Sunday, 13 January 2019

Hebden and Halifax

Its 2019.

          .......so this year I visited Helen and Neil in Hebden Bridge. They have lived their together for over 12 years I think and this is the first time I have been over to visit them. I had only been to Hebden Bridge twice, and Halifax once, drinking. Both Hebden trips had featured the Fox and Goose, and one the New Delight up in the hills. One had included a trip to Moyles Bar as well as the Three Pigeons in Halifax. Its over ten years since I was in Hebden. And goodness, its changed.

Having caught the fast train to Lates and the slow train to Rochdale I arrived at Hebden around 15.00, heavy of head but pleased to see Helen and Neil. I walked with them from the station to their wonderful house and we caught up before heading out. Our first stop was Calan's micropub. Its a few minutes walk away and a a few feet wide. I had a pint of the Calan's best from Elland and Neil had a stout from Black something brewery in the North East. The pub was busy and friendly and was indicative of the scene that I think there is in this excellent mill town.

Our next stop was in the Old Gate, or similarly named pub. There were about eight beers on including about four from Windermere. I had a pint of one of their pale ales as we soaked up the atmosphere, but this was not a long visit as we had to get back for tea. Neil and Helen are vegetarian, so this probably did my tired old body the world of good after a 2018 almost entirely comprising of cooking bacon...

We finished the night in the Vocation Brewery Tap. This inhabits half of the former Moyles Bar which was flooded in one or both of the last two floods. There are 20 beers available including the full Vocation range, all on keg from the future, and apart from that night they serve lovely food. I accidentally chose a 12% stout and a half a BBNo saison, both of which were excellently kept, but am going to blame my sleepiness on the stout, as I was in bed asleep by before 22.00.....

The next day Neil headed into work and I got up having promised to walk to the top of Stoodley Pike. Its about a 6 miles round trip, and my claims of resilience to climbing hills and determination to do this was severely put to the test at the beginning. Once we reached the hamlet of Horsehold the route settled down a little and I suddenly realised that I was overdressed for such a walk and it was in fact mild and still. We didn't have time to head down to Lumbutts and its pub but the walk itself was very enjoyable.

Back in Hebden we headed for the Fox and Goose. This was the first pub I visited from my first ever GBG so its probably 25 years since my first visit. As I recall nothing has changed, apart from the room layout, but am told that the bar has moved completely. I had a pint of the Burton Bridge and a a half of the Stod Fold Imperial stout whilst Helen had a beer from a brewery that I have alas forgotten the name of, and a a taster of the stout. The pub was warm and clean and friendly and I think is now community owned. Long may it's success continue.

We headed back into Hebden to meet Neil and went to the Drink? Micropub. Neil was coming down with a cough but we all had a drink in here, the identity of which I may even remember. Drink? is very much a bar and bottle shop, with the cans and bottles at the front and the bar at the back. Along with the Nightjar micropub opposite Vocation as well as the unvisited Blue Pig or similar social club in the woods, this proves that Hebden is a great place to sample real ales, buy local beers and see local bands.

After popping home for scran myself and Helen headed to the Nightjar micropub, which has its own brewery, and enjoyed a half each in there. There was good music on and a decent range of ales available. Am fairly sure I had something strong and Helen tried a Nightjar brewery beer.

We finished the night in Vocation once again, now staying open as normal and serving food. I had an absolutely fabulous pint of Ask Dan NEIPA on keg at 6.9% and it was wonderful, washed down with a bowl of crispy fries and a a bowl of guacamole. Well worth a revisit!

On our final day myself and Helen headed to Halifax on the train. Alas the Three Pigeons was not open but 5 minutes up the hill is the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe. This was wonderful, with a range of 28 beers on offer and featuring 5 on cask. We probably tried six between us, enjoying every one. Alas am unable to name, or recall, my favourite....

Before I got my train back we visited the Alexandra just down the road. This small modern bar sells 5 or 6 keg ales and bottles and I went straight for the excellent Verdant Allen at 7.6% on keg. The loos are upstairs and there is more seating up there as well as another venue right next door to this excellent modern bar which was noticeably quiet in the awkward first week of the new year.

All in all it was great to spend a few days with Helen and Neil and brilliant to sample a taste of the excellent pubs in their hometown of Hebden and nearby Halifax. Definitely two places I would recommend visiting.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Hell's Bellers....

Good morning,

       I realise its Christmas day and I should therefore be wrapped up in bed awaiting Santa to come down my chimney (or something) but am wide awake and the festive mood is making me feel a little mischevious.......

With thanks first of all to Mr Q for the word Bellers, I thought I would share, almost as literally as I can, this run down of all that happened when six or seven corpulent whingers entered a bar popular for its kegs and cans and bemoaned almost every aspect - only for some to stay for more than a pint each.

I was sat near the bar, likely with my friend T-Dawg, but also likely by myself, enjoying a chat with the staff. The unwieldy hills of flesh arrived in a doughy trail and immediately started moaning at the range of beers. "You aven got enni bitter on then?" one asked in a thick West Midlands accent. The barman admitted his failure in life, but pointed the assembled party in the direction of Brass Castle Comet, a single hop pale ale, nearer to the unedifying dullness of bitter than anything else.

One by one the portly complainers tasted the beer and mostly scowled. "ooh, ooh, its gorra twang, its gorra twang this as" said one, about 47 times. "ooh thass oppy innit. Ooh no. Far too oppy....." Much mumbling followed, yet mysteriously, apart from one who had a gin (but was likely not part of the group) all had the Comet, apart from one who had a stout....

We none bellers continued our convivial chat whilst they sat down, saying loudly "iss really disappointing this place innit" and "oi expected a traditional bitter like that Barnsley they ave over the road". Even more perplexing than their choice of venue, was the comment by one that "ooh no, Commit is faar too oppy to be suitible forrah single op beer". As opposed to what? Target? First Gold?

Its important for me to point out by the way that this is not a criticism of their preferred beer style. Not at all. If all they drink is bitter then they probably damn well know a lot about it, and its good to be clear about what you like, and would prefer. My issue is, why come to a bar renowned for its keg lines and range of cans and bottles to drink bitter? They were heading to the Wellington next - and Gav from Neepsend who turned up as they were leaving was quick to point out that Neepsend don't brew a bitter and were very unlikely to have one in at the Wellington.

A couple of rogues in the crew stayed for another pint if memory serves, whilst the majority of the lumpish crowd shambled off with their broken dreams hanging in the air, and their ripe disdain fizzing on the seats they had sat on.

I think that my Dad is very set in his ways when it comes to beer but his main enemy is strength rather than the horror of ingredients or the rueful spectre of interesting flavours dirtying his long loved beers. These guys and girls far outstripped WF in terms of narrowness and determination to not enjoy anything new. And that is saying something.

It's their loss in the end, so I feel sorry for them, but equally there's no need to go round pissing in everyone else's sherbet because the ice cream is too cold. Perhaps its time to lighten up a little?

On a number of levels.

Your very best health!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Fruit Loop Friday - sniffed up on misery

Hello there,

         I would like to point out that I always did, and continue to do so until this day, think that sniffed up was a reference to a current or previous cold infection. It was only when in the toilets with two of the world's loudest ever men, on the last Friday before Christmas, that I heard one of them roar that they wouldn't be able to eat their meal because they were "snifft up off mi tits man" referencing, one imagines, recreational drugs. So the title is about injecting misery into your veins. AKA going out on Fruit Loop Friday. Hope that helps....

Oh, and a warning to any delicate souls reading - this post does feature a large swathe of what I might politely call "maritime language". AKA swearing. Look away now if you are scared of the f word.

So, who would want to go out on the last Friday before Christmas? Who? And why? Well, the thing is, am thinking that I may have gone out on every such cataclysm of coarse language and crude behaviour in the last ten years - not least because Wee Keefy's work mates almost always have their Christmas pub crawl on that day. And am struggling to recall a year when I didn't see them. So if its not such a big deal in terms of times completed, what is it that I hate about the last Friday before Christmas so much?  Let me tell you....

Not wanting to go over old territory (that much) I think most of all I dislike the large numbers of obnoxious people infringing on my personal space, and the fact that a number of these irregulars believe that the season to be merry is, instead, the season to act without reason. Am not going to try and assume a high moral line against drinking to excess - even if I never say it I am aware that I drink too much and my birthday week this year was an excellent example of my drinking well beyond the bounds of sensibility by anyone's standards. What I would say, however, is that apart from the odd argument with those around me, I never become aggressive, and never physically attack people when am drunk. This is a rule that I observe as a member of human society. And its not one that I consider the festive season is reason enough to abandon entirely.

Many of you will have heard the phrase pub voice. This is a voice that most people have, at a reasonable volume, that should be used when in the pub surrounded by other humans, whom have ears. Inside the pub is not a place to try out your foghorn overpowering bellow. Not even once. And definitely not all bloody night. Yet for some reason, the festive season seems to be overladen with the shoutiest and most annoying people ever. And the last Friday before Christmas is their pied piper of pointless, piss taking, rambunctiousness.

Then, there is the lack of spacial awareness. As a hundred and something year old pub building, Shakespeares has a number of rooms and a relatively small bar area. Using even the most infantile logic its easy to spot that congregating at the bar once you have your drink is entirely the behaviour of fucktards. Apologies for my Middle-English. I have sat at the bar, in times of quiet. The last Friday before Christmas is not that. Get your drink, and piss off out of everyone's way OK?  Its a simple rule to follow.

A lack of knowledge of beers and pub etiquette and manners is also piss boilingly annoying. As per the below:
Fucknugget: Steeef. Steeef. Dyerwanna beer?
Far away Fucknugget: Whorrivthi go?
F: Ave yer gorrany lager pal?
Barkeep: Yes we have Becks Vier, Paulaner or bottles of Corona....
F: Fuck me, errr...ooh, this uns 11% Steeee-eeee-eeeef! Steeee-eeee-eeee-eeef!
Barkeep: it is £8.90 a pint though
F Yer fuckin wha? yavvin a fuckin laff er wha?
Barkeep: you could have a pint of Becks for £3.40
F: aye go on then (laughs, turns away and points over shoulder at barkeep) this guys tranna sell mi a pint for £19.00 a gu.....
FAF: wosztha go meh?
F: nnanuvver pint er tha please pal
FAF : eh?
Some 11% shit, a dorn fuckin norr.....
This goes on for the next 7 hours. This is one of many reason I don't work behind a bar. The above is not a criticism of lager drinkers, by the way, before you get your angry crayon out....

And finally, mass. Too many people in too small a space. For the love of made up deities, just go somewhere else!

The weight of the air, sticky with overweight men's sweaty farts and Thorseby market perfume splashed on by the litre. Blokes pissing in the sink because there is a queue of two for the urinals. A ten minute scramble to the loos. People who can't pronounce available, thinking it features the letter D. People who are proud of knowing nothing. People who start anecdotes in great enthusiasm, only to not finish them or drift off onto another subject, like John McCabe. Sitting behind a near impenetrable barrier of massive lumbering chimp men with the brains of a cat and the hygiene of a dead rat. Its really not very good fun.

Yet, despite all of the above, I was out in this shambles. I was drinking and enjoying Almasty Pale on cask from the past, and enjoying the company of my Brother and his workmates. We finished the night in a reassuringly quieter Bar Stewards on a mental pint of Wylam Reality Asylum hoppy soup at 7.4% and it was amazing.

And that is the ironic thing. I enjoyed my night out because I was drinking what I liked in my two favourite pubs with people I love. Partially the same remit as the noisy simpletons blocking the bar.

Although, to the best of my knowledge, I don't have breath like a miner's sock with a poo in it.

Just saying....

Bee Wifi

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Supermarket craft

Afternoons,

      I apologise for using the c word in the title of this post. Its just that I thought entitling it Supermarket cancer or Supermarket c*nts may provoke something of the wrong reaction. Worse still, I could have entitled it Supermarket Christmas. Eeeurrgh. That makes me shudder....

Anyhoo, as am bereft of funds I popped t'asda to grab some essentials and a few cans of beer. Alas they had run out of Bass but Ringwqood Razorback was on offer at 95p for 500ml so I got two of them, and then I found some beer in the "craft" (whatever that is) section which was £1.25 a 330ml can for a 5.6% West Coast Pale ale from BadCo. I don't mind their output, although its not a go to brewery, so I bought a can and took it home. Its only when I looked at the can in detail I noticed it said on the front "Brewed exclusively for Asda".

I immediately feared crystal malt. Its not a pathological fear you understand, but it is valid. I can on rare occasions, even detect it in disappointing potations, and share a dislike of it with many in the drinking and brewing circles that I rotate in.

One thing I don't know is, why would anyone add it to a "craft" (whatever that is) beer? Is it cheaper than pale ale malts? Or does it just remind less up to date drinkers of mass produced golden ales? Looking down the ingredients the beer has a decent hop line up, summit, cascade (not sure if UK or US) and chinook, but in the malt list was Light Crystal. I feared the worst.

Light crystal may explain why the beer retained its pale colour - because I have found that other supermarket own brewed, i.e in secret, pale ales, are bitter coloured. Am not sure if crystal malt is to blame, but lets assume it is. And to be fair to BadCo the hops were prominent, and I could appreciate them. And this was better than Razorback, so all is fine.....

Back in August Wee keefy, horrified at my spending £6.00 a can on Verdant and Cloudwater soups, took me to his to enjoy some supermarket own brand "craft" (whatever that is) ales. I was assured that they cost as much for 4 cans as one of those ones that I wasted my money on did. The selection was laid on mainly to prove a point, and stimulate a blog post. Alas, no point was proven, except that they in some cases, tasted five times less good than Verdant beers. The interesting thing though, was the ingredients used.

Having got them from Aldi or Lidl or Rialto, which is a shop I have made up for vaguely alliterative reasons, the four tried were Red Rye captain pale ale, a 4.6% pale with "notes of caramel and toffee", Twisted knots, a 5.5% American IPA with " a grapefruit aroma" and notes of "citrus zesty fruits", Bitter Iron IPA at 5.4% and Plunged Orange pale ale at 6.0% which was "refreshing" and featured "tangy orange sweetness".

The red rye captain was the joint worst - it was hardly pale and worse still featured what I can only guess was crystal and caramalt, to mask the pale colours, and hide any vestige of hops.  The twisted knots was better, mainly because it featured a decent line up of hops including Columbus citra and centennial (but also Dark Crystal malt), and the Bitter Iron IPA was the second joint worst, featuring as it did a more underwhelming hop load but crystal malt again. The best of the four was the Plunged orange pale ale which managed to hide some of the sweetness of the orange with Rakau and Mandarina hops, and also managed to avoid the temptation of using any type of crystal malt whatsoever.

The thing is, churning out hoppy pale ale in a factory is never going to hold the same appeal for me. And I have to admit that. And I also have to pay more for the beer that I like. Which means, funnily enough, that I also drink less beer than I used to (although its generally stronger, so am not trying to claim any health benefits).

I think the positive thing though, from this brief snapshot of supermarket own brand beers, is that things have really really improved in the last five years, and that this improvement has likely been started by the likes of Lidl and Aldi. Although am never going to seek them out, its good to know that I still have some beers to go to when funds run low.

Many thanks to WK for his generosity, and kudos where kudos is due, to the supermarkets mentioned for taking the time to work with brewers (identified, and sadly in secret) to produce decent beers at a knockdown price. Now, where's that can of Verdant and Equilibrium Keep Left....

Cheese

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Doing the Heeley run

Hullabalo,

     last Sunday I went out with my dear friend Vikkie for a short tour of pubs starting on Derbyshire Lane before making our way towards Chesterfield Road and who knows where after. Here are some details of what happened on that wander...

I started the trip by paying to catch a Stagecoach because the Wirst bus never showed up - we were catching the 18 at 12.35 in town so I left home at 11.30 and made it with 5 minutes to spare. The 18 was late after changing drivers, and then the new driver forgot the route. Chaos from the dreadful Wirst bus as always, but we got there on time.

From a range of real ales at the Mount Pleasant, our first stop, we both had pints of the Sadlers Drop Hammer at 4.1%.  This was refreshing and easy drinking starter which went down well. The Pleasant remains an excellent traditional boozer serving 5 real ales, with a lovely view from the bench out the front and a lovely unspoilt interior.

We walked down to the Cross Scythes next where Vikkie enjoyed a bottle of the Thornbridge Versa, wheat beer, and I had a pint of their Rattlesnake. Am not sure whether my tastebuds have changed since the staff at the Bath Hotel brewed this, or whether its another less hopped weaker version of formerly excellent Thornbridge beers - which ever it was it was pleasant but underwhelming. The Scythes was a little quiet, and was also the place where I spotted my first pub Christmas tree of 2018. Mutter mumble....

From here we walked down to Archer Road Beer Stop, now owned by Richard. We had planned to go to the Ale House but information on the internet, which is a person, told me it didn't open til 16.30 so we had to miss it out. We bought some cans, and had a quick chat with Richard,  before heading off down the road to the Broadfield. Here I had a half of the Brew York Hazy IPA on keg, whilst Vikkie may have had half a sour. We sat outside as the pub was boiling, but it was also packed. The Brew York beer was excellent.

We passed Hop Hideout next - ironically the windows displayed only four letters, that spelling out Hope...and then went to the Gin Bar next door. This wasn't a planned stop but it was nice to pop in for a look, and to have to halves of a beer with Shed in the name, on keg.

By now it was dark and we walked along Broadfield Road to the bridge over the river to come out on London Road - and our next stop was at Pour next to the White Lion. Here I had an excellent 8.5% DIPA from True North on keg for something like £4.20 a pint? An excellent beer, and one which accompanied our food perfectly. We both had pizza - Vikkie had the green spicy one with extra olives and I the ham mushroom and olive one.  The bases were likely hand made but the dough used made them so light and incredibly tasty, they were very much appreciated. Definitely reasons for a return visit

Our penultimate stop was in the White Lion next door where we spoke to Jon and settled down in the snug on the right with what was likely pints of Abduction - always a go to fave beer of mine, although had we been staying longer am sure we would have tried some of the others. The music in the White Lion was excellent as always.

As time was getting on we caught a taxi to our final pub, the Beer Engine. In here we had beers, served in glasses, which we drank using our mouths. The beers would have been brewed by breweries and would have had names. We also saw Adam and Lucienne, although I didn't recognise her, and me and Vikkie left them to it after drunkenly thinking he was on a hot date....

Vikkie left me here to finish my quantum of liquid, after which I popped over to the Albion for a finisher, which was a can of Lupoloid from that brewery. It was nice, but slightly reflective of a poor line up of ales on offer.

We managed to miss out Guzzle, the Ale House, Tramsheds, Brothers, Sheaf View and Jabeerwocky so we may revisit starting on Woodseats on a Saturday to get them all in - in the meantime, this was a fab wander around some fab pubs selling unequivocally fab beer.

Your very best health!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Shakespeares Beer festival November 2018

Hellall,

           one thing that makes me happy is a beer festival at Shakespeares, which is my second home. I mean, fair enough, a beer fest at mine would probably be better, especially if the beer was free, but its not, and this isn't where this took place.

I managed to cobble together sufficient funds to visit on Thursday night, the 29th of November. The unspeakable horror that is the day before pay day. I manged to purchase an excellent half of the Turning Point Soothsayer Cascade Pale on cask from the cellar, and went to join Ally and Malc, who as dark ale aficionados were already on with trying some of the more troublingly strong offerings from Atom and Imperial and Steel City. The Neutron Star, Rum Tiramisu and Rogue 3 offerings were very easy to eat. sorry, drink, but even just a taste of each a going to my legs.

I meanwhile was very kindly bought half a Kurios Oranj, a Mandarina hop, orange and oat IPA at 6.0% from North Brewery which was once again very easy drinking and not as sweet as it may sound. I then had a half of the Siren suspended in Citra which was excellent, followed by more Soothsayer and a half of Wilde Childe Adoption Process passionfruit IPA,  now joined by Steve and Sonya.  

I returned on Friday where I had more pints of the Soothsayer and two pints of the excellent North Brew Co Hallertau Blanc and Mosaic pale which was on excellent form, very refreshing and packed full of two types of hops that balanced the beer out perfectly. I also tried the Atom Pathfinder Mosaic pale at 4.5%, the Cloudwater AW18 DDH Pale at 5.5% (which may have been on "cask" or some such), as well as their excellent DIPA on keg, from the future.

I finished on pints of the excellent Almasty Breakfast IPA, Howling Hops Pale XX APA and North Riding Brew co Biotic Orb which was a 5.8% mango American pale, which sadly featured too much mango and too little bittering hop, but was still a nice sup.

Rodney said that he had enjoyed it but that there had been nothing that made him say "Wow" but I disagree - the North Pale, Turning Point Soothsayer and Almasty Breakfast IPA were all stunning beers which I had more than one of, and apart from the soilly taste in the Abbeydale plum sour I didn't try a bad beer all fest.  

Well done once again to Adam, Chris, Nate and the rest of the team at my second home for making this another classic beer festival, and I look forward to visiting you once more before the unspeakable horror of harassment descends upon us, that being the C word.

Huzaah!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Shakespeares Scandinavian Tap Takeover 2

Evenin

   when my dear friend Vikkie asked me if I was going to this event, after first thinking I was a week further ahead and this was the Thursday of the beer fest, I said no. Having correctly established it's identity, I reminded her that I had already decided not to go because I knew I would be free of funds. Vikkie very kindly offered to buy me a couple, so I decided it would be a great idea to go. It was....

Arriving not long after 17.00 we were being sensible and started on halves. In fact, we stayed on halves. Some of the sensibility may have been undermined by our starting on half of the O/O Bangatan (which may have had an extra a on the clip), which was a deliciously easy drinking Nelson, Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hopped pale at 7.5%. I really like O/O brewery beers, mainly because they seem so flawlessly produced and easy to drink. This was no exception.

Sitting in the front bar we were well placed to see a trail of people we knew amassing at the bar and enjoying numerous similarly excellent ales. Messers Marshall, Cheetham and S.o.J to name but a few, and I also saw Unpro just before he left, John, Tony and Jack. The S.o.J joined us briefly as well, also on the Bangatan, and we had a good chat about beer, beers had, and beers to try.

The next we tried was the Alefarm Standing Shallow, a 5.8% IPA hopped with Mosaic and Ekuanot. This is probably my first Alefarm brew and very enjoyable it was too. One thing I did notice about the Norwegian and Swedish beers we drank was that even their IPA's weren't pale in the same way Northern UK ones are with their number 1 and 2 malts. I wondered if this was to differentiate them from the pervasive appearance of Scandinavian lagers?

The Mikkeller Spontan Elderflower was next, a 7.7% sour beer aged in oak barrels. It was sour, but not acidic, and incredibly easy to drink. In fact, its strength was somewhat lost in the hazy refreshing mix of this excellent beer.

Vikkie stayed on her second Bangatan whilst I embarked on the Amundsen Marshmallow Psycho, a huge 12.3% barrel aged stout with a massive flavour, but which once again was worryingly easy to drink. As it was a school night this was the only one of the three 12% or above stouts which we tried, but it was well worth it.

Our final beers of the takeover were halves of the Amundsen Collective Arts Basket Case,  7.5% double dry hopped DIPA. This held on to its citrus hoppiness brilliantly, although am not sure what I think of the idea of a sub 8% DIPA - I realise the double does not refer to strength but instead hops or IBU but I want to know that I have drunk a DIPA and these days my starting strength is already 6%. Well, that's my keg starting strength any road. Cask is understandably easier to start low on...

We may have ad a second of the Basket case before heading oer't road to have a can of Verdant Photon Trails and a bottle of the Track and Verdant path of least resistance, a fruited brut DIPA, which was a very interesting and enjoyable combo of styles. I also went back the next day to try a couple of pints of the excellent Beatnix Republik session IPA which had a name, and was probably about 3.8% - a wonderful beer!

All the beers we tried at the Scandinavian Tap takeover were excellent, and its always interesting to try beers from further afield and outside the normal comfort zone of Verdant Cloudwater and Northern Monk. Well done once again to Shakespeares for putting on an excellent range of beers nor previously tried, and which told us much about the Scandinavian brewing scene.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Pour, Chesterfield Road, Sheffield

Hulloo,

      am not sure how to describe Pour. So am going to list its qualities and go from there. A Vegan beer bar, selling vegan food, with a lovely atmosphere, that is dog friendly, human friendly and comfortable, in a former Italian restaurant. They probably sell vegan wine, they probably sell spirits, and I think they sell alcohol, or virtually alcohol free, beer. Its really rather fab. Pour aims to serve only vegan beer as far as is possible, and there is a link here to their Facebook page for details of current beers, food and other info - they are also on Twitter....

Having opened on a double digit Friday there was no way I would have sufficient funds to visit on the first night but after a walk with WK on Sunday I persuaded him to take us to Pour for a beer, and our first visit. On entering I spotted Gavin at the bar, and also the inimitable Mr Entwistle behind it. Whilst WK looked for something lower gravity I was recommended the Abbeydale Voyager, possibly number 19, and featuring centennial; simcoe and mosaic or similar for its hops. "Basically my three favourite hops" said Edd, knowingly. I was sold. And WK bought me a pint of this fabulous keg IPA.

We went into the room on the right which was packed with guests, both human and doggies and sat at the back to read the bottled beer list. There was a Torrside super imperial stout on at about 11% but I think WK resisted and had a pale ale from Bad Seed. We both enjoyed our beers....

Food had finished by 19.00 I think and despite my attempts to persuade him I couldn't get WK to part with a few quid for some seasoned chips. However, we bumped into Barry Valentine as we were leaving and he shared a couple of slices of ham and mushroom pizza with us. It was just what we needed to put us on until we got home and was delicious. I: did not ask if it was vegan ham, but it could have been!

Alas as it was WK's shout and he had driven us to the Manifold Valley and back he opted to set off after our drinks, and having parked outside we were home in no time. Pour is a great place to drink great beers and if possible, with dogs. I realise that this is a short review, but I really enjoyed my albeit short visit and that's what matters! I am aiming to return on the second December with a friend for a couple of pints and really looking forward to it.

Pour is open right now, so go there! Looking forward to seeing you all there soon.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Bar Stewards is Sheffield CAMRA pub of the month for November!

Hullabaloo,

            Its been a long time since Bar Stewards evolved with an invite only, locked door personal party in its then nowhere near ready to open premises. I had been told by Rich Hough that I could join him but it sempt a bit rude and besides, I wasn't 100% sure where it was. Two weeks of guessing which of the recently reopened units followed before I spotted a sign outside. I ventured in on their second or third temporary license opening and had a choice of Blue Bee and two others on cask, served by gravity if I recall (?), or lager, but I liked the place, and soon it grew and improved.

Three visits in and I could remember which one was Charlie and which one was Al and I started to go more often. And then there was a wait for a full license before they opened in July 2017. Rich had a stint doing their quiz and I think they were sometimes joined by the brother of one of the owners (can't remember which!) behind the bar before another period of closure took place whilst they moved the bar from the left hand side to its present location, ordered some fridges and installed some keg lines. With the shackles of restrictive ranges off, the magic balloon of Bar Stewards sailed high into the sky like a soaring eagle. Or something.

Gradually, the hours were extended, Capn Space Maths started doing a quiz, the keg range matured and improved, and the fridge offerings increased in range exponentially. A typical night in the Stews now involved starting on a pint or two of good cask, then hurling myself into a DIPA on keg before finishing on a can or three. Many many nights were spent in there helping to reduce the backlog of suppable soup. Often it was only the pictures on my phone that told me how much I had drunk.....

In July they had their successful first birthday celebration where a fab range of ales including local brewery colabs was on offer, and recently Jay has joined from the Old Workshop, bringing with him a fab taste in music, a wealth of knowledge about beer, specifically beer that I like, a calm influence behind the bar and the ability to deliver his thoughts with a quiet honesty. The final piece of success lego in their castle has been the addition of bhajis and Wateralls pork pies delivered every Thursday.  Now fully fledged, the feathers of the Stews have been recognised and rewarded by Sheffield CAMRA.

I was there with a number of friends and long time acquaintances on Tuesday night. There was a stellar line up of keg cask and can as always and a new staff member called Jonathon who used to work at the Picture House Social. Even former barkeep PJ, AKA Keith, came down to say hello.

Fine free food was available and I drank more than one pint of cask and some hoppy colder soup which tickled my tastebuds perfectly. It was an excellent night with the whole, albeit small, venue absolutely packed out from about 20.00. Well done to Al and Charlie and Jay and the rest of the expanding team at the Bar Stewards for providing a genuine alternative to the busier periods at Shakespeares when its admittedly better to go somewhere else - especially now that the range and quality of ales available matches up so well to the giant goddess og glugging glory across the road.

Huzzaaah!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 10 November 2018

More Moorlands supping

Hello folks,

     as this is a beer blog am not going to allocate too much space to my Dad and his situation. Partly to protect his privacy, but also because, ostensibly, he is neither a beer, nor a pub. I may be 50% beer by now, but Wee Fatha drinks less than me. And his favourite tipple these days is Whisky anyway...

Wee Fatha's mobility is becoming restricted ever more and he goes out less. One thing he does therefore like is just that. Going out. If it hadn't been writ large on his face all night it was certainly clear in his smile in the photos we took whilst on our jolly. That and a bottle of whisky from his  untried list was the perfect birthday present.

Wee Keefy picked me up and we drove over to Wee Fatha's around 17.30 to head out to Bakewell, Monyash, Crowdecote, Longnor and finally on to Reapsmoor. WK had worried we may have arrived too early to pick up WF but we didn't leave until 18.10, and were booked in at the Butchers at 19.00. After a well driven trek across moorlands and through dales we arrived about 10 minutes late. Pulling up outside Ye Olde Butchers Arms Carl came out to welcome us, although he forgot that we were coming for WF's birthday, and closed the door behind me - luckily WF's glacial pace meant he hadn't yet reached the door....

Inside all three fires were lit and we got the big table facing the bar. Later diners sat in the room on the right, and as per previous visits, the room soon filled with smoke from the big old burner attached to the chimney - I meanwhile sat as far as I could from the raging fire next to me in case I set alight.

On the bar was one turned round pumpclip and two empty handpulls. The turned round one said Black Sheep bitter on it, but regular visitors will know that pump clips are a meaningless diversion at the Butchers. Much of the time Carl doesn't know what is on. If he does, or even if he doesn't, he doesn't share it with you. The beer was brown and bitter. It was well kept. It was £2.70 a pint, although the barman didn't know that. I had three pints.

We ordered food with Carl sat next to us - he asked WF what he wanted and was instructed that he just wanted a steak with a handful of chips and no veg or salad. I saw Carl write this down. He also said it was fine. When the meals came all three were piled high with chips, veg and salad. Carl said "thats ow we do um here mate, thats ow we alluss have". WF was not impressed but me and WK dipped into his chips and veg and Carl offered him the chance to take some home. Our meals were staggeringly large. As alluss.....

After fussing and feeding Thea and Sadie the two Alsations, WF slid off icily for a trip to the loo and me and WK got chatting to a couple nearby, and had more beer - well, I did, WK was on softs as he was driving. We didn't leave until nearly 21.30 and headed straight for the Royal Cottage. Alas the light outside wasn't on and the upstairs was so Cliff had clearly closed early. This just means that we will have to go back again...

Our final stop (I had hoped to visit the Packhorse at Crowdecote since its for sale, but that will also have to be next time) was at the Quiet Woman in Earl Sterndale. Being the first weekend of the month we figured it would be open, and it was. We found out that Ken is only two years younger than my Dad, and also some info which perhaps explained the food issue we had encountered at the Butchers earlier. There were three beers on and I had a pint of Wainwright, WK a half of Marstons Bitter and WF a half of Burton Bridge XL Mild.

I have observed before that Ken seems to be closing the pub slowly and laboriously, almost by default. He told us that Earl Sterndale had about 200 residents and they had 60 dogs. This makes his ban on dogs in the pub even less understandable. He also mentioned the lack of born and bred Earl Sterndalians in the village and suggested that many locals no longer came in. Disappointing as this obviously is, the beer already told the same story.

WF is no judge of off beer so I forgave him thinking the Mild was OK, the Bitter which is what I think Ken drinks, was fine, and the Wainwright was awful. I mean, I drank it, blending the sharp edges with the odd sweetness as if they were citrus and elderflower, but it was definitely not a good drink. I had to finish on a half of the Bitter. Did I mention it? No. I don't think there is any point. Not because Ken would contest the complaint, or refuse to replace the pint, but because I think its part of the subtle but noticable wresting free of the pub that seems to be happening, more obviously, every time we go. Am not 100% convinced I shouldn't have said something though.

Ken kindly came out with us as WF slowly and painstakingly shuffled off, his immobility and refusal to change somehow mirroring the steadfastedness of the excellent old pub. People in the village need to go in more often if the beer is to be maintained, and persons from outside of the area also need to visit more regularly. This is not going to put us off from going, not at all, it just makes us worry about the day in the not too distant future when we turn up and find the Quiet Woman quietly closed.

Next time I suggest we eat at the Packhorse, drink at Cliff's and finish in he Grapes at Longnor - maybe opening another chapter in our Moorlands supping story.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy.