Bachelor of Ales

Class in a glass: Richard Brownhill admires a craft beer. ''''        Photograph: Paul David Drabble
Class in a glass: Richard Brownhill admires a craft beer. '''' Photograph: Paul David Drabble
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RICHARD Brownhill, manager at the Cellar Door pub in Beauchief, was less than impressed with his head chef recently.

“He was on holiday and he tweeted a picture under the caption ‘beer’,” says the 25-year-old. “It was a pint of Fosters. I thought: have I taught you nothing?”

Richard, you see, is on something of a mission.

He’s a real ale and craft beer obsessive, and every time he sees someone swill a pint of mass-made fizz a little piece of him dies inside.

“A good beer should be treated like wine,” he says earnestly. “You should sniff and sip; You should never just sling it down your neck.”

To that end, this Sheffield Hallam University history graduate (“a good degree for a bar manager”) has just launched what he believes is Sheffield’s first Beer Club.

He will host monthly meets where enthusiasts can smell, sample and sup (and learn the history of) a range of obscure and lesser-known brews from across Sheffied and the world. Food – specifically matched to each ale – will be served. There are plans to organise brewery tours, pub visits and create a membership scheme.

And those beers themselves? Pale ales and porters, blondes and browns, stouts and saisons. And if you’re really lucky there might be the Heather Honey Imperial Stout.

“That’s £9.30 a pint,” says Richard who lives in Abbeydale Road. “It’s delicious but it’s 10 per cent proof so it’s...solid. We serve it in thirds. Although on new year one chap had a couple of pints.”

There’s some unusual ingredients go into some of those beers too. Lactose, anyone? “You tell people you have a milky beer and their face drops but when they taste it, they understand. It’s called Pollards, and it’s like iced coffee. Only nicer.”

The club itself will run on the first Monday of every month from February 4.

Initially, it will be based solely at the Cellar Door but, if it strikes as chord, there are those plans to expand it to other pubs across the city.

“We’re out of the city here and sometimes it can be quiet during the week,” explains Richard who has run the pub since April. “So the original idea came about as a way of getting new people down. But it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and, if it goes well, we’ll be looking at starting a membership scheme where we put on special tours to breweries, and perhaps set up a card scheme where, after trying nine different beers, you might get a 10th free.”

That’s for the future.

For now, Richard is raising a glass. “Remember to sip it,” he says, lovingly.

His head chef might not quite be on board yet – but beer’s hoping the venture is a success.

Beer before wine...

Beer tasting is the new wine sipping, so they say.

It’s nicer. You may disagree with this but think on a single fact: the only thing we drink more of than beer in the UK is water.

It’s patriotic. Nice beers come from all over but Britain (and Sheffield) does ale especially well.

By contrast, you don’t get many vineyards in South Yorkshire.

It goes with cheese. “Wine actually masks flavours,” says Richard. “The right beers complement.”