Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Recently, I have been mostly......

Drinking.

        Except, I now can't afford it, but never mind. Its all about the taste. And the location. Here are a few examples of that.

I went to the 2016 Shakespeares beer festival - details of which, late as always, will follow. IN the meantime I have noted a number of excellent beers, thus. It starts with Cloudwater DIPA 9 - a beer I have had in bottle and on keg. I had the excellent DIPA 8 at Hop Hideout and that was beautiful but the 9 edged it. Some have said they are tired of the DIPAs and I get that to some extent but its an interesting exercise in development. None have been woeful, many have been excellent, but I think maybe number 9 is the best yet. No doubnt I will say the same for number 10, but there ya go.

Last weekend they had Abbeydale Last Rites at 11% on at Shakespeares. It was for sale at £4.80 a  pint. To put that in context, I paid that or slightly more for it t the Moon festival in 2008. That is a very good price! Its also not clear how long they had it for, ageing in the cellar - Mr Chris W stated he "made the price up" after realising Chris B had bought the cask originally. Well worth a go - and its still on. Other highlights at the Speares have included an India red ale at 7% from Odyssey called Zombie Blood, a Simcoe Pale from Kernel at over 6%, the Black Iris NZ IPA on cask and the oddly coloured but very tasty Brew by Numbers Motueka.

In other news, the Bath Hotel has recently sold a Pig and Porter Red Saison on cask, which was on excellent form, as well as the Neepsend Pale which has  a name I have forgotten, an excellent cask pale which all three of us had with Richard.

Meanwhile the West Street Ale House has closed - I understand this is die to the impending demolition of the building so closure is inevitable but its still a shame, as it offered a choice not found in that area of West Street. The Hare and Hounds on Nursery Street has been demolished, so that's another Sheffield former real ale pub that I never visited.

In final bad news, it has emerged this week that Chris and Kate have not taken on the lease of the Boardwalk. Its a real shame as the ideas they had were fab but if they can find another venue then there is still the chance that an exciting new pub could await us in Sheffield!

A final mention goes to the Old Queens Head at Pond Hill where they had an Earl Grey IPA on from Thwaites Brewery. It was £3.20 a pint and tasted brilliant - another reason to visit this fabulous and oft overlooked pub near the bus station.

More news next week!

Cheers

Wee Beefy


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The 4th South Normanton Beer Festival

Elloh,

     last year me, Tash and Wee Fatha were driven by Wee Keefy to South Normanton to attend their beer festival. We liked it so much we decided to go again this year. Alas WK was orf to Cropton beer festival so was unable to drive us, and since he didn't want to drive there and have three thirds in 4 hours WF was encouraged by WK to go by public transport. Lets get this out of the way now - that was a terrible idea! However, let us also not worry about that. Lets talk festival.

Last year me and Tash had met Mick, Care and Bridget (and others) working behind the bar. As we got on so well, I became friends with them on Faceache. I met all of them this year, and that just added a little extra enjoyment to the festival. Arriving about 14.00 we found it was free to get in (woo-hoo!) and £3.00 for a returnable or keepable glass - there were a limited edition of festival ones this year. Being a poorpa, I bought me and WF a returnable one.

Tokens were 50p each so roughly two for a third, three for a half and six for a pint, with some extra coinage for stronger beers. As is commonplace for myself these days, numerous stronger ales were consumed. Well, it would be rude not to.

The festival is quite small admittedly, but showcases a very good range of local and some slightly further afield real ales - considering my hopheadedness, I have to say I was very pleased with the number of plus 5% IPAs available, but this style did not dominate (nine of the thirty two were IPAs). I started on a half of Thorley and Sons Pale and Interesting Pale Ale. Not seen or had their beers before, and this was a really enjoyable starter.

Having caught up with Clare and learned Mick was at a meeting nearby I decided to go for something stronger, and chose a half of Abstract Jungle Brewery Solo, a strong IPA at 5.9%. This was a very well balanced hoppy IPA and really hit the spot. Next I followed Clare's advice and got myself a half of the Torrside Brewing Katakana, a 5.2% Belgian Blonde style ale with Sorachi Ace hops - the strong hop flavour was in fact calmed by the Belgian yeast I think, and the beer was delicious.

I next tried the Black Market Illicit and Gaol No Prisoners, both pale ales but at different strengths with the No Prisoners at 5.7%. Both were tasty but also had quite earthy flavours. My next half was Dead Beard IPA at 5.5% from the Hairy Brewers, and his was probably my beer of the festival, although both me and WF enjoyed the Beer House from Hopjacker. I also tried Langwith Mozza at 5.9%, a blonde, and the Littleover Dazzler IPA at 4.5%. I also tried Lost time wheat beer from Torrside and Shiny Brewery Happy people. Every single beer I went for was available, but many had started to run out when we left about 19.00.

I finished the night on a half of the Bride Farm Yarlington Mill Dry cider at 6.5% and a half of the Double Vision Impaired Vision Perry at 7.4%. As well as the choice of ales, the cider and perry list was notable with some decent drys on offer. Thanks to Mick Bull for his advice.

So, an enjoyable festival with free entry, a good range of beers and ciders and friendly staff. Am hoping to go again next year.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 21 November 2016

Three Stags Heads Wardlow Mires

Hello,

       a couple of Sundays ago I was out with Tash, and Wee Fatha for post birthday celebrations. We met him at the Abbey after 12.00 and drove over to Ashford in the Water for a snack and hot drinks in a Tea room. From here we drove up to Monsal Head, through Wardlow and the long closed Bulls Head, and into the Car Park opposite the Three Stags.

I first went to the Three Stags Heads with Wee Fatha in 1994. We did a tour of GBG pubs in Derbyshire and finished there for a pint of Hoskins and Oldfield, this being before Abbeydale Brewery started. The pub was, as far as I can remember, exactly as it is now. Except there is a young bloke behind the bar,  whose name I can never remember(Robbie?), and his Missus, along with Geoff and Pat, and the dogs are all new in the intervening 22 years....

My next visit was with CAMRA when I was a member so still last century and they opened the room on the left for a massive spread - am guessing a pub of the month award. It was incredibly rammed, something that also hasn't changed, and I remember having a pint of Black Lurcher, the Abbeydale strong blend dark ale, which used to, and may stil be, 7.2%. Since then I have been in numerous times, most notably four or five with Tash. We had a proper good Saturday session in there on our first ever weekend away. Its fair to say I have been a trifle refreshed on more than one occasion. We have also eaten there, and the food is exceptional.

Don't go to the Three Sags Head if you don't like dogs. There are and always have been, numerous of them sat on chairs, sometimes venturing onto the tables, and sitting on the floor in front of the fire. Customers bring their own, and the lurchers or maybe whippets or others in the pub are well trained, even if they do, understandably bark, at strange hounds. The pub used to have two or three huge black lurchers who often took up the seat on the left by the bar, and when we were in earlier this month one of the snaller dogs got on the table and started drinking Tash's beer. She didn't mind, the dog seemed to like it (only a little bit was had) and the beer was replaced.

On my last four or five visits i have always drunk Abbeydale Absolution. A gloriously easy drinking 5.3% Sheffield brewed pale, in case you have been living in a cave for the last 20 years. Its not session strength but is always well kept and is very good (and easy) to have several pints of. That was true on this occasion, as I finished my third pint as the lights came on, after it had become almost dark except for the fire.

I understand the pub opens three days a week only - Friday from 18.00, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Its rumoured that he sells more real ale in those three sessions than most of the local pubs do in a week - I have never had less then two pints when I have gone in and most other drinkers follow suit so I imagine this could be true. There is cider, and there are some bottled beers as well, which may include a fruit beer and a lager - but I might have dreampt that. And please be aware that mobile phones that go off or make noise are very much frowned upon, so please respect the opinions of regulars and staff alike and turn yours off before entering....

It was good to see Geoff and Pat and the others and once again become immersed in an beautiful  traditional pub atmosphere with real fires, real ale, real opinions and great atmosphere. Very much a no nonsense boozer. And despite and because of his recent ill health, I wish Geoff, Pat, possibly Robbie and Mrs possibly Robbie, the very best for the future. Lets hope they spend many more years at the helm of this wonderful pub.

Cheers

Wee Beefy  

Monday, 31 October 2016

Ashover

Hellall,

       I was out with Wee Keefy and Tash tonight for Wee Fatha's birthday meal. Over the last few years his birthday meal has been at the Hardwick Inn but this time we chose instead to visit the Crispin in Ashover.

Arriving about 19.40 we found the Crispin in darkness. We headed to the Black Swan, with two real ales on, and they advised they did not do food Mondays. By this time the Crispin had opened and having got parked I went inside - to find they had 3 real ales but were also not doing food. Luckily the Old Poets Corner was.

It was quite busy, and Halloween free in the Poets. I had a pint of Idle Valley "Gnarly" American IPA at 5.6%, Koof a pint of the Yeovil Ales Winner (or similar, at 4.5%), WF a half of Ashover Light Rale and Tash a pint of the Ashover cider, which was deliciously dry and earthy. We found a table and sat down to order, WF having a Derbyshire Beef Stew, WK ham and eggs, Tash Chicken in a herb and red wine sauce and myself braised liver in a rich onion and wine gravy with mash.

All the meals were excellent, and served in large quantities, and as we progressed through the meal more drinks were ordered and supped. I had a pint of Abbeydale Black Mass, and Tash a half of the Ashover cider as a "filler" before I bought WF a double Caol Ila whisky, WK a ginger beer and myself a pint of the Pentrich Northfield Garage IPA at 6.5%. All excellent ales, and well kept.

Ashover is a great place to go drinking since overall they have 5 pubs, albeit the Nettle being in Milltown. Even then, this is a great range of boozers for one village. For, perhaps, obvious reasons, I consider the Old Poets to be the best but the above goes to show that there are other places to sup in Ashover, and I understand the Black Swan serve food every day but Mondays.

An excellent choice of real ales in the Poets with lovely food was a great way to celebrate Wee Fatha's upcoming birthday. Ashover is, indeed,  a great place to celebrate that, and other events.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy  

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The 42d Steel city beer festival 2016

Hullabaloo,

      am sorry I am late posting this, have been without funds and caring for Tash, and making meals from limited ingredients in this last lousy week so haven't had the heart, energy or desire to post. Noting has changed, except I may forget what I did at the beer fest soon. So here is what I can remember....

This year I went three times, Wednesday, Friday (ye gads!) and Saturday. On Wednesday Mr Christopher Bamfordshire kindly arranged for myself and Meathouse to attend a tasting session. Its free on a Wednesday, but you still have to pay for a glass and some tokens. Once inside we followed the aroma of serious imbibing and found Chris and tables of very serious folks sniffing, peering, tasting and scoring. I enjoy the tasting sessions but am surprised how guarded and often outright arsey fellow tasters can be - its not espionage! Myself and Matty joined two tables, one with a big lad from the Closed Shop who may have been called Chris and a guy I met last year, and another with a couple from California.

They now lived in Scotland. so having asked them if they preferred cold and rain they explained that they were studying. "Luckily" for them I followed them round for the rest of the night, and even took them to Shakespeares. The bloke's name began with R and his lass was called Sam. Lovely couple.

Beers wise the range of blondes we tasted was a little underwhelming. However, since there were something like 250 beers to choose from its hardly surprising that there was so diverse a range of flavours. Some were dry, some bitter, some burntish, 2 were eggy, but this wasn't a reflection of the quality I encountered when choosing my own.

I started with a half of the NZ Pale from Electric Bear in Bath, a sumptuously hoppy starter that woke up my taste buds perfectly. This was followed by a half of Jarl by Fyne Ales and a half of the strong Nothing but the blood orange IPA from Emmanuales.

Better than all this was the keg. Thats right. A keg bar (see "evil keg" in CAMRA parlance) at a CAMRA festival is a shock, but about bloody time. Bottles, wine and cider have never been real ale but are almost always available, so why not keg? I suspect there are numerous reasons (my favourite being that they worry it may be more popular, but nobody has actually said that to me) but that matters not - it was there. And it was ace. A half of Kernel pale at 5.1% with possibly Motueka hops was purchased, along with a mighty Double IPA from Brew by Numbers. An astonishingly tasty beer! Some of the keg was more expensive than I would expect but nothing was outlandish, and the main thing was there was keg available. Looking forward to seeing more of the same in the future.

Friday was difficult to get in - Wee Keefy arrived just after 19.00 to find a long queue and a one in one out system. Figuring he could wait an hour or more, he met me and Tash in the Kelham Island Tavern. Like he said, nobody loses - the festival is full and therefore making money, and there are 50 or more excellent beers within a mile of the venue. We were on the Buxton Peach and Lemon IPA by the way - it appeared to be about £8.00 a pint, which is s surprising, since its only £5.30 at Shakespeares.....anyone know how much it was at the KIT?

Beers on Friday were limited to more Kernel keg, this time their excellent IPA, and Buxton Axe Edge (or maybe that was Saturday...). I also had Lizzie Ward from Lost Industry on cask along with Hopcraft we come in peace and a whole pint of cider. One thing to mention about the cider is there was no truly dry ciders on - you know, stuff that dissolves your jaw and leaves you gasping for breath afterwards. The driest cider one was a medium at best, although it was very tasty.

My final visit was on Saturday - I had an interesting experience getting in, and will say thanks, but am not sure why! I Had a pint of the excellent North Riding Mosaic on cask and then started on kegs, including Buxton Axe Edge and Kernel IPA again and then a Brewsmith or Horbury beer (no pen) before moving onto half a Buxton Tsar. Not a weak drop at 9.5% this was incredibly easy to drink, which is one reason, apart from the price, that I only had a half.

I also had a bottle of De Molen from Matty who was working his first beer festival. Well done to him, for working hard and showing a very good manner with customers. To be fair, he and all the staff worked really hard at the festival. Well done to all.

I would never criticise a person who volunteers to work a festival bar but I did laugh when I was trying to find the Sentinel sour beer. Having heard I liked a sour beer, and that said Rhubarb and rosehip gose had run out, he said "if you want sour, try the Stancil Barnsley Bitter - its got almost mp hops in it". I nearly laughed out loud, gawd blezzim.

Finally - food. A decent selection this year, mainly because there was a tent provided by the Beer Engine. After talking to them on Wednesday and Friday on Saturday I got me and Matty a portion of patatas bravas and a whole chorizo to share. Needless to say, and as expected, this was delicious snap, and well priced. Another new feature which I hope is repeated.

So, overall this was a fantastic festival. Love the venue, love the keg bar, love the beer range and the food. Ace.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Sheffield pubs - rare and first visits

Hulloo,

     of late I have been branching out a little in my range of pubs. Not because am fed up of my regular haunts, far from it. Instead, I wanted to try a few new places to find out if I have been missing out. Here are some details of what I found.

I went to the Museum near Orchard Square recently. They were having an Oktoberfest - with no German beers! (they may have Becks Vier....) Admittedly getting German Oktoberfest beers in bottle or on draught is probably quite expensive, but their absence, and the fact that only two English Oktoberfest style beers were on, took the edge off the event. As it was I had pints of what I assume is Greedy King Oompah, having decided I wouldn't like the Milestone Oktoberfest beer on account of it being from Milestone. I didn't try the Curry Wurst with chips and salad for £7.00, but I was tempted. I probably only go to the Museum once or twice a year and I don't see that changing, but it was a decent pint . The pub was quiet, and it is better than All Bar One and the Bessemer nearby.

Another irregular venue is the Graduate on Surrey Street. This used to be a Mansfield House and sold their range of special real ales in the 90's which, if I recall, were all named after game - alas time and lack of access to beermats rids of me of any idea of their names but one had a stag on it and may have been called Royal Game or indeed stag, and one had a boar on it and was likely called Wild Boar....

Anyhoo, I did think that September after freshers week would be a bad time to go to this student boozer so it was two weeks ago we went, and found they were also having an Oktoberfest. Better than the Museum since there were 5 keg beers including Erdinger and another from Germany - I went for a pint of the West Brewery Glasgow Oktoberfest bier which was excellent, if a little pricey. And that's the puzzle for me, since its a student pub, why are the prices so high? Jaipur was on cask at £4.10 or 4.20 a pint, which is more expensive than the Sheffield Tap!

Tash was on the Sauvignon Blanc which was a nice drop and we had gone in for food - Tash I think had a spicy bean burger and I had smothered chicken. It was meant to be a chargrilled chicken breast topped with bacon, onions, cheese and BBQ sauce. It was actually burnt on one side and had no cheese on it! To be fair they replaced it without question with a less burnt one (I know what chargrilled means before anyone says) and it was quite tasty, but there wasn't much of it for £8.45 and it was served on a tray covered with grease proof paper, making cutting it difficult. Perhaps if I go in again I will stick to booze...

Until two weeks ago I had never been in the Penny Black. And now I have. The pub serves cheap food and the beer is also inexpensive however they don't sell cask or anything in keg or in bottles I would want to drink - this was very much a brief visit! Tash had a half of cider and me and Meathouse had halves of Greedy King IPA on keg. Now, making such an underwhelming beer colder and more fizzy is a recipe for disaster, and so it turned out. The beer was anonymous and lacked flavour, apart from a hint of background malt in the cream. That said though, the pub was busy, mainly with older couples, the food selection looked OK and apart from the crackling speaker above us the pub is in good nick.

The final irregular venue is the Sworddancer at Handsworth. They had three or four real ales on, and we had Stowford Press cider for Tash, whilst Matty had Birra Moretti and I had a pint of Abbot. Am not sure if its a case of my tastebuds having changed but it lacked the qualities that Abbot used to possess in the 90's when I drank it in the Red Deer.

We sat in one of the corners near the end of the bar and there was a group of lasses having a birthday drink in the area next to us. I have been in about 5 times now and never seen the pub rammed but as I have found out its not a bad place to pop in for a quick pint. Its probably busier in the evenings when they do food as well. I had another pint of Abbot as did Meathouse this time whilst I got Tash a double Sipsmith gin and tonic for not a bad price.

In Sheffield, it seems, there are all pubs for all people. And that is one of the (many) hings that make it a great place to live. And Sheffield Beer Festival starts tonight, hopefully confirming that fact.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Everybody's leaving....

Greetings readoids,

      please can I just make clear that this is absolutely not a post about Brexit, Breaxfast, Brexbyes or other nonsense about European membership or not. This is about people. Real people. Who have left their posts in Sheffield's finest drinking establishments to pursue other careers. Or learning.

It all started with Stef. She left "Shef" in September, working her last shift at the Bath Hotel at the end of August, to go to Brighton to an MA or similar in stuff, or immigration studies. Luckily I don't know  anyone who works in that field so I couldn't forewarn her. Am sure it will be a blast. Am not so sure that a manager has been found by uber successful outfit Thornbridge to run the pub without Stef, but there you go....

Other lost Thornbridgians are The man of Ash and Beccy who have departed their stint at the Hallamshire House. I spoke to Beccy a few months ago at the Beer Engine and they are planning on taking on a pub in Chesterfield. There is every chance she may have told me which one, you know, its name. There is 100% chance that I have forgotten since. I wish them both the very best.

Jamie, or Siobhan, left the Three Tuns at some point to go and study poncing about at R.A.D.A or similar. Myself and Meathouse thought up an annoying and childish song, albeit catchy, which we intended to sing to Siobhan, which simply went "Mark's got a name, Siobhan's got a nickname", during which part we would give him the rods. For all our sakes, its perhaps best that myself and Matty missed his leaving do. He would only have turned up in drag and sang show tunes anyway. Best of luck though mate.

Also leaving the Tuns is David, AKA Kate. I have seen her in Sheffield drinking houses since, the most recent of which is Shakespeares. This is in some ways ironic - since Mister Christopher Bamfordshire is leaving there, and in fact, has left there, to set up a new bar or pub at the Boardwalk with Miss David herself. Am led to believe this has been planned for some time so am hopeful that the venture will prosper under their joint stewardship. Am sure it will be ace.

Also leaving Shakespeares, or rather, also having left...is/was Sam. She also left to study things at University after what was probably a 4 month stint behind the bar. Derek, AKA Rebecca (I can't remember her real name am afraid, but Beccy is a good guess I think) is also studying, but bullishly remaining in employment at the great pub.

Some observers may worry that this sudden leaving spree may destabilise the great ship Sheffield pubs, but in fact Sheffield is a very steady and well maintained ship of ale and sails forth as strong as ever. Posts which may appear over the coming months will no doubt confirm that...

So, in fact, not everyone is leaving. Some people have left. Many remain. Godspeed you Sheffield pub staff! I look forward to drinking in your employers buildings very soon.

Ahoy!

Captain Beefchart

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Saturday Staffordshire pub crawl

Hello,

        you know how it is readers. You mention to your unspolt pub and driving fanatic Father about a pub you hadn't visited in a while, and before you know it a 9 pub crawl is on the cards. That is what happened when I mentioned visiting the Royal Cottage to WF a month ago. Soon it was a fortnight ago on Saturday morning and at 09.30 we were off to pick up Matty and head into Staffordshire.

After what is always quite a lengthy trip - including a diversion as Eccleshall bridge was closed, we finally pulled into Peggs Lane and crossed the canal to the Anchor at High Offley. There was a group of 4 canal boaters from Aberdeen in already, one of whom may have been called George - hello man from Aberdeen on a canal boat whose name I am unsure of !

 We might have had a pint for me and a half each for Matty and WF of the only beer, Wadworth 6X, although Matty did get another half after the boaters had left, and we shared a very hefty bag of pork scratchings. The landlady chatted to us for some time whilst we took some pics and soaked up the atmosphere, before WF bought Matty an Anchor hoodie to wear. An excellent start to the day's drinking.

Not far away is the Haberdashers at Knighton. Its perhaps ten years since I was last there and it hasn't changed a bit. There were three beers on so we had a half of each - WF only having a few sips of his. Rowton Moonshine Mild, Rowton Bitter and Salopian Oracle, which was my beer of choice. The Rowton beers were traditional West Midlands in style and the Oracle was in excellent nick and well hopped. Although this was only a short visit its a pub I'd like to go to again.

Pub 3 was the Star at Copmere End. From a range of three or four me and Matty had a pint of Bass each and WF tried some Titanic White Star. The pub has a lovely exterior but is more modern inside, where food is served. The Bass was well kept and the landlady did very kindly tell us how to get to the Titanic pub the Sun in Stafford, which was our next stop.

The Sun is near Tescos and features about 9 real ales and some kegs. I had a half of the guest from a brewery in Yorkshire (!) and Matty and WF had or tried halves of the Titanic Plum Porter and a new beer. I also bought a half of the Speyside wheat from the Speyside brewery - probably the beer of the day with wonderful speyside malt in the mix. The Sun is an old pub with multiple rooms and caters for families and drinkers alike.

From here we tried to find a quiet road to park on to have lunch before visiting the Green Man - I may incorrectly have this down as Willington, as there is definitely one there but it begins with W and is in Staffordshire! Joint best beer of the day here - Holdens Black Country Mild, a pint of for me and Olde Trip for Matty and mild for WF as well. Brilliantly kept beer in this spick and span pub.

Pub 6 was a new one to us all - the Bore Hole in Stone is the Lymestone Brewery Tap. First time I have ever been to a pub on an industrial estate, and what a fantastic boozer it is ! Quite tiny, we had to sit outside but it was warm and a nice place to enjoy our 5 different Lymestone Brewery beers, which all had names. I also purchased a chicken ham and bacon pork pie to snaffle at home.

Pub 7 was the Brushmakers at Oulton. Now with a new sign, the pub sells Thwaites beers and possibly a guest - I had a pint of Wainwright in here and it was a little disappointing, perhaps just near the end of the barrel. That aside, this is a proper drinkers pub which serves the locals with real ale and little else, and was rightly busy for a Saturday night. One of my favourite Staffordshire pubs.

Our penultimate venue was the Black Lion at Consall Forge. Down a lane, then a track, park up, cross the river, the canal and the railway track and you are there. There were a few beers on and we tried the Connaught Pale (or similar) and the Dark Ruby Mild from their own brewery. Tim Taylors Golden Best came on after so we had some of that as well, to wash down our large meals - the mixed grill even defeated Matty!

The final stop was Cliffs, the Royal Cottage on the A53. Just him and a regular there when we arrived, and I had my usual bottle of Old Speckled Hen whilst Matty had Guinness and WF a J2o. Its been a while since we saw Cliff and it was good to chat about Sheffield and much else at in the beautiful bar room near the fire. The regular left about 22.00 and we continued to chat with Cliff until we left about 22.50, and Cliff closed and locked the doors behind us. He had done his three hours.

So ended a fantastic crawl of mostly old and unspoilt pubs in Staffordshire, with the Holdens Black Country Mild and Speyside Wheat the best beers of the day by far. Well done to WF for planning much of the route and venues.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Sheffield's newest Micropub....


....is opening this evening, across from Shakespeares, if what Neepsend Rich told me is true - and why wouldn't it be? In the hours before that however, Sheffield's newest Micropub opened about 5 weeks ago and is the Itchy Pig on Glossop Road in Broomhill. That was where I was last night. That was where I met Neepsend Rich. That was my second visit.

I don't actually know, or more likely can't remember, what the pub used to be - I mean a shop, obviously, but not what type. The pub is small, it is a micropub after all, and seats about 18 people, with room to stand. Friday night you have to be patient to get a seat - I started off at the bar supping my excellent pint of Neepsend Snapshot talking to Rich, before spotting an end seat on the small table on the right.

The pub has 5 handpumps selling 4 real ales and 1 cider along with 4 or 5 keg lines including Curious Brew, Abbeydale Heathen and guests like Brew Foundation. The pub sells, in packet and in pints, 7 different styles of pork scratchings and has a deal with the Pizza shop round the corner, possibly called Roots, who  you can order pizza from to eat in the pub. The atmosphere is noisy, mainly due to high ceiling and hard surfaces, the bar is homemade (and has a coin under perspex top) and the decorations are subtle and beer or alcohol related. Its very much a micro pub.

The pub was very busy last night and two yoot came in - am guessing they were students, and immediately took their beer outside. The owner went after them to say they couldn't, and they sat down next to me with a giant bag of Sainsburys salt and vinegar stick crisps, which they started to eat whilst they supped their beer. The owner, whose name I have obviously forgotten, said "thats a bit cheeky, eating your own crisps" and asked them not to. Thereafter, the world's most boring man moaned about this for 45 miunutes to his hopefully deaf female friend. Apparently he hadn't heard the word cheeky since 2007 (?) and there wasn't a sign saying you couldn't eat your own food, and that he didn't see why the guy couldn't have just said don't eat your own food in here.

Now I've only been drinking for 25 years but I have known only two pubs where you could bring your own food, and that was advertised clearly as you entered. Everywhere else I would expect, especially since they serve their own snacks, that you couldn't eat your own. The funniest thing he said was "and its really expensive". I nearly said " try the York - where you definitely can't eat your own food". Anyway, the mindless chuntering of mewling children aside this was a great visit, and  I had another pint of the Sharpshooter and a half of the Brew Foundation to finish.  The bus 120 stops virtually outside and you can catch the 51, 52 or 52a to stops nearby. Give it a try!

By way of comparison I caught the 52 next and got off near South Road to visit the Walkley Beer Co - Sheffield's first Micropub. An excellent range of ales was available as always, and I had a pint or two of the Buxton Axe Edge pale on keg at £4.90 a pint. It as on impeccable form, and went down,  being about 6.5%, far too easily. Was good to chat to Dan and Mr Ransomne, and also to see Kit for the first visit in a while. The Walkley Beer Co is possibly smaller than the Pig, but is a wonderful place to visit to drink great real ale, take bottled beers out, buy brewing ingredients or books, and mainly to be part of the Walkley Beer Co community.

Best of luck to all the above - including the one which may open in 70 minutes time. More excellent reasons to drink real ale in Sheffield.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sheffield beer survey crawl, 03 September 2016

Hellall,

       I promised young Matty that I would accompany him, as young members secretary, on his part of the survey of the Sheffield pubs selling real ales on a particular day. The crawl is (mostly) chosen by CAMRA and is designed to reflect the largest number of pubs selling real ales, or rather the smallest selling the most, for the Beer Capital Survey.

Being the Young member's secretary Matty decided to rashly ignore my sage advice on how to get to the first pub, the Cross Scythes on Derbyshire Lane. He caught the 20, and the driver said he would tell him where to get off. Numerous stops later, when Matty asked, the driver said he had forgot about him and told him how to get back to where the short walk started. Matty arrived half an hour late. Luckily, the bar staff confirmed he was their first customer.

Being so late I arrived only 5 minutes after he had left - I had planned to meet him at the Abbey on Woodseats but instead hared up to the pub to have a very quick half of Thornbridge Clerks Well, an excellent hoppy pale at about 6%, one of the beers of the day, then nipped out to catch the bus up to the next pub which Matty was already at.

The Mount Pleasant Inn front door was closed but I knew to get in round the back. The pub is currently being run by Gwyneth, landlord Stuart's daughter, and her husband. Sadly Stuart passed away at the end of June and they have only been running the pub for three or four weeks. From the ales on offer me and Matty both had halves of the Adnams Samba City, a clear wheat beer brewed to celebrate the Olympics - its refreshing and very easy drinking.  Lets hope the pub continues to be a successful community hub.

Down Cobnar Lane next in torrential rain, we arrived at the Abbey. Before we got there, there were more staff than customers (6 vs 5) and the pub was very quiet. We both had halves of the Moonshine from a range of two - the range of four if the others had been on however, hadn't changed since they reopened. As we chatted a staff member spotted a small rogue crumb on the table next to us and raced over to swipe it from the tabletop. He then went to clean a clean door. I know it was crap weather and mid afternoon on a day with no home matches but this doesn't bode well.

Off to the Woodseats Palace next, my first ever trip. Unless it used to be Kwik Save....I had  a half of O Hanlons Yellowhammer and Matty Burton Bridge Top Dog Stout and we settled down to chat and plan the rest of our crawl. Both beers were well kept and possibly cost £2.60 a pint.

Down to Heeley next through the torrential downpour, and we ended up at the Crown Inn. Now refurbished it sells four real ales at a decent price. I had a half of something hoppy, Hop Gun which may have been from Everards, and Matt a half of the Lost Boot from Charles Wells. We dried off here and chatted to the landlady, who very kindly gave us a bag for Matty's notes. By now the rain was heavier still.

Just up the road is the White Lion and in here Matty had a half of Abduction from Dancing Duck and a half of something else, whilst I had a pint of Hopjacker's Vics secret. All the beers in here, apart from Tetleys, were £3.15 a pint, which is very good value for the stronger ones. We sat in the lovely front bar snug and I asked Dave to share updates from me with the beer crawl page, as we were, and remained, the only two persons on the CAMRA beer crawl. And I am not a CAMRA member.

Up the hill to the Brothers next and we had pints of cask and halves of keg. Regrettably the identity of the cask beers has slipped my mind (it was strong) but I recall having the excellent Rango Mango from Abbeydale on keg and loving it. The pub was busy inside what with the weather but was a great place to stop, and Matty chatted with the bar staff about upcoming beers.

Down the hill again, to the Sheaf View, where we had halves of cask which may have been the Neepsend pale ale, but also may not have been. We sat in the back and worked out our route to the next pub whilst enjoying the ales.

Its a short trek from here to the Hop Hideout - and it had virtually stopped raining. We bumped into Andy C outside (with 3 accompanying folk) and tried to ascertain where they had been and were going - we found out we did not need to visit the Broadfield. At the Hop Hideout Jules and Will were on hand to dispense two excellent halves of sour on keg - a 7.2% one possibly from Lervig Brewery, and the excellent 6.2% Oud Beersel Gueze were sampled. An excellent and palette cleansing visit.

Up the road next to the Union, a pub I have not been in for ages, and Matty may never have been. Halves of Moonshine I think in here, mainly because the Taylors was about £3.60 a pint (and the recently run out Absolution was £3.80!?). Its a lovely, if pricey place to stop, but we needed to head for London Road.

We followed the 22 route and turned down past the new Tescos and came out more or less opposite the Cremorne. Here we both halves of the excellent Alchemist from Pictish, and shared a half of Last Rites from Abbeydale on keg. As this was nearly our last pub we downed our quarters before we left, for reasons absolutely unclear. Our penultimate pub was to have been the Club House, but we popped into the Albion anyway. They had one beer on, probably Farmers Blonde, which we supped quickly.

At the Clubhouse at the end of London Road we had halves each of the Clubhouse Pale and I had something pale from somewhere. We met up with Wee Keefy and he joined us for a half before we headed to the Beer Engine, our last pub.

The pub was busy but alas we missed the food, so both had pints of the 7%+ Wild keeper of the peace pale ale on keg as a finisher, and chatted before being joined by Em R. My memories appear to fade in here a little, no doubt unrelated to my having another pint. After this we all went to the Bath Hotel, where I can't remember what we had to drink at all, before they went to the Dev cat and I finished at Shakespeares on two halves of the excellent De Molen beers from the Tap Takeover. One was the strong beer possibly called heaven and hell and over 10%, and the other was the Amarillo pale ale at 7%.  At about midnight I announced I was sober enough to catch the bus home, and got on and fell asleep, waking at Woodhouse. The things I do for beer....

This was a highly enjoyable crawl, in atrocious weather conditions to start with, but it was strange to me that nobody joined us - although, Matty didn't have any charge on his phone so maybe that's why he couldn't update the young or other members, but am sure the event is well known in CAMRA circles. I was assured that nobody joined Patrick on his crawl and other people did their tours solo, but that just suggests that the Beer Capital of Britain is a crown that Sheffield CAMRA doesn't want.  Combined with Sheffield council's woeful dis-interest in Sheffield's claims to be the best place to drink real ale in the UK it is clear that Sheffield is missing a trick.

Its important to point out that I have already discussed the above with David, AKA Kate, the Sheffield CAMRA wallah. So bear in mind that my concerns have already been lodged.

A shame, but nonetheless a hugely enjoyable crawl.

Hic!

Wee Beefy