Monday, 15 July 2019

SunFest 2019

Hello,

             I have been going to Sun Fest for over ten years now - certainly for all the years that Abbeydale have been based at the excellent Rising Sun in Nethergreen in Sheffield, and certainly since their "First annual beer festival" in 2007, according to the glass I have collecting dust on my bedroom window sill. Am even sure that some of the staff volunteering at this years festival may have worked at the long ago Moon Fest, or fests, when Abbeydale briefly owned the pub before and now again called the Office, in Upperthorpe. This year, momentary madness and a recent return to work have rendered me a trifle funds free, but I still got up on Thursday last for the first public session.

Having walked into work I was a little tired when Malc asked me if I was attending. I advised him that my lack of funds was a good indication that I wouldn't be, however a kind friend lent me a few and after a couple of post work starters in the hot sunshine I set off about half past four to walk through Sheffield and up to the Rising Sun, which took me about one hour and fifteen minutes . I sat with Richard S, Bex and Richard H, and started on a third of Abbeydale Cyro Huxter, a fab soupy IPA brewed with Peddler market, and an ideal starter at 6.0%. During my sup I went to see Malc and Ally, although as I know she prefers dark beers I didn't offer her a taste. Bumping into Dan and Robin from the brewery and a number of folks from Shakespeares and the Crow, it was obvious there was much interest in the beer list, and later attendees can confirm that my starter did not last that long.

The next boozes tried from the list were Black Iris chasing the Sun, a fab 6.5% murky, Juicy IPA, later followed by rain showers, along with Crosspool Ale Makers society Delph House, a similarly strong IPA but with more traditional flavours, and the absolutely excellent Turning Point Brew Co 6.2% Off the grid IPA, like the first two significantly vegan friendly, and made with excellent Simcoe, Cascade and Chinook. I also tried some of my fellow guests Unbeliever 8.1 Mango and Lychee kettle sour, along with Box Social Blood Eagle at 4.2%, an excellent hazy dry hopped pale, and the absurdly strong Methusula Rum barrel aged imperial stout which was incredible.

Dan and other Abbeydale folk came round with free tasters of their 4.5% keg lager, which I understand is being sold to a number of local restaurants, and I tried some Brew York Tonkoko which was a strong flavoured 4.3% coconut milk stout. I soon moved onto the "evil keg" section, as nobody rational called it, and enjoyed the excellent St Mars of the dessert Endless Toil  brewed with Hop Hideout, along with an equally marvelous Arbour Ales Space Hardware IPA at a lovely 6.6%. I also tried a third of the Abbeydale and Thornbridge Black IPA  RITA at 6.0%, which was very enjoyable. I may have finished on either a third of the 9% out of sight strong pale ale with a wonderful selection of hops, frim Manchester's Track Brewing, and possibly a Wilde Child wheel of fortune at 4.7%, a heavily hopped pale packed with Summit, Eureka and Simcoe hops. This mesmerising intake of resin was, throughout the festival, perfectly supported by marvelously tasty snacks from a wonderful person who had brought some to keep us sober during our libations. I left about 21.30 to catch a bus back to town and home, filled to the brim with wonderful tastes and memories.

Interestingly I overheard a discussion in a venue yesterday from a Sunday or Saturday attendee , claiming that there was too much Abbeydale produce. This is an interesting suggestion, given that the pub is owned, and the festival run and organiseded by, the very same. Someone had apparently said it was "all Abbeydale", but in a moment of geeky knowledge searching  I can confirm that even if you dismissed the statement I made above, of a total of 103 listed beers, only 27 were Abbeydale, which if perhaps high, is also admittedly less than a quarter. And, also, why not? A beer festival is a great way to try out new beer styles, and their percentage of involvement I think justifies their provision of a higgh number of, lets face it, numerously different styles (they also did some very low gravity, almost alcohol free brews) of boohar, in an excellent location.  

Well done once again to all involved in this excellent celebration of beers and sunshine at yet another excellent Sun Fest at the Rising Sun.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Coventry

Hullabalo,

       this weekend was my first ever trip to Coventry in the West midlands, on a quick tour with Ws Keet and Fatha. As we were in effect taking Fatha for a break we didn't plan to visit a lot of pubs but we visited a few, and here is what we found.

We stayed at the Days Inn near town, a pleasant, if not slightly odd venue with a bizarre mix of staff and where you had to ask for a new card every half an hour since they stopped working, a bizarre situation which they claimed existed in all top class hotels....that kind of puts the kaibosh on my experience of room key cards not expiring at any stage over the last few years, but what do I know...

On our way to Coventry we stopped at Sutton Stop by a junction in/at the end of, the Coventry canal, for a lunch and a pint in the Greyhound. Myself and WF were on draught Bass and WK was on a potential Springhead beer, and having put up a giant standing umberella WK and F were sat in the shade of the hot sunshine, whilst I was sat very much within it. The food came quickly and was excellent and the Bass was a long missed, and enjoyed supping option, in a great place to stop.

Once in Coventry we walked into town, pushing Wee Fatha, to the cathedral before wandering back after a look at the older buildings on Spon Street, before heading off to the Hook Norton owned Anchor in Leek Wooton to meet the relatives. The pub served four or five beers including Old Hooky an Purity Mad Goose, and the food was very enjoyable too.

After a quick trip nearby we headed back to the Hotel before me and WK headed out for a last one. We started near Spon street in the Gatehouse Tavern where I had an excellent pint of Church End pale at 5.5% and WK tried a mild which had just run out so he didn't have to pay for it. From here we walked down just in time to try out the Town Hall Tavern with its uniquely small Donkey Bar and a range of real ales including Adnams Broadside which I had. Brilliant music, well decorated and packed with friendly locals this was our final stop and our pub of the day.

The next day, a little colder, we headed to the cathedral once again having not got in previously, and WF treated us to a meal in a cafe underneath. After a now expensive trip to the nearby transport museum we wandered out of the city centre to the Twisted Barrel Brewery and Tap House. On arriving it was a lively atmosphere but we got a table and bought beers for all, a bitter for WF, a Rye IPA and Pixel Juice from Twisted Barrel for Keith, and two thirds of a 6.5% NEIPA from the same for me. We also tried some Obsidian sky, and Citra Fog from Burnt mill amongst other excellent beers from a choice of over twenty on keg. In addition to the above they had numerous other beers in can and bottle, and this helped make this perhaps the pub of the trip.

After a wander back to town we went for a Korean meal before wandering up to the Gatehouse, to show WF. Am not sure who brewed what I had but I know it was an Indian pale ale, and the Ws were on Church End and another local brewery beer. As we were leaving the landlord came and thanked us for visiting, before recommending we visit the Old Windmill on Spon street nearby.  Coventry's oldest pub did not disappoint, with four or five real ales on including an over 5% porter from the local Backdykes brewery that I tried. The beers were well kept and once again the locals were friendly, making this an excellent end to our visit.

I fancy a return trip to try out a few more pubs in Coventry in the future, but for now the six that we tried in the two days were all excellent boozers, with an interesting range of both traditional and more unusual beers on offer.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

    

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Gibraltar and West Bar Triangle

Hello,

      suffice to say I have been a trifle unclear on what the name of this section of my living actually is. I asked both Lucienne and Chris at the Shakespeares as well as the folks at the Crow and Bar Stewards, what they thought the "scene" thought the area of all three was called. In the end two different answers were supplied, hence the oddness of the title. This uncertainty luckily deprives nothing from my second, third and forth homes in fab sunny Sheffield...

As you all know I have been drinking in Shakespeares on Gibraltar Street regularly since 2011. This was, a few days before the Robin Hood at little Matlock closed, the day the Shakespeares reopened, after Red House Jeff left and William bought it. I met the lovely Tash about two years later and have been going in Shakespeares at least four times a month ever since, including for my fortieth birthday party, with a wonderful cake from Ally. I admit I met someone from the poetry group up at the Cross Keys in there once, and Andy the DJ on the same night, probably about 2009, and I did once pop in with Abz around 1994, but since 2011 it has become one of my and my friends favourite pubs, selling some of the most amazing halves and pints and thirds of excellent ale in cask from the past, keg, bottle, and can, along with a wonderful selection of gins, whiskies and wines, served by some of the finest bar staff I have ever met. This makes me very pleased that it is the longest visited of the three excellent venues on the trail....

Across the road is the Bar Stewards micro pub and bottle bar. Although I missed their opening night I soon went in when the bar was on the left, which may have been in November or so 2016. After many original one off opening nights to sample their original choice of cask ales from the barrel, the bar was soon changed over a month and now appears facing you as you enter with  boards advertising both the cask as well as the keg guests, along with their regular cider and lagers, and which points you to their two fridges containing a frankly mahoosive slab of wonderful IPAs, pale ales, sours, stouts, lagers, DIPAs and other items of wonderment. As a regular drinker in there for a good few years am very happy to find that my third home, complete with excellent bajis and samosas, is the next feature on this wonderful trio of excellent pubs.

The last venue to feature is the newly opened Crow Inn on Scotland street - here is a link to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheCrowInn/  which is one of many sites sharing information on keg and cask ales for you to choose from. Crucially they also serve Kevins pies, which I may have indulged in at the Closed Shop when I used to go in when it was run by Andy Stephens. Sadly, the earlier versions featured misplacement of an apostrophe, but regular readers will know that I am also involved in a lack of knowledge in the same respect so I think I may never have mentioned it....

The pub is owned by Wendy who used to own the Harlequin (I think...) and work at Shakespeares, and is run by Chris Bamford and David from the Rutland and Adam from Dronfiled - since that is where everyone knows he comes from....

There are five real ale handpumps selling a range including Abbeydale Daily Bread plus many locally produced and further afield guests, and it also has ten keg lines, along with a barrel load of excellent cans and bottles in the fridge, to add to an excellent gin rum and whisky list. I admit I went in the former Crown Inn a number of times in the naughties but have never bothered with Sleep as a venue before. I now find myself ordering a range of excellent cask and keg drinks and cans, whilst sitting in the small but wonderfully formed beer garden, often with friends, often in bright sunshine, or being inside enjoying the artwork on the walls in the two seating areas.  

Am pleased to say that three of my favourite Sheffield pubs have been joined in a double named, shape featuring caravan of excellent trade in an area currently changing and improving very well indeed. I know that some people I know well have never visited the Crow so I would strongly insist that you do, and then, hopefully, also attend the other two parts of the triangle, Bar Stewards and Shakespeares, thus enjoying three excellent Sheffield boozers in one go.

Cheers!!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 1 July 2019

Pilcrow

Hulloo,

        back in 2013, the happiest year of my life, and prior to heading off on my last holiday to Crete, I brewed a porter on cask from the past at Blue Bee brewery, with Jonathan Stanley Brothwell, Chris Wadsworth, Chris Bamford, Alex Corner and Robin Baker. I tried said brew in my second home and on one of my first nights out at the same with the wonderful Tash. For completely unrelated reasons, naturally, I went for the first time to the Pilcrow pub in Manchester with a trade ticket to their summer beer thing. And here is what happened.....
 
Its a few years since I went to this part of Manchester. This related lack of knowledge about where Sadlers yard actually was, is a fact I found out by asking two random blokes in a similarly obscured yard nearby,  and by following the sound of music near one of too many Co-op buildings. It was hot and very busy when I arrived. My ticket was read from my phone, and I purchased ten tokens, and sat down at a table in the sunshine with two Manchester beer scene experts, whom had names, and everything, and supped my first beer, a 6.5% sour IPA from an American brewery. Alas I did not download nor find a list of the beers, so an element of guesswork must exist. So no changes there then....  

Whilst chatting with these two Mancunian beer experts, who may, or may not, have worked for Marble, I noticed that as well as a session beers bar, there were also two bars entitled hops and more hops. I noticed that it sold a number of DIPAs, and having mis-anticipated a limited selection of oozingly bitter hop feasts I was pleased to discover that I would mostly be drinking DIPAs all day. As a tall man from Wander beyond turned up with his other half, colleague and yet another Manchestershire brewer, I moved onto a half of Boundary and Cloudwater, the taste limits went up and the talking took off once more.

About three o clock my current joiners opted to move off, not least am sure because some had been there since twelve, and I had the table to myself for a while. A young couple who may, or equally may not, have been from Bury, (the lass lived nearby I can now remember) came and joined me and I went into the actual Pilcrow pub to use their facilities, and went and grabbed some scran - curywurst sausages, onions and what may have been dill (alas I forget), served on chips covered in spicy dressing and absolutely delicious, served from one of the bars at the top end of the do.

With two beers left I tried a further DIPA and having been very kindly given some much needed sun cream I went and sat in the last of the now disappearing sunshine with a bloke who looked after my beer, and then with the wonderful Jules from Sheffield. She recommended I tried a third of the Black Iris and Track, or others, triple IPA at 10.5%. At 17.00 I bought my last drink and chatted with Jules about that and my other daily exploits and my plans for the remaining three hours. Meanwhile a DJ played some absolutely brilliant music whilst the young suppers sat in the last of the seating splashed in the last of the sunshine. Finishing my tenth third I went to hand my glass back and was told I could keep it - so three and a half hours or so after getting there I walked out happy from my first visit to the Pilcrow and headed to the Smithfield.

When we went there in 2012 myself and Scott and friends didn't particularly enjoy the pub but me and Tash did in 2013 and things appear to be much better since the year before that - I had a pint of excellent pale ale about 5.5% along with a range of, I think, thirteen keg beers, before I sat in a small chair with a table under some stairs enjoying my beer and thinking about where I should go next. This turned out to be the excellent Crown and Kettle, and I had a half of Wilde Child sour and another half on cask from the past along with an excellent pork pie to top up my lining! My final stop was in a completely packed Port Street Beer House, who may well have organised the Summer Beer Thing along with Indy Man Beer Con folks, and I got a lovely pint and a table to myself since everyone else was enjoying sitting or standing outside in the warmth!

Having thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and now being able to remember where to find it, I may revisit the Pilcrow following Indy Man Beer Con if I can go - Pilcrow is a wonderful venue, with excellent beers, and knowledgeable and friendly fellow drinkers, which I would highly recommend you visit.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Saint Mars of the Desert

Eh oop,

     despite living only twenty minutes away. the following is a description of only my first and second visits to this excellent new brewery and tap room situated in Attercliffe on Stevenson Road, near the seals and bearings factory, and other names. On pay day I walked to the cash machine and caught a bus to the second stop in Attercliffe, crossed what was Carlton road, and headed long Stevenson Road until I spotted the brewery and its wonderful tap room in a small building at the back of a yard next to a learning centre.

The tap room is exactly as excellent as it looks on their website, which is perhaps better represented by an Instagram link at https://www.instagram.com/beerofsmod/ . Three to six beers are available all on keg with many available to take away in cans. Being an author, or whitterer at least, I started on a pint of their excellent 3.5% beer, which had a name, a fact my handful of photographs fails to remind me of. It was a wonderful yellow orange and was served in a fab branded glass, and was pleasurably cloudy.

Many of the features of their beers may come from their use of a Coolship, a drinks storage and cooling vessel which Andy Cullen and others may have written about. This partially inspired my next choice, along with an excellent pork pie, and sat on one of the tables close to the bar. Again, another gloriously soupish beer, possibly called Bam Bam, 5.5% and featuring, I think, olicana hops. But what are facts anyway? Like birds, we will never know...

Koel it followed, as did a visit by Ted from the Itchy Pig in Broomhill with his son, and I continued to enjoy the hoppy wonderfulness of their wares whilst Dan and Martha, or people with other names, continued tending their brewery and beers and tap room. I got chatting to the owners and ordered another pint of Bam Bam. Dan is an American chap with brewing experience, Martha is an English lass who moved to the US years ago before meeting Dan and travelling with him at first to France, and them to the wonders of beer in Sheffield, late last year. I think both consider that opening in January or February was perhaps the wrong time of year, but they became involved in Sheffield Beer Week in March, and things have moved on ever since. I first saw some pics of the taproom in February from friends on Faceache and things have gone from good to better there after.

I returned at 12.00 or so on Saturday, once again supping Bam Bam, along with their 7.8% or so porter called Barbar papa, and sat outside in the warm sunshine meeting visitors from near and far. This included a young couple with a kid whose wedding party I had been down from in Shakespeares, and a couple from Manchester who had names, one of whom was from Cornwall, with whom I discussed the Indy Man Beer Con. On a better still note I met up with my friend Michael, and we had an excellent catch up and a chat about his walk to the tap room along the canal, which am told is not that far away.

Despite receipt of recently ordered labels I did not treat myself to any cans of take out but I did stop for a number of enjoyable drinks in this fabulous Sheffield bar serving excellent pints and scran. Wishing the folks of the desert the very best for the future, and I will see you soon!

Cheers!

Wee Beefy  

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Fathers day wander

Urllor,

      last Sunday it was Fatha's day so myself and Wee Keefy treated dad to a trip out to one of our favourite pubs and a look at one of his favourite places. We originally aimed to go out for a wander a drink and an evening meal but WK picked me up at 12.30 and by 14.30, following finding a frustratingly close road closure, and an amble down a track, we arrived at our destination.

The Yew Tree is at Cauldon in Staffordshire near Waterhouses, and we have been going for fifteen or so years. Our first visit was following a meal in Elton and a drive through the Manifold Valley to find the pub packed - with both customers, and a frankly huge range of unspoilt antiques. Run by a gent called Alan, a number of visits followed, including many a pork pie, many a photograph (with his permission) and numerous playing and research into the many Polyphones. Alan used to provide pre decimal coins to slip into the ancient machines, and to step back and enjoy the process of their workings. I will always remember seeing Alan doing this by himself, with an almost child like smile on his face.

Beers wise it used to be Burton Bridge - it still is, Bass, and a mild. There were two beers on when we arrived and we all went for Burton Bridge best bitter.  There was also a strong pale ale called something beginning with W, I think, and along with the two pints of Burton Bridge the ale was once again fantastic. The pub also serves food until 8 or 9PM, and although WF had a large pork pie myself and WK treated ourselves to large dinners, which we scoffed whilst sitting in the room with the pews on your left.

About five or more years ago I understand Alan became quite unwell, indeed, apart from our last visit a couple of years ago my recent visits had found the pub closed. A revisit with Wee Fatha found the pub once again open and being run, it seemed, by Alan's daughter and her husband. This time he was likely in the kitchen, but it was great to see Alan back behind the bar serving beers and taking orders. After a lengthy chat about routes with a local resident from Foxt, we finished our drinks and headed up the road to his village and then down into the valley on the other side of the hill.

Froghall is a small village in the Churnet Valley and after a brief trip to the railway station we parked up in the car park where the lime kilns and tea shop were, before taking WF for a wander around the canal in his wheelchair. The canal can be followed to a tunnel and the track then veers off so we turned round then, but not before a slow trek round some large and relaxing pools, before WF headed to the loos and we made plans to head off.

Heading back up the hill we drove through Foxt once again before heading for Grindon, now no longer visibly having what may have been called the Cavalier or loyal trooper, before heading down into the Manifold Valley and up to Wetton and down again, before coming out at Hume End and driving through Hartington. We finally stopped in Youlgreave, and decided that despite having already eaten we would make a first time stop at the Farmyard Inn.

We left WF in the car whilst we checked they were serving food before pushing him through the car park and along the road before getting in and taking a table in a small room on the right. Me and WK were both on pints of Landlord if memory serves, from a range of three beers, only one of which was a Greedy King ale for one of their pubs. Following our recent Greedy King disaster at the Phoenix am pleased to say that we enjoyed our visit, the ale and the food very much. Strange that so many such pubs find politeness and availability of beer and food so very complicated.

We got back to WFs about 21.00 and dropped him off before heading to our homes having thoroughly enjoyed our lengthy day out in Staffordshire and Derbyshire, in two cracking boozers. Long may the quality of both stay around for many more years!

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 17 June 2019

Cross Keys reopens, and other news.....

Hulloo,

    the first thing to tell you is I have been in hospital, for just over 4 weeks, following a serious hypo and fall. Suffice to say I was quite unwell, but now escaped am finding that things are getting better. It isn't something I want to go through again however, and am now checking my blood sugar more carefully and eating more healthily.

About three months ago I overheard a conversation in a pub, and another on the bus into town, suggesting that the recently closed Cross Keys on Handsworth was to reopen, as a pub selling real ales and kegs. I have been going there on and off for twenty years so I was interested to find out more, although I have to say I found it surprising, Handsworth has had some good pubs, and still has the Old Crown heading down the hill, but in all my time there I have never thought of it as a place to go out trying different beers.

I found a link on Faceache showing purchase or takeover of the pub by Chantry Brewery, a Rotherham based operation whose beers I first tried about four years ago at the Rutland Arms. Work was done sorting out the interior and Chantry beers were chosen and appeared to sell well when they opened a month or more ago. With this in mind I decided to pop in for one last night.

I first went in the Cross Keys in 1999. It was a tidy traditional pub selling two or three beers, one of which was Taylors Landlord and the other Stones, if memory serves. The pub closed in the noughties following a landlord being beaten up and the pub trashed, and then it was taken over by a bloke who may have been called Carl - he was there for a few years and reintroduced real ale before leaving, and another few couples have tried keeping the pub since, presumably with some success. Myself and Tash often went in on a Sunday and it was usually busy, and I also went in a few New Years Eves. What would the now named Chantry Inn do?

Arriving after 18.00 there were 4 or 5 real ales and 4 kegs including two lagers, Lawless Village IPA (gluten free methinks) and Tiny Rebel Tropicana IPA. I had a pint of Kaldo at 5.5% and £3.00 a pint and sat down in the room where the main bar is. The pub was not too busy, the beer was well kept, and there were people sat in all three rooms. The Kaldo was also easy to drink and didn't last long, so I went for half a tiny Rebel which is a fiver a pint on keg, and a packet of bacon fries.

I left after this short visit, but I intend on going back. This is the best selection of beers I have seen in Handsworth, and the prices are very reasonable. The pub looked clean and was welcoming and the whole visit was enjoyable - well done to Chantry for reopening and revitalising a traditional Handsworth Boozer....

The other thing to tell you is that I went out for a walk on Bank Holiday Monday with WK, and afterwards we picked WF up to take him for a meal. Knowing as we do the potential horrors of pub openings and treatment of whether bank holiday Monday is that, or a Sunday, or neither, we did not expect much success, and despite ringing the Old Poets Corner in Ashover (hopefully with the right number) a number of times we got no response. That said, I checked their website and they did seem to do food Mondays, so it seemed like the trek out there may be worth it - I am happy to confirm it very much was.

Arriving just after seven we parked in the back and I headed to the bar to enquire - alas, I accidentally trod on a dog's paw en route, so I was probably quite unpopular, but took more care coming back to the car to inform the food details, before coming back to order drinks for myself WK and WF and to grab a menu. Once WF had safely arrived we sat at a table near the front door and looked at the Monday menu before making our order. I was on Oakham Citra and it was fantastic, WF was on a Titanic porter and WK a single pint of the  Ashover. We ordered three as it turned out gigantic meals before I got another pint and a half an Ashover whilst WK transferred to soft drink.

Its fair to say that WF is a slow eater these days so even though he left through the front it was nearly 21.45 when we finally left, but this did not spoil our visit one bit. One thing that is also worth pointing out is that my dad approves of company, especially dogs and owners, and he was once again listened to and treated with respect by all those he encountered. We probably only go to the Poets twice or three times a year but this was yet another example of why we keep going back time and time again.

Well done to both venues for providing an excellent place to visit, eat, and supp in.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Aye Robot

"Av come in ere fr a parnt er Bansly bitter...

Aye

Aye

Aye...

Wiv me dog Gloria, aye, aye....

Aye...."

As with all writings on pub characters, I am significantly enough concerned to confirm that sine I thought of the pun in the title, I haven't seen this man, or indeed his hound, in about three months. Just like I have not seen 60s Clive, or whatever moniker I attributed to him, after my write up of his bizarre hobby of dragging his semi conscious incontinent Mother out with him, ironically, also to drink Barnsley Bitter (and then three pints of cider in half an hour), before his Mother lost interest/the will to live/control of her bowels. Am not suggesting for one moment that there is a link between my musings, strange folk, and Stancil Barnsley Bitter, am simply making an observation...

I have spotted the AR a number of times over a period of many years. I usually spot him in the Gardeners Rest, but have also encountered him in the Kelham Island Tavern and Shakespeares. He has a simultaneously intense yet distracted face, is plainly dressed, and always sups his favoured brown liquid with his dog in tow. I have never paid much attention to the hound but am fairly sure its the same one I have been seeing him with since day one, so it must be getting on a bit. He, meanwhile, is ageless. Which given how tiresome and frustrating his Aye symphony can become, is perhaps ironic.

Last year myself and friend Owen encountered him in Shakespeares. So amusing and yet maudlin was his repetition that we chose to sit outside in the cold to avoid him. However, unlike the troubling drunk with the shitting woman, he is, in fact, entirely harmless. I also heard rumours, and just that, suggesting that he lost his wife to a car accident many years ago, and has never got over it. If that is the case then I feel this once more demonstrates the succourable qualities embedded in the pub environment, although, that in itself is a subject for another post methinks...

To wear my psychological cap for a moment, I do think that the chap suffers from an affliction - mental or social - which inescapably defines the manner in which he espouses not so much this thoughts, but a carefully preplanned, perhaps oft rehearsed,  sonnet of simple phrases. This of course, could be triggered by a deep loss. But as I have probably pointed out previously, I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist.....

One of the things I find odd about this affliction is that having found no response to or started a conversation with his two phrases, and possibly having given up his every ten second repetition of the word "aye" the bloke will often, without warning, let out a long and entirely singular aye, almost to remind us that he is still there. Often, when people glance over in surprise, this prompts a question to a usually younger or more nervous looking member of the pub's throng of drinkers, although this unfortunately does nothing to lessen their already palpable shyness, and the aye symphony restarts once again like a forward wound tape reel. If dogs weren't allowed in the pubs I drink in I imagine he would not be in, so it is therefore also notable that the existence of another dog is the final strand at which he swipes, in order to have a more personal symphony of communicative dysfunctionality with.

He does not stick around more than a couple of hours, usually finding that repeating his phrases and the word aye about twenty times is doing nothing to ameliorate his situation, nor to address his perhaps significant needs. He also never says goodbye - even though he already says the second half of it. And have never seen him catch a bus. If you like me are an observer, you will have seen him, am sure...

And heard the word aye.

Aye

Aye....

With regards

Beefolot.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Two new ones and two old ones.

Hulloo,

    Its much more likely these days that I will visit a newly opened venue than revisit an old haunt, especially given the searing pace at which Sheffield's beer scene is evolving and expanding. In the past fortnight however I have, amongst rather too many, visited an old pub new to me, a new pub in an existing licensed venue which was also new to me, and revisited two pubs that had previously gone somewhat daarn ill....

Nearly two weeks ago, prior to the first venue,  I caught the bus up to Heeley and visited the Brothers Arms, which has remained a cracking boozer, and where I had a pint of Bad Seed Imperial lager, sat outside in their wonderful beer garden, enjoying the fabulous cloud patterns in the sky, and, of course, the beer. I then nipped to the Sheaf View where I had a pint of Neepsend and Lost Industry Spruce Almighty on cask, and a half of their dry hopped sour shutter speed on keg. The Shutter Speed was served flat, which didn't suggest it was OK at all, although upon finding out it was a sour the aroma and flavours, when mixed with the dry hopping, made more sense. Evidence I should read beer labels more carefully methinks! I also caught up with Jon and Mandy in the continuously excellent White Lion, next, and had two excellent pints of Abduction, sat in the snug on the left, before getting a taxi to Jabeerwocky.

This new bar is housed in the former Bar Ambassada PL on London Road, a Polish venue. There is still a similar theme to some of the beers sold and Eastern European dishes feature on the excellent food menu. I discovered whilst reading up on the venue after visiting that it is owned or run by Chris who used to be manager at the Bath Hotel. I got to know Chris whilst visiting there and it was ages ago that I spotted him in Bar Stewards (or he me) and he, probably, told me about his new venture. I understand that his partner is in charge of sourcing the food. This puts an extra glint on my single visit, where although the card machine wasn't working, I still had a pint of Gipsy Hill Partizan Pale on keg, and a meal which I often eat at the Czech run Old Queens Head, the name of which currently escapes me. The food was delicious (and much needed), as was the beer, so I will definitely be arranging a return visit soon.

Early last week I was catching up with the wonderful Tash and after meeting in town for a wander and some shopping we decided to pop into the Roebuck on Charles Street, now renamed (perhaps recently?) as the Roebuck Tavern and Kitchen. I used to go in here in the nineties, ended up there during quite a few team nights out in the Noughties, and gave it a go when it was owned by Wood Street Brewery (now no more). The last time I went in was probably three or four years ago and it was fairly terrible. Walking past, we saw boards advertising craft (shudder) beers and food from Yorkshire, and were swung by it's promise to serve proper Yorkshire fishcakes, not rissoles....

On entering there seems to have been a subtle redecoration, and true to their claim the beers on cask did seem to be from Yorkshire - I didn't check them all though as I noticed they had Blue Bee Centennial IPA on at 5.0% so went for a pint of that and a large glass of white for Tash. We tried sitting inside on some stools next to a shelf but there was a red hot radiator on right next to the seats so we headed out onto the terrace for a more comfortable drink and a catch up.

The Blue Bee was a little odd - it was not off but seemed to somehow taste like two separate concoctions. Knowing the breweries wares as I do I was unconvinced that this was how they had intended the beer to taste, but it was palatable so I decided not to mention it.

I did however go inside to the obviatorium, and found there was no working hand drier and the cold tap was rammed firmly and fully on and un-turn-off-able. I managed to turn my tap off with some wrangling so when I went past the bar I pointed out that the tap was on full and couldn't be turned off and that there was no working hand drier. The response I received encapsulated a complaint made by my friend Dougie about younger people being unable to apologise. He had encountered dire service and rooms at an expensive hotel and the starlet behind the counter had said thankyou, instead of, for example, "am really sorry to hear that", or, "we will knock something off your bill, or give you a voucher", or similar. The response to my reporting the above was met with "thanks for letting us know". Well, thanks back. I will go and sit outside with my wet hands whilst your bathroom fills with water. Its such a shame that getting two basic features of a pub right eluded the people at the Roebuck, especially when their beer range has improved and their food sounds very tempting.

The Saturday before I had gone to the Grindstone in Crookes with WK and many of his and our friends to finish his birthday celebrations. I had started drinking in this pub in 1991 when it was still owned by Wards. It was the first and only place I ever tasted Wards Kirby Ale, and also the first place I read Beer Matters magazine. Its fair to say that as well as a different number of previous reputations, the pub has since also had a number of different owners, and rumours that Greedy King were going to sell it may or may not have ousted, perhaps the third management team to walk out and leave the pub closed in the last couple of years. Whether related or not this pub is now owned by Stancill.

Arriving at 22.45 on a Friday night we expected the pub to open til 23.30 or midnight, in line with other venues in Crookes but after my half jokingly telling Wee Keefy to hurry up, they called last orders  at 22.55, with the pub already starting to empty by 23.20. I know that in the last thirty years most pubs used to shut at this time but things have surely moved on? That said, although the keg was expensive, all the real ales were £2.50 a pint so I had a couple of pints of Stancill India Ale, and sat around a giant table in a bay window with the gang. In effect we didn't really spend long enough to make a detailed assessment but if nothing else, at least its open, and out of Greedy King's hands....

My final stop was yesterday in Penistone, a place I have only been to the pub in once before. Myself and WK walked from Royd Moor in the warm Easter Sunday sunshine and knowing their beer festival was on we stopped for a couple of halves each in the White Heart, who were hosting the free festival, before walking back to the car. WK tried a half of the Penistone Amber (I think) and I the same brewery's Back Oil stout which had a very distinctive and overpowering burnt taste to it. WK then had a half of Ashover Font which was excellent and myself a Fernandes Blue something, which was very enjoyable. The beers at the festival are all £3.20 a pint but I am told that normally in the bar all the beers are £4.00 a pint, which is pretty pricey for a 3.8% bitter on cask. WK went on Good Friday and expected to enjoy the Hog Roast which was advertised but was told that they weren't having one on Good Friday, and there was no evidence that there had been one on Sunday or was going to be. Again, little things, but puzzling why nobody has sorted them out. Am led to believe as well that this is one of the few places in the town to get a choice of real ales, so it is perhaps somewhere I may pop back into to check out it and its competition.  

Having visited four completely different venues with differing results in each, this once again shows  that the range of places to try beers in different types of location continues to change and expand apace. And it has also been a perfect way to enjoy the made up festival of bunnies that is Easter....

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Wisewood Wander

Afternoo,

     the first thing I should point out about this post is it doesn't include many pubs in Wisewood. I didn't go to the Castle for example, and in some ways, the first two pubs are actually in Loxley. The theme of this post is therefore deliberate misinformation. I did however, start at the Wisewood Inn.....

I had been to the Northern General to see a man about an issue and had caught the tortuous rambling 97 to Hillsborough and jumped om the 52A. I alighted just off Loxley Road and walked past Christingpher's house up to the Wisewood Inn. I had a pint of Marble Cross Collar on keg, a 5.2% West Coast style IPA made with the assistance of and with hops from Brook House Hops in Herefordshire. Having clambered carefully down the steps from the pool room I was soon sitting by myself in glorious sunshine at one of the tables overlooking the Loxley Valley. It was warm and oozingly relaxing. My second pint was a Wisewood 6 which was also a pale ale, but at possibly 4.8%. As it was reduced in price for the happy hour (I only found this out from the receipt!) it was a bargain at £2.40 a pint. Fabulous beer and scenery as always.

From here I set off on foot to the Nags Head at Stacey Bank, however I did quickly stop off at the Admiral Rodney for a pint of Wainwright on cask. The Roders is not my usual stop for a beer but despite the company of a gaggle of elderly gammons I sat outside in the warm sunshine enjoying my beer and the view very much.

Its not too far along Loxley Road from here to the Nags Head and I arrived about 45 minutes later. Luckily you can pay on card and they also do cashback - seeing as how I had just 5 pence on me after buying an all day saver ticket this was much appreciated. Sadly I have not seen Sixer for a while, and, maybe because all beer from Bradfield costs £2.50 a pint, it wasn't on here. Instead I had a pint of Bradfield Pale Ale, which aside the Sixer is my favourite Bradfield Beer. I sat on a bench outside, in the sun, and asked Matty if he wanted to join me. Several explanations of the times of the 61 and 62 followed as did two or three more pints of the Pale. When Matty arrived 90 minutes later we had just enough time for him to down a pint before walking to the bus stop to move on.

We didn't bother visiting the Horns at High Bradfield, although their beer garden would have been lovely, instead we got off outside the Plough in Low Bradfield and popped inside. I got a 4.2% beer which was either a new Bradfield or a guest, and Matty got something else. Now on my seventh pint I was relieved to find that they serve food all day so we ordered scran - Steak and ale for me and Meat and potato pie with chips veg and gravy for him. The meal came quite quickly and absolutely did the trick, with both plates being returned empty. We finished our ales in the beer garden, now noticeably chillier, before heading to catch the bus.

With funds shortening we didn't stop at the Royal at Dungworth and instead headed all the way back to Hillsborough. We then caught the tram to Shalesmor and popped in the Wellington. Here I had a single hopped pale ale from Neepsend which had a name, comprising of letters. We also bumped into the lovely Vikkie and John Brightmore, who was bemoaning the event of his curry the night before with Davefromtshop and others.

After a single pint in here we walked down to the Bar Stewards where I had a pint of North Riding (or Arbor) and Matty a can of Deya Just a Glimmer Pale ale which we shared. A fabulous hoppy end to a wonderful day of ales pubs and walking.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy