Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Infinity Vortex

Don't worry kids,

      my blog hasn't been hacked by Sci-fi nerds, or film buffs who love Star Wars. The title is actually the name of a beer of which I consumed quite a lot the other Tuesday at Bar Stewards.

I had started the evening across the road at my second home Shakespeares. I had a pint of Vocation Chop and Change featuring English hop Jester, which was a cracking pint, with a surprisingly citrus zest, followed by a half of Cromarty White Out session IPA at 3.something, which was an excellent palate cleanser with plenty of bite. Tastebuds awoken, I headed across the road to Bar Stewards.

I had heard about the Infinity Vortex beer from Sean at Beer Central who described it as the best IPA of the year. According to the board at Bar Stewards its 7.9%. Verdant DIPAs are usually 8% and Cloudwater's only .5% stronger so is this an I or DI PA? To be fair it doesn't matter. It was a chuffing glorious beer. Yet another significant notch on the headboard of the Patrons Project for the crew at Northern Monk.

Checking the tinterweb am satisfied that I may have misread that, as its 7.4%, and thus perfect IPA strength. Its Patrons Project 13.01, a DDH IPA with Citra, El Dorada, and, it sez, Cashmere tank petrol? brewed by Northern Monk, Other Half and Equilibrium breweries. I know I probably like my soupy hoppy IPAs a little too much but any beer over 6% that drinks like juice is a winner for me. And even though I don't know what Petrol tank or Cashmere petrol tank maybe in terms of an ingredient, something in that glorious mix made Infinity Vortex an absolute winner.

I had three, maybe three and a half pints of this superstar and may have finished on a can of the Cloudwater Chubbles TIPA. This in part may explain why I don't recall getting home. I absolutely don't regret this splurge of lupulin. It was the best....um...amount of money I have spent this year!

I remember when Northern Monk came out about five years or so ago and I didn't recall being particularly taken by their beers, but in the last two years their renown and my appreciation for their output has grown considerably. The Northern Monk tap takeover during Sheffield Beer Week at Bar Stewards helped cement that in my outlook, and last Friday I had three pints of the Northern Monk New World IPA on cask at my second home, an incomparable citrussy easy drinking hop bomb that was one of the most balanced beers I have had in years. Mind you, the beer is only 60 IBU (I think) so the balance must be what carries off the hops perfectly - a theme for a future post might be how I have come to not notice bitterness but fruity hoppiness in beer, possibly rendering IBU a meaningless measurement?

Well done to Northern Monk for once again making my drinking week with this excellent IPA, and to Bar Stewards for putting it on sale. I didn't get a can from Sean's but if he gets any more in I may get one as a birthday treat.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 19 May 2018

V3 Vs V3.1

Hullabaloo,

        finding myself with a surprise bank note in my wallet last weekend I was very pleased to also note that Cloudwater had re-brewed their V3 DIPA and released a new version, version 3.1. I had heard they were going to redo V3 and after a morning and afternoon of overtime I was more than happy to pop to Shakespeares, my second home, to have a third of each.

So which was best I hear you ask? Well, for me it was the V3.1. The reasons for that are set out below. Although am more interested in how I reached, rather than that, conclusion.

I can't remember. clearly, what Cloudwater DIPA V3 tasted like. It was released in March 2016 I think, and I have had a huge amount of beer since then, and the only appreciable difference from looking at the font clips was the strength, now 8.5%. Its not possible therefore to make a direct comparison. Apart from the minor strength adjustment, the only difference I was sure of was it seemed to taste sweeter than I remembered? This is interesting, because a chat with Sam behind the bar revealed that he hadn't tried v3 the first time, but preferred it of the two this time, despite its sweetness.

Chris meanwhile suggested V3.1 was a reflection of changes in brewing styles and processes in the last two years. This was a convincing explanation. V3.1 was hoppier, and far soupier. It also had a more mellow balanced mouthfeel and flavours. It was on par with the juicy DIPAs I love and consume. I was sat in the beer garden in bright hot sunshine supping two finely crafted yellow-orange hued strong pale ales and I was chuffed to bits.

The other thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that along with many others, I had ended up becoming slightly bored with the Cloudwater DIPA series. It had been ahead of its time in terms of pricing and the minute variances in each number had made me think my cash wasn't being well spent. Since then, their DDH pale series, small IPAs, TIPAs and wonderful missing piece IPA with the Pilcrow pub have proved that actually, a widening of their output has let Cloudwater brew some excellent beers, with flaked oats and Lallemand New England yeast taking centre stage in making their brews so much more easy drinking, and the double dry hopping hsowcasing the hops brilliantly.

On that basis, despite leaping for joy on hearing them announce the rebrew of version 3, there was actually little point in brewing it, unless it was to showcase the class and excellence f version 3.1.

That said, a comparator or not, it was still a very enjoyable drop, and the version 3.1 was a better drop again. I went over to Bar Stewards afterwards and enjoyed a can of Loka Polly Citra DIPA and a can of their IPA as well - how things have changed even since Cloudwater started brewing, that I now look at the casks, the kegs and the cans and bottles when I go drinking after work!

Long may the development and exploration of the DIPA style continue, and longer still may Cloudwater be matched and followed by excellent brewers striving to create the best and the better in terms of beer, in all its formats.

Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Back to where it all began

Hello,

  on Saturday, which is officially less than a whole week ago, I was at the Sheffield SU's Beer Festival 2018 in the student union, Interval Bar and Interval gardens. It was the first time I have been for many years, especially since the last time I had tried to go they had ran out of beer on something like Friday night. No such problems this time however. And this, back in 1994, which is in the past, was the venue for my first ever beer festival, aged less.

Its a sign of how little I knew about beer that almost all the breweries were new to me then, and also that there was only one beer which I really wanted to try. Having previously been out locally and drank quite a lot of Wards, Kimberley, Stones, and sometimes Websters, apart from fledgling trips to the Fat Cat and the Cask and Cutler my beer exploration was pretty restricted. This lengthy caveat supports my suggestion to Geoff Macdonald or Dave Daykin behind the bar that I should start on a half of the strongest beer at the festival. Despite their attempts to warn me otherwise, I ignored them and went ahead having a half of Orkney Skullsplitter. At 8 point whatever it is. Followed by a half of Arkells 2B. I had a lot to  learn....

Funnily enough this year I also started on a plus 8% ale. Weird Beard Cardinal Wolf (I keep thinking it needs an e....) was an 8.4% DIPA served on keg, where hops are best, and was rather bloody delicious. Having bumped into club Lycett and Ally and Malc, I wandered up into the bright sunshine to join Clan Cawthorne and their birthday celebrations for Richard. Or another male human name with an A in it. The sun was baking, the company was ace, I hadn't needed to piss away any of my meagre funds on a festival glass so had enough for a few beers, and I was happy as a puppy with two cocks.

Up next came another Cardinal, and further sunning whilst I chatted to the assembled throng of folk and soaked it all up. I then decided to have a break from DIPA and went for some Neepsend and Regather Tilamook IPA at 6.2% on cask, which luckily was a little chilled. This also proved to be a good way of restraining myself from plunging into hapless inebriation.

I may have moved onto a half of the Tiny Rebel Can you smell what the Bock is cooking, a gloriously hoppy beer which I can remember the taste of but not the purchasing. I then moved onto Abbeydale Lost Souls 2017 stout at 10% on keg. Drinking Bearded Lady Rum barrel on keg in the Tap was what first woke me up to the idea that keg had merit and value and the same criteria applied here -  on cask, even lightly chilled, this beer would have warmed up far too much by the time you had sat in the sun supping it for an hour. On this occasion it was perfectly easy drinking, and the warmth of the sun merely served to release some of the more balanced and smooth characteristics.

I may have slipped in a further Cardinal but finished on a half of the Abbeydale Nelson Sauvin DIPA at 9% on cask. Far hoppier than their other cask DIPA, the only thing that let this down was a slight alcoholic sweetness. Mind you that perhaps necessarily buffeted you against the sledgehammer hit of the sauvin hops.

Now sober I realise there were far many other beers that I could have tried but actually, whilst the beer I tried was exceptional, this fest for me was about the excellent company of friends, baking in hot sun and feeling almost knowledgable about beer and what to taste. The whole experience wasn't even let down by the bizarre claim that I couldn't get money back for my unused tokens unless someone in the queue wanted to buy the same number. Luckily they did, but isn't that ever so slightly retarded?

I finished the night in the University Arms with the Clan Cawthorne and a pint of Abbeydale Black Mass, at 6.6%  nearly the weakest beer I drank all day. I liked the SU beer fest, especially the weather, but also the lack of rigmarole and restriction on what I wanted and how I wanted to buy it. I returned my plastic glass when I left and felt happy that I had spent the afternoon with some fine folks. And also a trifle refreshed....

Cheers!

Wee Beefy  

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Blind Monkey Whitehouse Lane Walkley

Hello,

  on Friday 27 April 2018 the Blind Monkey finally opened its doors after what seemed an age of refurbishment work and very high quality refitting. Following replacing the roof and sourcing an extensive range of antique fixtures and fittings, the 1930's style speakeasy/gastropub reopened, and I went in on Tuesday for a look.

Its time first of all to witter on mumbulousy about its former guise. I used to live on Tennyson Road nearby, and in 1999 I visited all the pubs in Walkley and Lower Walkley, to see what was available beers wise. There were a lot of pubs in the area then, but very few of which sold real ale. The Palm, famously, even had a handwritten sign in the doorway stating they "do NOT sell real ale". Although I picked the sadly long demolished Freedom View as my favourite, and never summoned the desire to visit the Belle Vue, I did go in the Firwood Cottage. It sold cask Tetley at a good price, and had TV screens blaring out sport to almost nobody, and it appeared over the next year to have a new landlord every month, with the people barred by the previous returning every time to be barred all over again. I did visit twice more, and the last time it was run by a couple who may now run the Walkley Cottage. No real ale but it was a cracking atmosphere. Am fairly sure the pub closed not long after.

Arriving in bright sunshine the first thing I noticed was the intricacy of detail in the interior. Its very busy, but not jumbled, and fitted out to a very high spec. There are two rooms either side of the entrance with a bar counter in the on on the right, and then the main bar area is on the right beyond. There are 4 or 5 handpulls (these are just numbers after all) featuring on my visit Don Valley Gongoozler porter, Bradfield Ale and Timothy Taylors Landlord. Beyond is the kitchen and am guessing the wood fired pizza oven, with a third room on the left, the loos and the access to the yard.

A couple of friends on Faceache asked me what the pub was like after I posted a few pics on there showing some of the interior. One mentioned that he had heard the beer range was poor, which would be disappointing. I think the range is less exciting than I had expected.  In terms of regular Walkley haunts the Beer Co and the Blake the range is disappointing, but that presupposes that they are trying to compete. I would like to think not. The Blind Monkey does food (it sounds very nice as well) and is done out in a 1900's to 1930s theme. Neither of the other two do this. I would suggest a crawl could start at the Blake, up to the Walkley Beer Co and finish at the Blind Monkey for some snap. Although I didn't eat there....

Beers wise I had a pint of Abbeydale Heathen on keg, at £4.00 a pint. That is about right.  The beer was well presented and I have always liked Heathen, but this was only after I had asked for cans or bottles - the keg taps are behind the front of the bar with the handpumps and the range of keg beers of interest was just one. The bottled beer range is similarly restricted. I did have a pint of the Don Valley later and it was a very well kept porter, and WK enjoyed the Bradfield Ale.

Their website states they are a "New Age pub with an old fashioned heart" and in some ways that sums up their beer range. I don't think they could have reopened this former cask and then Magnet and Tetley smoothflow pub selling a wall of highly hopped keg IPAs and sours along with hazy cask ales. I think the rather restrained choice of ale suits the pub situation and locality very nicely. The only issue for me is that, whilst I love the decor and am tempted by the scran, my limited funds don't stretch to regularly visiting a pub with a mediocre range of ales.

That said, the pub was certainly busy. For 17.00 on a Tuesday it was nearly full. In some ways this vindicates their ale choice, and it seemed to be full of people who had come on foot as well. If they could get some excellent cans or bottles like Shakespeares or Bar Stewards I would be much more tempted to visit more regularly.

The pub is on Faceache and Twitter and have a website address, here. It may not yet be finished, as the beer and food menus are coming soon, but its worth a look. This also suggests that they haven't yet finished drawing up their beer or food selection, so am duty bound to go in again next month to see what has changed.

The pubs name, incidentally, reflects the name of Speakeasys during prohibition, according to the review in Vibe magazine, which include Blind Tiger and Blind Pig. So now you know!

So, here is to the Blind Monkey. Wishing them all the best in becoming established on the Walkley beer scene over the coming months.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Shakespeares Spring Beer Festival 2018

Hellall,

  in a very lucky turn of events I was given the opportunity to help someone with some BSc research - ironically, it was regarding poverty in full time work. As someone choosing to pay off all my debts in three years, although therefore self induced, that is an area I have some experience of. Two pints and £10.00 cash later, I was in a position to use the last of my funds and to attend the above event the next day.

Whats more, given that this was an exclusively "cask" beer festival, the prices were a little lower, so my meagre crumbs of finance stretched that little bit further. Mind you, I had to drink cask. Oooh, Evil cask, Evil cask. Get you with yer evil cask. Why doesn't that cost £5.00 a half then yer cheapskate? With yer filthy clear beer with hideous natural features such as yeast, hop debris and fish guts. Pfft. Spending a more reasonable sum of money on fun. What next?

You see? This type of nonsense is just that, whichever angle you come from......

Back to matters festular and Adam had once again used his knowledge and influence to persuade brewers to brew previously keg and can only beers on cask. And they were absolutely fantastic. I started with a half of the Howling Hops All about the mosaic. In a moment of insensibility I had thought the beer featured 50kg of dry hopped mosaic! Since that is more than half my weight am guessing it would make a rather thick beer. Instead, the Howling Hops brew was very easy to drink and packed with a massive, although more reasonable 500g, of mosaic dry hops. Mosaic is a firm lupuloid favourite of mine and this beer started the night off perfectly.

I was sat with Steve and Sonya, who was on the Beer Ink Berry superstitious mixed berry sour, which was a vibrant pink red in colour and incredibly well balanced. Steve meanwhile was on the Rad Beets, a Lost Industry and Shakespeares staff colab featuring horseradish and beetroot in a 6.4% porter. It was very interesting, but I didn't try a half myself (so am hoping its still on Monday when I get paid...)

My next beer was the best of the night by a country mile. I had previously tried and enjoyed North Brew Co Transmission, a 6.9% pale ale in can and on keg. In cask it was frankly exceptional. Obviously with all that hop it looked like soup but it was super fresh and incredibly well balanced. At £4.50 a pint  I could have had three pints and gone home, but other beers required trying and enjoying. Although I did get a second half....

Next up the double dry hopped Almasty IPA at 6% came straight from the cellar. It was wonderfully juicy, and lovely and fresh straight from the cask. I joined S.O.J and his friends Pete and the man with a head and I managed to have a half of the Steel City and Hopjacker High IBU dry hopped New Zealand New England IPA at 6.5%. This did not disappoint, and the New England style fitted the peppery spice of the New Zealand hops perfectly.

My penultimate beer was a pint of the excellent Transmission, soaring away as perhaps the best cask beer of the year, and I also got to try some of Steve's Steel City The Blood, the wine, the roses, a sumptuously tasty red wine barrel aged stout. As the conversation in the school room became more involved I was able to secure a final pint, of the Transmission once again, which I finished off with S.O.J and his friends with my hair down, a sure sign I was a trifle refreshed.

Assuming there is still some beer left the festival runs until Sunday, and in total there are thirty festival beers plus others that have been available to try.

A big well done to Adam, Chris and the rest of the staff at Shakespeares for another wonderful selection of stellar local and national beers during which jamboree of choice I was not once tempted to choose a beer on keg. Although that will all change on Monday....one must drink Evil to be good, after all....

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 23 April 2018

Shakespeares's 4th IPA tap takeover

Hello,

      following a theme, i.e being 9 days late, here is my review of the post titled event, held on Saturday 14th April 2018 at my second home.

I had contrived to somehow misremember and mix up both the date and start time of this event. A brief chat with Chris or Adam (these are just names) the night before got me the right day (changed to avoid clashing with the Hop Hideout goodbye to Axe Edge) but I still thought it started at 17.00. In fact it started at 15.00. As I noticed at 15.10. I got there at 16.10, still a trifle refreshed from the Verdantious guzzling of the night before....

As a maniac I started on a half of the Northern Monk Double Heathen at 10% on keg. Surprisingly given their recent accolades, this was one of the weaker beers I tried, at least in terms o excellence. Doubling any established brand is always a risk, and rarely delivers. This was too heavy, and lacked balance. A shame, but before I finished my last slice I moved onto the frankly sumptuous O/O 50/50 Citra Chinook, a sublime and stupidly easy drinking keg pale at 6.5%. For info, all the beers I tried were on keg. And all the beers available for the IPA takeover were also on keg. And rightly so.

After a quick chat with Rodney who was also in the clock room I bought half of the beer of the takeover, the Deya and Glasshouse momentary bliss at 8%. This super pale extra easy drinking IPA was bliss in a glass, so much so in fact that I had at least three halves.

Returning to my seat with the second half I encountered some Camroids. Since many of my friends are members of CAMRA and I was once, in times of poorer judgement in the past, I am perhaps attuned to some of their quirky behaviours and odd idiosyncrasies. That's probably for the best, drinking as I was exclusively keg beers. Its notable that the reaction of one of the Leicester area CAMRA members to my choice of slake would probably have warranted a polite fuck off or worse still a punch in the chops from anyone not possessing my restraint.

After a good few minutes of comments about evil keg and surprise at how cloudy a drinkable beer could be (its 1985 once again Ladies and gentlemen) a more moderate and slightly more sane member of the group suggested that he had drunk some "craft" keg beer recently and had actually enjoyed it. Am guessing he has now been tarred and feathered, but in being honest, I was more drawn to chatting with him, as it turned out, about my almost exclusively cask only beer crawl in Derbyshire. Once their on theme prejudices had dissolved all were clearly reasonable folk with a passion for real ale. Its such a shame that you had to wade through gallons of nonsense to paddle in this puddle of comparative normality.

By now I had been joined by Reason, which is both a pun and literal description, and he had bought a half of the Magic Rock Hedonistic Escalation, which I have to admit I disliked, and I a half of the Neonraptor Very naughty luggage DIPA, which was far better. Missur Rich didn't stay too long but having pointed the CAMRA folk towards the Wellington, with its horrifying mix of beer dispense methods, I went outside to soak up the sunshine and chat with Rich and Kath.

Once in the fine sunshine two more halves of the frankly excellent Deya Momentary bliss were supped, and roundly enjoyed. It was agreed by some staff in the days following that this had been the beer of the festival, with which I wholly agree. I did also try the Interboro DDH Mad fat Mofo at 8% but despite its excellent NY credentials, the Deya won by some distance.

Once again Adam and the Shakespeares team excelled themselves in a brilliant choice of keg hoppy IPAs which I relished trying, and in the case of the Deya, devouring. Its so fitting a scenario that this IPA fest co-incided with the start of the hottest week of the year so far!

Yours in refreshment

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Two fat Fridays

....does not make 88.

It does however describe the last two Fridays and how they have panned out for me. Thus:

The last week was my fourth full time week back at work, the first two comprising, funnily enough due to leave and bank holidays, of just two days each. The amalgamated effort and requisite tiredness which ensued from ten full days made me really rather thirsty. Luckily for me, one of the joys of working in such a large organisation, and having such an excellent and kind group of friends, is that I have numerous who will take me out for a treat every now and then.

Friday the 13th was one such. I did a long day and left around 18.30 and headed for Shakespeares, my second home. There was a frankly excellent Almasty IPA on cask at 6.5% and so I felt obliged to buy a pint of that and sat with my friend, brewing legend Rich, who was planning his escape. We both loved the hoppy murky cask ale and supped it sat together at the back, but both had other plans. After finishing mine, I headed across the road to Bar Stewards as I heard they had the Verdant DIPA from Hop City available in cans. They did. Utopia!

WK shook his head in dismay when I told him the price and name of the Verdant DIPA, which was chugged back at Hop City like lemonade. Fruit car sight exhibition makes no sense to me, but had an appealing yellow label and an outstanding aroma and soupish appearance. I had earlier in the month supped a can of their Quiet Charge, a 4.5% pale ale which they had also brewed for Hop City. Interestingly, on the back it warned visitors to the same not to fall into the trap of drinking nothing but DIPAs all day, suggesting they had brewed Quiet Charge to avoid that. The latter may be true, but brewing the best DIPA I have ever tasted slightly undermines their position...

As I tried not to down my amazing spectacle of hoppiness (and it was very hoppy, which was a bonus, even if not a surprise) I invited my friend V down to join me. She arrived just as I was about to finish the can, and bought two more. She, likewise, was very smitten. We bought another, before branching out into the Wylam Night train to Byker TIPA, which was not really all that good alas, and the Verdant and Magic Rock we've met before IPA, which was excellent. Rumour has it I went to Shakespeares afterwards, but that is rumour and rumour only....

This last Friday my friend the musician David Howard messaged me and asked if I wanted to join him and others for a few after work drinks at my second home. I said I would love to, but advised that he would have to buy me a drink since it was so late in the month. He agreed.

I arrived about 18.00 at Shakespeares and bumped into a plethora of chums, opting to sit with Cis and Steve from the past, friends recently rediscovered whom to my surprise drink in Shakespeares fairly often. How had I missed them? (answers on a post card). I sat with them awaiting Dave's arrival before joining him at the bar to select a pint of the Pomona Island Pale on cask at a very respectable 3.8%. I have tried two of their hoppy pales now and loved them both. I went back to sitting with Cis and Steve whilst Dave mingled before they left and I got another pint of the same and joined him with his friends. Soon he was joined by Emily and I moved succinctly onto a pint of the excellent O/O 50/50 Citra chinook on keg. Far too easy too drink I have to admit......

Myself and Dave and Emily chatted for a long time, and Dave very kindly bought me a pint of the very boozy Abbeydale Deliverance DIPA on cask at 9%. For reason unclear Dave whispererd his order to someone behind the bar who asked him if the person he was buying for was drunk! Perhaps best he didn't mention it was for me, even though they had seen us at the bar, sober, an hour earlier....

Asking me how I thought I was getting home I told them I was walking to Waingate and they offered to get a taxi to the bus stop so that I didn't have to walk to catch the bus. Having seen me a trifle refreshed they instead got me another half of the excellent O/O and gave me the funds for  taxi home. A wonderful gift from fab friends!

So ended a second booze filled Friday, with a very different plethora of equally exquisite,  wonderful well kept beers on both occasions. And if I can sell some internal organs or the land my house is built on I will be able to afford to finish the month at Shakespeares Spring Beer festival as well, starting Thursday!

Cheers

Wee Beefy




Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Dankers

Helloo,

      is it not bonkers that I love a beer style with the description dank, murky, and soupy? When did I stop caring about pristine clear beer? And does beer have to be clear to be good?

Well, the answer to the last is a clear no. Of course not. Some styles, such as hefeweizen, dunkelweisse, saison and others are almost exclusively cloudy. And lets not forget unfiltered beers, or ales so heavily dry hopped that the hop residue never settles. The key is, I am talking about beer. All beer. In all climates, themes, styles and circumstances. Ever had a can conditioned can? Yes. It pours cloudy. And it should. The answer to the first question, ironically, is not as clear...

This is partly because I have been interested by a debate that has ignited itself on Faceache recently about DIPAs, and laterally, TIPAs. My good chum Danny started this off by saying that he was "over" DIPAs. For reasons unclear this really bothered me. But why? Am not a brewer after all. And surely, as it remains, one of the unending joys of beer is that there are so many styles, and so many different people who love different of them. When did I start to lose sight of that?

Sean at Beer Central also recently admitted concerns about the D and Tipa scene, and its products. Danny reiterated his position, and said that his issue with the style was that they all tasted the same. And that was it. I was now in a proper conundrum.

Had I accepted that all beer should taste like Wards, Stones, Tetley or Marstons, as it seemed to when I started drinking in 1990 (ish), then I wouldn't have undertaken the frankly marvelous, multifaceted, joyous journey of exploration that has underpinned my beer drinking life.  So it is definitely a bad thing that all beers of a certain style taste the same.

Well.....in some ways no. As with all alepinion, it depends entirely where you stand. I, as a person who is always more than willing to try new styles, or old styles on cask or keg not previously,   would still say that choice is the elixir. The choice to have a Fantome saison or a Buxton single hop IPA or a Black Sheep Bitter is inherently important, in fact crucial, to our freedom to enjoy the unending myriad of beers and styles available in the world today.

As it may be obvious to some of you, I absolutely love soupy, murky, dank IPas and DIPAs. Its one of the ironic facts of my battle with over consumption that I have "fallen" for a style where easy drinking characteristics are prized. As I said to a mate recently, its strange I should love a strong ale that is easy to drink. For reason of health and affordability, my best beer should be like near set concrete......

To me then, all D and Tipas tasting the same, which is a pervasive theme, if not literal fact, is actually fine. Its like finding my favourite Iberico chorizo, and then slowly discovering that all other styles of chorizo taste virtually the same, and there-everafter being able to enjoy this porcine prize. The downside of this dream is that there isn't actually the possibility for agricultural, geographical, cultural and financial reasons, that this could ever happen. And even if it were, the issue would be the elimination of every other chorizo style (and humongous, unmanagable herds of pigs in Iberican oak forests). The difference with the assimilation of style and to some extent tastes in the beer scene, is marked.

The gamut of choice on the beer smorgasboard is immense. There are too many styles to list here, and whilst through the ages some styles have dominated, the affect of that domination has been vibrant spring shoots of change. Remember when almost all beer except lager was brown? I do. And I knew nothing else until Kelham Island Pale Rider and Abbeydale Moonshine arrived,  some twenty years or more ago. Can you still get brown bitter? Yes. You may have to go to a specific type of boozer to find it but it remains well loved, and well drunk by those who love it. Did you have to seek out Kelham Island and Abbeydale in specialist guest ale bars when they started? Yes. And you have to do the same to find cloudy dank I and DIpas now.

Our beer universes, irrespective of personal preferences, are in fact very small. This does not for a second disprove the claim that all D and Tipas taste the same, it simply reassures us that other types and styles of beer are not only available, but are also being developed and released all the time. Am not suggesting dankness is a fad or short lived peak on the heart monitor of a dying industry. Am just saying that the same vibrancy that gave us dank, cloudy DIPAs and soupy IPAs loaded with hops is the same part that will, if we do get bored of them, save us once again from that self same repetition of style, format, product and taste by pioneering new styles.

The future's bright. The beer is cloudy orange.

Am now off to drink a soupy DIPA.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 8 April 2018

A wander from Openwoodgate

Hellall,

    on Wednesday last I undertook my first post stroke wander round  Derbyshire and its pubs. I had done a very similar crawl five years before, as is shown in my post here . One thing I notice about this post from the past is there is certainly no coveting of blindingly hoppy keg ales.... actually that forms part of the theme for this visit, with at least two pints straight from the cask. Did I mention I still love Bass from the jug?

I caught the train to Derby, and then walked very quickly round to the bus station, arriving a few minutes before the 6.4. This takes you quickly to Belper, then waits before taking a tour of local housing estates before arriving at Openwoodgate at just gone midday. Noticing the Hop Inn wasn't open, and since I had come here specifically for the Black Bulls Head I headed in about 12.05 to find an unfortunate but luckily not lingering aroma of bleach. That it didn't linger, and that the pub is incredibly clean and tidy are both positives. As was my first pint, Oakham Citra, which I supped in about 8 minutes.

After having a wander round and listening to some interesting tunes, I had time to appreciate a pint of Oakham Green Devil, also on cask. Two excellent, well kept pints of cask beer served in excellent nick and at the prefect temperature. Having got directions for Bargate, I headed off two pints heavier after 35 minutes. An excellent start!

Up Sandbed Lane you reach Bargate, and the White Hart. Alas being mid week this pub doesn't open til 17.00 so I wandered on past in the fleeting rain. Soon I was in Holbrook and in the Dead Poets Inn. Still a wonderful boozer, and the Moonshine had recently run out to be replaced by Blue Monkey BG Sips. Nothing against the shine, but BG is my favourite Blue Monkey beer.

I supped that sat in the lending library near the bar. Alas the cellar steps had just been painted so there was no ale from the jug, so I had another half of the BG Sips before heading off down to the Spotted Cow on Town Street.

I have been coming to Holbrook for approaching 20 years and had never been to the Spotted Cow. Its a lovely old pub set back from the road which had been closed for a number of years. Its now  community owned and serves a range of about six real ales, with one or two available on pump as well as straight fom the cask. I went for a pint of Pedigree, straight from the cask, accompanied by a plate of black pudding and greens, and sat near the bar and the roaring fire drying off. A very pleasant stop.

Heading back up the hill I visited the Wheel Inn. I have visited about four times now and for whatever reason, I have never really liked it. Why is this? I don't know, since there have always been a selection of well kept real ales on, and a real fire. This time, whilst the beer was very nice, my gripe was the incessant chirping of a small bird in a large white cage in the room on the right. Shrill, and never ending, its charm quickly wore off, and in the end I was happy to be heading off for the excellent Holly Bush in nearby Makeney.

Its a bit of a walk by road from Holbrook - due to my unsteadiness, and having had about 5 pints, I opted not to follow the path through the fields which comes out opposite the pub, but instead risked my life walking down the narrow road to the junction just down from the pub.

The Holly Bush is rightfully on the National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors, has three rooms including the impressive snug behind the bar, serves excellent ale and food, has real fires. and recently has expanded its considerable range into keg beers. I had a half of the Blue Monkey anniversary beer on cask and a half of Easy answers IPA from Burning Sky on keg. This was to help wash down a giant black pudding pork pie. Absolute manna from heaven!

Whilst still chomping my way through it, and after taking many photographs of the stunning interior I went for a pint of Pedigree from the jug. I also finished, on a third of the Black Iris Lacerated Sky, a 9% Imperial Red on keg. It was very easy to drink, worryingly, although by now I was sufficiently lined by the huge pork pie.

I walked down the hill and alongside the fat rage of the River Derwent until I reached the King William Real Ale  Free House at Milford. Here, finally, I was able to get a pint of Bass from the jug. A glorious, easy drinking, flat, reddish ale which I supped slowly sat near the fire. Excellent.

A quick walk over the river and round the corner, found me catching the bus next to the now closed and fenced off Strutt Arms. About six or seven years ago this pub was selling Bass from the jug and a few guests, but now looks set to become important, critically needed, expensive apartments. Sad news.

My penultimate stop was in the Town Street Tap micropub in Duffield. Never having been in before I was surprised on entering to be unable to find the bar, until a customer pointed out that there isn't one. You simply sit down and a bloke comes over and takes your order. Although more modern and perhaps continental in style, this is the same arrangement as my friend Dimpled Mug's Grocers micropoub in Cadishead. My only complaint was I was sat where I couldn't see the beers written on the beam directly above me. I ordered from a list of about six beers, a lovely pale pint of....beer. Alas, the amalgam of bose has made me forget what it was I had....

Back in Derby I walked slowly from the bus station to the train station and popped in the Alexandra. This has changed hands since my last visit, or at least managers, but the furore and reported horror on Faceache when the new management had just opened, complaining about a lack of pies and waiting ages to be served, seems over-exaggerated. The beer was excellent, one keg and once cask, with "names" and the cheap crisps and black pudding pork scratchings filled me up perfectly, whilst continuing a vaguely porcine theme.

This trip was a perfect reintroduction to a walking crawling and supping expedition, and featured some fabulous pubs, including two new to me, and some frankly sparklingly perfect ales en route.

I look forward to venturing out further over the coming months!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Week Beefy, Sheffield 2018

Hello Lazerngennulmern,

    the title is an entirely fictitious event that I have invented in order to tell you about a period in which I have drunk almost every day, and which is in no way based on any recent similar sounding beer themed events in sunny Sheffield.

On Monday last I was heading home when I got a call from Matty asking if I wanted to join him and his beautiful Mother for a few drinks. Since I was only just on the bus I got off on the Wicker and walked back to meet them on Exchange Street. They had gone to the Dorothy Pax, which alas doesn't open on a Monday. Despite my suggestion that we go Tarlequin, we ended up in The Bankers, where I had some Conwy Black IPA and a can of Elvis Juice, before we went to the Dove for me to have a pint of Little Critters stout.

On Tuesday I secured some funds and went on a mini pub crawl with them. I started in Shakespeares with a half of the macchiato stout which was on cask and quite strong at about 8%. It was delicious, but I only stopped for one, and headed next to the Gardeners Rest. They still had a couple of Welsh beers on from their recent festival and I had a pint of what may have been a Cwrw Lal beer called Trog, but equally may not have been. It was only £2.00 a pint and went down very well. I had another half of that before heading to the Forest up the hill.

I only had a half in here, of a Toolmakers beer which I had misremembered as being pale and hoppy but was in fact a ruby red brown colour with little bitterness. It was only £2.70 a pint though so that was fine.

My penultimate stop was at the Wellington where I had a pint of Neepsend Pale and a pack of crisps and spent a relaxing hour sat in the room on the right supping it before heading to Bar Stewards. Here I had a half of the Wild beer of some description on cask, and a half of the excellent Verdant Pulp on keg. A fab end to a good night.

I had a break from beer on Wednesday and then met my Mum in town at dinner on payday for a coffee.  Walking down to the Rutland I bumped into Mr Cain and he joined me for a few pints in there. I started on a pint of the Hop City DIPA which was dankly cloudy and fruitily hoppy, just how I like it. I tasted a sample of the To Ol dangerously close to guava which was getting a little low, but on agreeing with the title I went for a pint of the DDH IPA from Evil Twin called something like these days I like IPAs more than people. Its not going to be a remit of mine but it was a very tasty IPA with wonderfully complex bitterness in its flavour. I finished on another pint of the Hop City brfore catching up with Chris and Jodie before I left.

I stopped off for a half in the Old Queens Head - alas I can't recall what it was, and then got a taxi to Bar Stewards to pay off a tab and to have a can of the Clouidwater and Half Acre collaboration Triple IPA at 10%. It was worryinfgly easy t drink, despite its strength, and made me feel a little lightheaded.

Surprising then that I headed to Shakespeares afterwards to buy an drink. Its safe to say that as yet, I have not managed to recall what it was. I just remember sitting in the school room and chatting with Steve Lycett. I also don't remember what about!

Details of the rest of the Week Beefy week of Beefy drinking in Sheffield will follow in my next post.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy