brewing while brewSocial have recently completed their first year in operation.

Sheffield is also attracting, well-respected brewers from elsewhere. For example, after seven successful years managing the ‘Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project,’ in Boston, Massachusetts (established 2008), Dann Paquette and Martha Holley spent two years travelling. In 2018, they relocated to Sheffield, and, in deepest Attercliffe, established St.Mars of the desert (SMOD). Their aim is to ‘brew adventurous beers for interesting people.’ In this, they have succeeded: their ‘Secret World,’ is hidden behind old industrial units in a currently unfashionable part of the city. Here an exciting range of beers are produced and may be sampled in their taproom. On RateBeer, in 2020, they were named as amongst the top ten new breweries in the world. A second example is Mike Pomranz. Mike moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Sheffield in 2016 continuing his interest in cidermaking. In September 2021, he opened The Cider Hole – an urban microcidery, bar, and bottle shop – where he made, and served, his own Exemption Ciderhouse cider. Having become the 2023 Sheffield and District CAMRA ‘Cider Pub of the Year,’ the Cider Hole closed in June, Exemption relocating to become part of the Old Shoe, a new bar located in the city centre.

My suggestion regarding export has happened. Stimulated by lockdown, there has also been an almost exponential increase in the range, and variety, of small-package products: beers from many Sheffield breweries are now widely available in both bottle and can. For example, Abbeydale, Bradfield, Little Critters, Neepsend and Triple Point can be found nationwide. It’s also worth noting that the beer of ‘Sheffield Home of Football’ is brewed at Meadowhead by Little Mesters. There has also been a growth in high quality bottle-shops, for example, long- established favourites, the Dram Shop and Small Beer have been joined by the likes of Beer Central and Hop Hideout, both of whom recently celebrated their 10th anniversary.

As for pubs: Sheffield does not seem to have experienced the dramatic pub-loss suffered by many other parts of the UK. There have been closures but also many openings, especially of micropubs: we seem to have more micropubs than any other UK city of a comparable size. Local beers continue to be seen across the city with cask-only brewer, Blue Bee, a particular favourite. Beer tourism continues to provide massively more income to the city than the annual World Snooker Championship. This was recently illustrated when CAMRA held their annual Member’s Weekend, Conference and AGM at the University of Sheffield. Apart from one negative comment regarding the hills, almost 1000 attendees gave very positive feedback on local beers, pubs and importantly, their friendly welcome.

Sheffield also continues to be the only UK city with its own detailed Pub Heritage publication. Originally produced in 2018, this 120- page book is now in its 5th edition and is available as both a paper copy and a free download.

In short, since 2016, the Sheffield beer scene has vastly improved: more innovation, more choice, more venues and more information – it remains the undoubted beer capital of the world.


Green King recently announced that they are supplying pins (4.5 gallon casks of beer) of ‘Fresh Cask Releases’ to all their managed, leased, tenanted and free trade customers, as part of their seasonal cask beers calendar. The first releases, in July, were Ale Fresco (4.3%, golden ale) and New Tricks (a 4% collaboration with Nethergate, which includes ginger and lemon).

Are there any local breweries doing the same? If so, please tell us, as we know of several local outlets who are attempting to purchase pins of local cask beer, but having zero success. Pins have the advantage of both offering an additional choice and allowing the provision of cask beer when throughput is not high.


The Farfield (376 Neepsend Lane, S3 8AW) was built in 1752 as a gentleman’s residence. As a pub, it was damaged in the 1864 Sheffield Flood, when the nearby bridge collapsed and the Don overflowed. The publican, Matilda Mason, was forced to shelter on the upper floors. She later claimed £162 13 s 9d for loss of property. This claim was ‘assessed by agreement incl. costs at £90’ on 10th June 1865.

1961 plans show four separate rooms on the ground floor. A Public Bar to the left of the entrance, Saloon to the right, with a Smoke Room behind. The Saloon includes a Servery. The far-left corner is a kitchen. Alterations (John Foster, Group Architect, Joshua Tetley & Son Ltd.) open out the Saloon and Smoke Room into a larger Smoke Room with the Servery moving into a more central position. The kitchen becomes inside toilets. 1992 saw the addition of several internal doors (Michael Self Partnership, Chartered Architects, Sheffield). Externally, between floors, to the right, is a distinctive moulded cement sign reading ‘Farfield Inn.’ The building was Grade II listed in December 1995.

For many years, the pub prospered as a Gilmours, and later, a Tetleys house. Personally, I recall attending a CAMRA ‘games evening’ in the early 1980s. Changes of name (Owl, Muff Inn) followed, before the building was gutted, and subsequently closed, as a consequence of the 2007 Sheffield floods. In January 2018, the building sold at auction, as a development opportunity’ for £250k. The guide price was £95k. The Auction Brochure described the building as requiring ‘complete restoration following floor damage.’

In February 2019, a planning application was made to Sheffield City Council: ‘Alterations to and refurbishment of Public House, formation of 6 flats on first and second floor, use of existing outbuilding as a workshop and erection of a two-storey building to form 2 workshops (Use Class B1) and erection of associated bin stores.’ This was validated the following February and a decision made in March 2021. The gap of over two years between the original application and the decision from SCC suggests that there was considerable interaction between the applicant and the decision makers.

The planning application was refused. The key reason seems to be: ‘‘On the face of it ….. the benefit of the proposed renovation of this listed building ….. appear to outweigh any less than substantial harm that may arise. However ….. there are inadequacies in the submission (in relation to noise and the impact of the development on the amenities of future residents) which cannot be dealt with by condition which mean that the full impact of the proposals on the listed building cannot be properly assessed and so the level of harm cannot be accurately determined or, therefore, justified.

This imposing building has been closed for almost twenty years. In the interim, Kelham Island, described by Time Magazine as, ‘one of the coolest places on the planet,’ has slowly encroached. We look forward to seeing a subsequent planning application and the building both restored to its former glory and back in use.

Steel City 47 – Talks, tours & tastings

For the first time, events at the forthcoming Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival will include a guided
historical walk: Sheffield’s Little Chicago Quarter in 1925. This will explore streets that feature in the leader’s book ‘Sheffield 1925: Gang Wars and Wembley Glory,’ with a narrative explaining how Sheffield briefly became the most turbulent city in Britain because of an escalating gang war
involving the Park Brigade, Mooney Gang, the Gas Tank Gang and many others.

The short walk will explore the social and Industrial heritage of the area, examining the myths and reality of a tumultuous year in Sheffield history, before finishing at the Beer Festival.

Dave Pickersgill, editor of ‘Sheffield’s Real Heritage Pubs,’ will provide an illustrated presentation
while, the three tastings: ‘Bridging the Gap between Beer and Cider,’ ‘Cask is Craft?‘ and ‘From
Europe to Mars,’ will, between them, cover a wide spectrum of the 21 st century UK beer scene.

Mike Pomranz (Old Shoe) will compare two beers and two ciders: two ‘single variety’ and two of a
‘funkier’ description before sampling the single box of a 2023 mixed-variety Sheffield grown and
made cider from his Exemption Ciderhouse. Mike successfully delivered a similar, more cider-
focussed event, at the recent national Members’ Weekend.

Julia Gray will introduce four contrasting beers: two cask (gravity and hand-pull), one key-keg and one from a small pack. An experienced beer trade professional with almost twenty years in the field, she aims to showcase, “the variety and quality of beer currently available in the UK.”
Jules owns a local independent award-winning beer shop and tasting room, Hop Hideout (established 2013). In 2015 she set-up a city-wide beer celebration in her hometown: Sheffield Beer Week. In 2018, this was followed by a new craft beer festival: Indie Beer Feast, now an annual event.

Dann Paquette and Martha Holley from local brewery, Saint Mars of the Desert (SMOD), will
introduce two European favourites and the beers which they have inspired. SMOD draw their
brewing inspiration from many sources, from traditional 19 th century recipes to the bright, vibrantly hoppy beers of New England. Their greatest influence is possibly the Belgian monastic style. As Martha put it, “this is an ideal opportunity for us to look back to our key influences, the Belgian and German beers which inspired us to produce such classics as Clamp and Jack D’Or.”
After seven successful years managing the ‘Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project,’ in Boston,
Massachusetts, Dann and Martha spent two years travelling. In 2018, they relocated to the best beer city in the world. On RateBeer, they were quickly named as amongst the top ten new breweries world-wide. Their brewery and taproom is hidden behind old industrial units in a currently unfashionable part of the city.

The 47th Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival will be held at Kelham Island Museum: 18-21 October 2023. Advance tickets for all events are available:

Pub heritage publications

Thanks to all the retail outlets which are stocking, one (or both) of the recently published Sheffield Pub Heritage publications: Abbeydale Brewery, Bath Hotel, Beer Central, Biblioteka (at their new premises on Eyre Street), the CAMRA Shop, the Crow, Dog and Partridge, Draughtsman (Doncaster), Fagan’s, Famous Sheffield Shop, Fat Cat, Hop Hideout, Kelham Island Books and Music, Kelham Island Museum, Makers Shop (Meadowhall), Millennium Galleries, Samuels Kitchen (Stocksbridge), St.Mars of the Desert Brewery, the University Arms and Weston Park Museum.

Both the booklet and the book are selling well – please contact for retail enquiries or copies by post.

Finally back to Bruges

After a considerable delay, I recently celebrated a significant birthday in Bruges. The first visit since 2019. A Eurostar deal gave us with an excellent ‘room with a view’ – top floor at Martin’s Bruges, a few hundred metres from the Belfort, a short walk from both Brugs Beertje and De Garre.

The main focus of the weekend was the 16th Bruges Beer Festival. Located at the recently completed, Meeting & Convention Centre, this saw some 80 breweries providing over 500 beers. Included were 16 breweries new to this festival, including the, perhaps inappropriately named, Misery Co. – a reference to the Stephen King book. Their New England IPA (6.9%) was one of several beers sampled from the 12.5 cl customised glass. Among many highlights was the first appearance of Terrest with their 8% Golden Triple, brewed with both grain and hops from the family farm at Houthulst. Also available was, the rarely seen,  Westvleteren 12  (10.2%).

We had many conversations with other visitors – one memorable exchange was with the reserve mascot for Charleroi FC (‘the Zebras’).  Sheffield, ‘the home of football’ was a common topic of conversation, a theme which has world-wide resonance, a theme which Sheffield should extensively utilise.

We also visited several bars, some return visits, but also new experiences: Halve Mann provided the (almost) obligatory Bruges Zot (the only bar which serves this 6% beer unfiltered from the tap), Bauhaus gave us Brussels Beer Project Juice Junkie (5.4%) while old favourite, St. Bernardus 12 (10%), was sampled at Yesterday’s World. The latter is a quirky bar, or, more accurately, a two-floor antiques shop which serves a selection of beers: well worth a visit.

After sampling the excellent camerise sour, Cantillon Sang Bleu (6%), we were about to leave Brugs Beertje when De Struise Black Damnation XXVI (‘Freddy’), an excellent, but rarely seen barrel-aged Belgian Royal Stout, appeared on the bar. This 13% beer is an epic, not to be missed. Suffice to say, our visit to De Garre, and their 11% house tripel, was slightly delayed.

Fort Lapin Brewery was also visited on their Saturday tap day. Since my last visit, the brewery has expanded (four new fermentation vessels). In November, they are relocating to a nearby industrial estate in order to gain more space. Their 8% Triple was a good start to the day. Good to hear that the elder son of the owners, Tristan Vandenbussche, is now a sprint canoe European Champion.

In short, Bruges provided a much-needed break, good company, good bars and good beer.

Pub heritage walks

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, these guided walks are cancelled

As part of Heritage Open Days 2023, we are leading two pub heritage walks. On Thursday 14September at 5pm we’ll be on West Street and on Sunday 17 at 2pm, we’ll be in Kelham Island. Both walks will include Victorian tilework, terrazzo flooring, art deco glasswork, a mention of long-gone Sheffield breweries and much more…..

photo: Pete Mudd

Full details and booking information are available:

If you can’t wait until September, you could try the latest edition of the Sheffield’s Real Heritage Pub book:

photo: Pete Mudd

Ticketed events for Steel City Beer & Cider Festival – October 2023

Exploring Sheffield’s Little Chicago Quarter in 1925: Gang Wars and a Murder Mystery.

Tickets for our first event are now available: a guided walk with a difference – you will explore Sheffield’s Little Chicago Quarter before your fast-track entry to our Beer Festival. Led by local author, John Stocks, you will explore the social and Industrial heritage of the area, examining the myths and reality of 1925, a tumultuous year in Sheffield’s history. The walk will explore streets that feature in your host’s book ‘Sheffield 1925: Gang Wars and Wembley Glory,’ with a narrative explaining how Sheffield briefly became the most turbulent city in Britain because of an escalating gang war involving the Park Brigade, Mooney Gang, Gas Tank Gang and many others.

The comfortable walk, with just one minor ascent, is under 2 miles and will last for approximately 90 minutes before concluding at Kelham Island Museum, and the 47th Sheffield Steel City Beer Festival (SCBF47) for a post-walk drink and discussion. There will also be the opportunity to purchase copies of the book.

This event will take place on Thursday 19 October; full details and advance tickets are available at:

Pub of the Month June 2023

Congratulations to Mark Simmonite and all at Perch Brewhouse (44 Garden Street, S1 4BJ) on becoming Sheffield & District CAMRA Pub of the Month for July 2023. The bar opened less than two years ago and has already made a mark on the Sheffield pub scene.

Back in 2015, Dead Parrot Brewery obtained the site, opening their brewery, three years later, in Autumn 2018. At that point, they had the medium-term intention of converting the frontage of the complex, the old works offices, into a taproom.


Previous long-term users were a small engineering manufacturing company who produced pen-knives and similar devices. The site was subsequently used by Sheffield City Council Parking Services, acting as the base for Parking Meter Operators; electronic equipment was left to charge overnight.

Almost two years after the opening of the brewery, in June 2020, a planning application was submitted. Formal planning permission was subsequently granted, a comment from ourselves was mentioned in the official report:

We are writing in support of this planning application. The addition of a small brewery tap, with community facilities, will provide additional needed infrastructure. As well as fulfilling a local need for increased retail and leisure facilities, the addition of a brewery tap will allow the brewery to further cement its position as part of the Sheffield beer tourism scene.

Conversion work continued during the various lockdowns. Plasterboard, partition walls and polystyrene ceiling tiles were removed, and a considerable amount of woodwork was reused. With careful use of contemporary materials, the old office space was stylishly converted into the new Perch Brewhouse, opening on 27th August 2021. It has since been nominated for a CAMRA/Heritage England Pub Design Award 2023.

In addition, the central yard now has a large timber-framed covered outside drinking/event area. Their first beer festival occurred during the recent national CAMRA Members’ Weekend. In addition to the ten Dead Parrot beers on the bar, an additional 35 cask beers were available in the outside area. The normal offering is ten cask, ten keg and over sixty bottles/cans. Food is also available, including a wide selection of pizzas. Perch is a welcome addition to beer opportunities in the city: please join us for their well-deserved presentation on Tuesday 13th June.