Arty Hard: Dada, Sheffield City Centre
Don’t get me started on Sheffield. I spent 2 years there (September 2002 – June 2004) when there were (to my knowledge at the time) a few good pubs with decent beer selections, such as The Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern and The Devonshire Cat. However two of those were in Kelham Island, which was a fair distance from where I lived and also a pretty overt red light district. As a result I spent most of my time drinking in a few nice pubs with a passable beer selection (The Cobden View, The Hallamshire House) as well as a few rubbish ones, as students do.
So I’m slightly irked by the gall of the place; becoming such a beer Mecca after I left. One of the main culprits is Thornbridge Brewery, which set up its 10 barrel plant in 2005, 17 or so miles to the south west of the city. Not content with conspiring with Pivovar to establish up the annoyingly good Sheffield Tap in the railway station, their pub estate in the city then expanded to include The Greystones and even, to rub salt in the wound, the refurbished Hallamshire House! The pub that was literally behind my house in my first year in Sheffield is now a Thornbridge craftpalace!
I did the pub quiz in the Hallamshire House on a regular basis! I’m pretty sure the burglars who robbed our house three times in a month used to “case the joint” from there! Now, its almost certainly full of students guzzling down Halcyon like it’s snakebite and black. It probably even does great Scotch Eggs, or pork pies you’d swap your LLB for. I don’t want to know. It’s dead to me.
Nowadays I don’t get to go to Sheffield very often, but we were down for a few hours on Saturday for a trip to John Lewis to buy some dogs’ heads for Christmas. We decided to go to Dada for lunch, yet another Thornbridge pub that just opened at the end of October on Trippet Lane, in the building that used to be Trippets Wine Bar. I liked the decor, with its mixture of quirkly artiness (objet trouvé bucket lampshades) and glorifications of the pantheon of Sheffield’s music scene (Cocker; Hawley; Turner; him off of The Human League). The link between Dadaism, music and Sheffield is Cabaret Voltaire, but I don’t think that the reason really matters. Dada is “the abolition of logic … the abolition of memory“.
There was obviously a great range of beer on cask, keg and in the fridges (Buxton, O’Dell etc). However I had to drive later, so we only had a meat and cheese platter and a couple of halves. I restricted myself to a 4.3% Thornbridge Browne: an “Australian Brown Ale” which had the sweet citrus and light caramel taste of C&C brown lemonade (spot the Northern Irishman) with some hops thrown in. Kate, who thought that the Browne’s flavour was like what kids imagine their father’s bitter to taste like, was able to go for the 7.2% Thornbridge/Kernel Coalition Burton Ale, a lovely hoppy, more viscous rich ale.
So yes, yes; da, da. Dada is good. As the Dadaists would have it:
Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means “hobby horse”. In German it means “good-bye”, “Get off my back”, “Be seeing you sometime”. In Romanian: “Yes, indeed, you are right, that’s it. But of course, yes, definitely, right”. And so forth. […] How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness.
For more on Dada, see Reluctant Scooper.