The Brown Bear is a pub. A pub’s pub. A proper pub. It is the no frills pub of pubs. It is a five star boozer.
A drinker’s pub. No music. No telly. No real choice of beers – well, you can have anything you want, actually, as long as it is Sam Smith’s Old Brewery. End of. And no food – except a choice of crisps, and even that isn’t very wide-ranging.
What it does have is character. In spades.
The Brown Bear (there was a bear-baiting pit in Sheffield, and it still exists, not so far away in the Botanical Gardens) has been here for a couple of hundred years. It is something of a survivor, given the pasting this part of the city took during the Second World War. The square-set Georgian building, with a fine pediment above the single door, with the public bar to the right and the lounge to the left.
In the public bar (once a couple of snugs) there are a pair of big old fireplaces, sadly neither of them ablaze with good cheer when we popped in. But the pint was lovely, and the regulars, heads burrowed in newspapers, clearly occupy the same seats every day of the week.
Those interested in lagers should understand that the only ones on offer are again from Sam Smith’s own brands. And they make a change from Foster’s, that’s for sure. Service is commendably swift.
Lots of pictures on the walls of Sheffield in past times, and… well, that’s about it, really. It is, in effect, like stepping back about 50 (or more) years. The Brown Bear is basic, but it is a strangely beautiful basic. And, you sense, very proud of that fact.
The Brown Bear, Norfolk Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 2JE. 0114 2727744.