TRAVEL REVIEW: Booze ’n’ snooze is the way to go

boozensnooze The Beauchief Hotel
boozensnooze The Beauchief Hotel
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Snoozing generally follows a bit of boozing.

For some, it’s on the bus home from the pub. Or on the sofa, well before the Saturday night film has finished.

In Sheffield, there’s now another way to enjoy this classic combo.

Booze and Snooze is the latest package treat at the Beauchief, the former Edwardian railway hotel now enjoying a new lease of life.

A local landmark that towers above the crossroads of Abbeydale Road South and Abbey Lane, it is a few miles from both Sheffield city centre and the stunning Derbyshire countryside.

It’s a good location for visitors. But why would a Sheffielder want to up toothbrush and ’jamas and pay to stay on their own doorstep?

Here’s the incentive: it’s also within a half-hour’s drive of Thornbridge Brewery, producer of award-winning real ales.

The hotel is owned by the BrewKitchen group,a partnership between respected Sheffield chef Richard Smith and the brewery, a melding of fine food and good beer.

They have come up with the Booze ‘n’ Snooze idea – you book into the Beauchief, head off to take a tour of Thornbridge Brewery, then come back for dinner in the hotel restaurant.

We tried it out and found the experience was like a naughty treat; you slip out your front door and head off for a wee bit of indulgence. But knowing you are not actually that far away from home if you’re needed kind of gives you permission.

Bedrooms at the Beauchief are simple but pleasant and well-equipped; we checked into ours, then dashed off for the afternoon brewery tour.

Even for non beer-drinkers like me, it was fascinating. The brewery site is a small industrial estate in Bakewell. It moved recently from outbuildings at Thornbridge Hall a hop and a skip away, where it was launched five years ago by hall owner and engineering boss Jim Harrison, husband of A4E’s Emma.

Jim started up as a hobby because he loves beer, but he was certainly on to something; real ale is now soaring in popularity, some 100 years after its decline. UK breweries numbered 3,000 in 1910, 77 in 1975 and 1,100 today.

The brewery has 29 employees, turns out 60 barrels a day, has won tons of awards and sells around the world.

Tours run twice a week, with marketing manager Alex Buchanan at the helm.

He’s a knowledgeable chap, full of enthusiasm for what he calls “our national drink, one more versatile than wine, yet so rarely written or talked about, mainly out of snobbery.”

The tour, normally £7.50, starts with beer-drinking to get you in the mood; Alex teaches us how to swirl the beer in the glass and sniff before sipping, to get the full aromas of the hops. “Anyone who says they don’t like beer hasn’t drunk the right one yet,” he says confidently.

Four ales in, we can indeed taste the subtleties and nuances he has described, have picked out favourites and are smiling broadly as we head off to see where they were made.

The brewery is like a mad professor’s lab, on a giant scale. It’s all vast, gleaming silver vats, overhead walkways, spiral staircases and mini production belts transporting neat rows of bottles.

We meet brewers who are such beer geeks they make home brew too, and leave with a hop in our step.

Back at the Beauchief, there’s time for a quick lie-down before we have dinner in the elegant dining room.

The service is as sublime as the food – dishes are dainty, flavour-packed works of art, created from top-quality, locally-sourced produce.

Highlights of the new autumn menu, developed by head chef Charlie Curran, run to rack of rabbit with charred carrots and leeks and Mallard duck with wild mushroom, fondant potato and a mini scotch egg.

And how great that no-one had to be designated driver; we could both enjoy that classy bottle of wine over dinner, and a late-night beer – Thornbridge, of course – in the bar before climbing the stairs to bed.

The next morning, after a fabulous breakfast, we were back home in 20 minutes.