One more new GBG pub in central Sheffield, after a detour into student land and Bear Tree records to buy vinyl a good few quid cheaper than Cambridge.


Amber Arcades - European Heartbreak
Since you ask…

Mrs RM, I confirmed, was still shoe hunting (why are men so much quicker at shopping ?) so I had time to admire the artwork near the the ongoing building works behind John Lewis,  Like Manchester, a lovable mixture of grand, shiny and rundown in a small space.

More art
Anyone been in the Blair Athol
Water feature where told off once

Sheffield at 5pm on Saturday isn’t much quieter than Piccadilly Gardens, so I annoy shoppers by standing in front of them to take photos and get bashed by Primark bags.


The Head of Steam chain is one of the big winners in recent Beer Guides, with some grand old buildings pulling in a mixed crowd and pumping out some high quality beer.

Spot the Head of Steam livery

Like the Leeds branch, this is heaving.

The friendly couple at the bar have interesting looking beers, so I ask them what they are and get detailed tasting notes.  Something hoppy, something grapefruity and sour, apparently.

Then I just order the Old Peculier anyway.

Big fonts, tight head
Sheff life

No space inside but the outside tables give you a view to the Millennium Galleries and Yorkshire folk drunk on shopping.  It’s nearly as lively as a Bedford town pub on Tuesday lunchtime.

A rare sighting of OP, as silky smooth as you could wish, and it slips down too easily (NBSS 3.5).  Some folk would tells you this classic beer is Old Hat, of course.

In 1995 Mrs RM drank two pints of OP in half an hour in Hovingham, near Castle Howard, rather scaring my parents. Thought you’d like to know that.

114 – not my actual age
Yep. Lacings.

Mrs RM and James have set up camp in the Café Nero opposite the Waterworks, as that venerable Spoons is too busy to get a seat. apparently.

We consult our options for an early tea, and pick this place near James’ digs.

Hard to find

You won’t stumble across it, tucked amongst thee accommodation for foreign language students, but it’s a sensation. A glossy menu with pictures of bird feet, snake heads and wild aubergines, it defeats us completely for £10 a head and provides James with an unlikely breakfast.

They were showing the Chinese version of X Factor.  With the sound off.  I like that.


33 thoughts on “OLD PECULIER

  1. You won’t be surprised that I walked past that Head of Steam a few months ago to get to Humphrey’s OBB in the very nearby Brown Bear.


  2. Oh, and my first Old Peculiar was at the Beer Exhibition for the CAMRA national AGM of 1974 in York.
    At 15p a pint, 50% more than all the other beers, I should have known it was something special and it was.
    I have not thought much of OPec in recent years and am unsure how much it might have declined and how much many other beers have surpassed it.


    1. Rarely see it, Paul. Hard to shift a beer of that strength outside busy outlets like this one. Tasted pretty much as I remembered it. I’ve also had excellent (as well as dull) Theakstons Bitter (Carlisle) and Black Sheep (on A66) this year.


    1. I disagree here. It is a very complex old recipe that is the equal of anything. It’s not hop forward because it shouldn’t be. I’m sure many modern brewers have looked to Op and other ‘old’ beers for inspiration. If well kept and presented it is a stunning beer IMHO. Oh and it’s all in wooden casks.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I know why you wouldn’t warm to them. The ones I’ve been in recently, which is only big city places like Sheff, Leeds and Sunderland, all had a good mix of folk and excellent beer, which is hard to knock. I wouldn’t choose HoS over North Bar or Templar though.


    2. When Tony Brookes had them they were just about a good range of real ales.
      Under Camerons they’re offering more for a wider clientele which should enhance takings for the shareholders.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, Paul, that’s contentious. Viable pubs run for the benefit of a wider clientele than just Old Codgers like us drinking BBB are to be applauded. Perhaps they’ll start opening at 9am and then they’ll be as good as Stonegate ?


      2. I’m not one to be contentious and didn’t mean to suggest there was anything wrong with enhancing takings for the shareholders.
        However if a motion had been carried 42 years ago, the government had listened to and acted on the advice of the most successful consumer movement in Europe and Britain’s breweries had come under State Control things might be very different now.
        Running pubs for the benefit of a wider clientele is a great idea except that you end up with high street ‘barns’ aimed at everyone and not really pleasing anyone, a sort of Jack of All Trades chain.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was thinking more of the “wider clientele” than the ownership model. I agree a multi-room gem is a lot more enjoyable than a noisy barn though. The Black Country seems to manage to integrate the age groups into traditional pubs better than most.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Martin,
        Ah, yes, “wider clientele”. That, quite rightly I think, should be a factor in selecting a Pub of the Year but not GBG entries.
        “Ownership model” would run the risk of us discussing politics and I’ve already made it clear elsewhere that I have never had any allegiance to a political party. The Budweiser brewery under state ownership in Czechoslovakia did though brew much better beer than the “chemical fizz” from the Budweiser brewery in America.


      5. It was bad enough when CAMRA ran pubs, wasn’t it, let alone the state.

        Incidentally, Boak & Bailey’s 20th Century Pub is a brilliant look at state v private influences on pubs over the century.


      6. It was indeed bad enough when CAMRA ran pubs but even now there’s more than a few members telling publicans what they should do.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I’ve no idea how many CAMRA members “advise” publicans what to do, but I’ve certainly had a couple (in Kent and Mid Wales) tell me unprompted they were told to put on an extra beer to get in the Beer Guide. Read Pages 14-16 of the new Guide and it’s all about increasing the range, rather than shortening lines, cellar cooling, tasting the beer each session etc etc.


  3. “As good as Stonegate?” Is that an oxymoron?

    Final daft question, as it’s getting late (for me, at least), was it hot in the pub or was the lass in the photo, with her back to the camera, just trying to attract a bit of attention?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Paul,
      Stonegate have some very good pubs including the GBG listed Hogshead in Wolverhampton.
      I much prefer Stonegate’s breakfasts to Wetherspoons, although they do have a more limited cask beer range, and used at least weekly their CAMRA discount can add up to more than £20.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes,
        I think Stonegate, like Mitchells and butlers, do well with having several quite well known brands rather than the one-size-fits-all formula that we all too often see in high street barns.
        Before visiting a town or city I look on Stonegate’s website seeking a suitable breakfast venue and what surprises me is their uneven distribution, several in Wolverhampton for example but none in other places of a similar size.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Imagine my disappointment on approaching my nearest Stonegate pub for a breakfast and a Pedigree at 10.20am yesterday and seeing a notice on the door advising of new opening hours including from 11am on weekdays.
        I can’t claim to have breakfasted there often so aren’t going to keep on moaning about this change like those who move ‘to the country’, use their village pub only on their birthday and Christmas Eve and then moan like billy-O when it closes as unviable.
        Instead I managed with one of Tim’s breakfasts and a Slaters Premium – for which my 50p voucher would NOT be accepted – in the Picture House before catching the 11.03am train for Stoke on Trent and Titanic’s new Bod bar which has the sense to serve beer, including currently BOTH versions of their Plum Porter, from 8am.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Martin,
        Having used the railway station many dozens of times for its intended purpose, arriving at or departing from Stoke on Trent, it seemed really odd from 11.18am to 12.28pm yesterday just sat there with a decent pint and noticing other people coming and going.
        Many a micropub with bare brickwork inside just looks unfinished but there’s nothing wrong with the North Staffordshire Railway’s walls with black bricks making a diamond pattern just as it was there when the railway station opened 170 years ago today.
        It’s the Stoke Beer Festival next month but I might not get beyond the station !

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Paul,
      Proper pub games are rare nowadays but the lass in the photo with her back to the camera is a gambler who had just lost her shirt playing cards.
      Martin is the decent sort of chap who would NOT make his pint last over an hour to find out if her bad luck continued.


  4. Gentleman, I have to confess that my experience of Stonegate Inns is somewhat limited. They have an outlet in Tonbridge – the Gatehouse, and to be fair the team that runs it does an excellent job. I would also add that the pub is very community focussed.

    As far as cask ale is concerned though, the pub is very hit and miss, with the latter normally the case. The pub’s management have tried hard, but their customer base is centred towards a different demographic than your average ale connoisseur, with televised live sporting events and theme nights very much the order of the day.

    The Gatehouse was a “Slug & Lettuce “ in its previous incarnation, and most of the Slug’s customers gravitated back, when the revamped pub opened (nearly two years ago), so this probably gives you some idea of what I’m talking about.

    I fully accept that things are different in other parts of the country with regard to Stonegate, but serious beer aficionados in Tonbridge, tend to give the place a miss; a no brainer, when there’s Fuggles a short distance away, or the Nelson, if you prefer something a little more traditional.

    I can’t say I agree with you Stafford Mudgie, about their breakfasts. It obviously depends on the chef, but on the odd occasion I’ve had a Gatehouse/Stonegate breakfast, I’ve been under-whelmed, even preferring the offering from our local Spoon’s.

    Finally, apart from thinking they play strange games in Sheffield pubs, I’ve nothing further to add to the thread about the young lady in a state of undress!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never had a Stonegate breakfast. Spoons upped the bar for me with their Mushroom Benedict and refillable coffee for £4.45 offer. The one I had in Eccles was superb.

      I guess Stafford Mudge and I would balk at the suggestion that we’re beer aficionados :-)) That said, Fuggles or the other trad pub you took us in when we visited Tonbridge, definitely.


    2. Paul,
      I don’t doubt any of that.
      I’m sure that Fuggles and the Nelson are better pubs than the Gate House – although the Nelson not opening until 4pm might not be much use to me – but between 10am and 11.30am I am not so much a “serious beer aficionado” as someone seeking a half decent pint with my breakfast.
      With breakfasts the difference for me is that Stonegate freshly cook them, so slow and hot, while Wetherspoons do most of it at opening time, so fast and luke warm.

      Liked by 1 person

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