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How The Old Shoe is bringing a fresh drinking experience to Sheffield

Exposed discovers how The Old Shoe, a thriving craft beer taproom, ciderhouse and artisan wine bar, is leading the charge to bring exceptional drinks experiences to the city centre.

“Our primary mission is to serve great drinks in a great setting,” says Mike Pomranz, co-owner of The Old Shoe. “We want to get people involved in enjoying good drinks, and I said from day one that my overall goal is to offer the best drinks selection in England.”

It’s been just over three months since Mike and co-owner Matthew Beety, custodian of The Bear on Abbeydale Road, opened the doors to their vision of the ideal city centre drinks experience: 20 rotating taps (three of which are cider and one will soon be wine), two cask, an expanding spirits range, a selection of lovingly crafted soft drink concoctions and a comprehensive list of artisan wines.

Old Shoe

Throw in the fact the Orchard Square bar boasts its own in-house microcidery, Exemption Ciderhouse, crafting cider from foraged Sheffield apples, and you’ve got the makings of something not only unique in the Steel City but across the country as a whole. “That idea of creating something genuinely different, offering the most diverse range of drinks possible, is very important to us,” explains Mike, who has two decades of experience as a food and drink writer under his belt. He was also the mastermind behind Sheffield’s first micro-ciderhouse, The Cider Hole, which opened in 2021. “I want this place to be like a psychedelic awakening for people, where they can step out of their comfort zone and try something different, experiment with different tastes and flavours.”

While the drinks selection at The Old Shoe speaks volumes, Matt adds that it’s the experience of enjoying them that helps set their establishment apart. “It’s a team effort and our staff are fantastic. We spend a lot of time focusing on how we want our service to look and sound: friendly and patient, helping you to feel comfortable in trying a few tasters before you buy. We want people to take their time and find the right drink. If someone sits down with a drink they don’t like, we’ve done something wrong. That’s the mentality.”

Matt and Mike are keen to impress how collaboration is key to success. While their fingerprints are clearly visible across both the drinks list and overarching ethos of the business, they are quick to acknowledge the vital contributions of general manager Nath and their skilled sommelier and soft drink technician, Tom. By pooling their shared experience and passions, they’ve created a multi-pronged approach, ticking a variety of boxes and “continuing to build in all directions,” as Mike puts it.

Old Shoe

Another important collaboration working out nicely is that between The Old Shoe and the Sheffield public. The reception from Sheffielders has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, affirming the team’s endeavours to continue redefining the drinking experience in the city.

“Credit to Sheffield for embracing us early on,” says Mike. “Because of that support, we can keep this vision going. We can still keep rotating our draught lines, we still don’t serve any mass-produced beers and we still have 12 different rotating wines by the glass. People are coming in and trying different things; we’re hitting all our targets and it keeps the show very much on the road.”

Even the most positive advocate will concede that times are tricky for Sheffield’s city centre at present. While the Heart of the City redevelopment continues apace and promises eventual dividends, significant areas of central Sheffield are either behind construction fences or struggling with footfall due to a myriad of reasons. However, the ongoing redevelopment of Orchard Square has widely been seen as a positive step in the right direction for retail in the centre, The Old Shoe being one of a growing number of Sheffield independents in the increasingly vibrant spot behind Fargate. Partnerships with nearby establishments, like Proove and Sheffield Plate, have created a sense of community and patrons now have the convenience of enjoying food from these venues via QR codes in the bar.

Old Shoe

Mike tells us that omens are good for the area. “There are a number of down-to-earth independent businesses here in Orchard Square now. They’re all trying to offer good quality experiences away from what the mass market companies provide. It’s refreshing.”

Matt concurs, adding: “Orchard Square feels like a bit of a haven in the city centre at the moment. And people have been telling us that it’s the sort of place that the city centre has been crying out for. I mean, look at us – we’re not a traditional pub. Sheffield has plenty of those. If anything, there’s more of a polished wine bar feel in terms of how it looks, but we’ve got wines, ciders, spirits, soft drinks and, of course, plenty of craft beers. The after-work trade has been growing as well, which is a particularly good sign.”

Interjecting on that point, Mike sums it all up neatly: “I mean, when you’ve worked hard all day, do you really want to go and spend £6.30 on a bad pint of Peroni?! Of course you don’t! And if you don’t, we’re here for you. People will go to Manchester and Leeds to visit good bars, so why can’t we give people places of that quality here? We’re honest and consistent with what we offer: good vinyl records, a great selection of drinks, fantastic service and a pleasant atmosphere. That will stay the same whether you walk in here on a Wednesday afternoon or a Saturday night.”

What’s on at The Old Shoe:

Old Shoe12th Nov: Textile Mending Workshop
16th Nov: Beaujolais Day
19th Nov: Vinyl Resurrection (bring your own LPs)
22nd Nov: Meet the Winemaker – Huxbear
5th-10th Dec: Stout Week
12th Dec: Meet the Cidermaker – Oliver’s

@theoldshoebar




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