Monday, 17 June 2019

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

Hulloo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Aye Robot

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

Aye

Aye

Aye...

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

Aye...."

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

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

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

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

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

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

And heard the word aye.

Aye

Aye....

With regards

Beefolot.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Two new ones and two old ones.

Hulloo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Wisewood Wander

Afternoo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Monday, 8 April 2019

Ilson

Herror,

     when I told a work colleague that I was going to Ilkeston for the day on Saturday he looked at me for a moment and then said "what for?" Imagining that he thought I would be attending an Ikea or carpet roll end warehouse, I quickly reassured him that I was going on a pub crawl. This did not help assuage his concerns. I explained I had last been there about 7 years ago and it had been quite good. And now someone had told me that things had got very much better.....

I got on the train of madness to Nottingham, surprisingly getting a seat, and 45 minutes later I was on the platform bridge espying the Dewdrop. Regrettably this fine old pub doesn't open until 14 or even 16.00 so I carried out the long trek up the hill, hoping, incorrectly, to spot the Needlermakers, until I reached the roundabout and joined the hill which may be called Market street. After a quick check of a street map I came to my first pub, The Crafty One. A small pub selling cask and keg beers. The first difference I noticed between my usual haunts and this Derbyshire town was the justification of cloudy beer. I had ordered a pint of Beatnix Republic I Smash Citra and was warned it was unfined. Good! It also tasted bloody lovely. A fab hoppy start to my escapade....

Just down the road is the comparatively long established Spanish Bar. I think they used to sell beers from Maypole or Mallard brewery - can anyone recall? The bar is a relaxed mix of coffee shop and boozer selling a number of real ales of which I had one. It had a name, using letters, and was brewed by a UK brewer. Obvs.... I asked two fellow suppers how to get to the Burnt Pig Micropub and found it was just round the corner from the Crafty One. My mate Pat had described it in great terms, and to be fair, he wasn't wrong. Although a micropub, likely based in an old shop,  the Burnt Pig does have three rooms - and the understandable level of business in this venue meant that this was fully justified.

The small bar is on the right as you enter and serves a range of five or six real ales. Avoiding the Skinners I went for a pint of a six percent beer from a local brewery. Or not. I sat in the middle room and bought myself a huge Bury black pudding pork pie which I ate at the table with a pot of mustard. The pub does not take cards but luckily, being so close to payday, I had sufficient funds to afford a pie and a pint. The pork pie was delicious, and I stowed half of it away in my coat pocket to eat later.

I got chatting to a local gent from a village nearby who my have been called Alan. To be fair, his name could have consisted of any of the 26 letters of the alphabet in any number of orders, so I would take this with a pinch of salt. He very kindly bought me a pint of a beer, the identity of which temporarily alludes me. We chatted for a further half hour before I headed off for my next venue.

Someway down the hill I popped into the New Inn, as it was advertising Butcombe Bitter at £2.80 a pint. It was quite bare inside with a throng of customers at the bar, but the beer tasted fine and I sat by myself checking the location of my next stop.

Following nipping into a Chinese chippy en route I soon arrived at the Ilson Tap. This is the brewery tap for Aurora brewery, I think, and was serving a range of their beers, of which I only had two halves - by this stage the 5 pints I had already had were playing on my senses a little. The Ilson Tap is a friendly and comfortable place with a good mix of regulars, and which is also dog friendly.

After a good rest and a natter I headed for my last stop, the Dewdrop Inn on Station Road. Always a favourite stop this featured a range of real ales including one of my favourites, Oakham Green Devil at £3.60 a pint  for a 6% pale. Needles to say (that is deliberate) I had two pints....I then headed to the station to catch the train and have a snooze, before rejoining some Sheffield pals in my second and third homes to share details of my trip.

In the time since my previous trip Ilkeston has improved greatly in its range of pubs and bars and the styles of ales available. As its only a short train journey from Sheffield I heartily recommend you go there and try the town for yourselves.

Your very good health!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Kommune

Hello,

     a long time ago I was in my twenties. I would have been knocking on the door of the above named place an hour before it officially opened, and yet, I think its hideous modernity would have made me hate it. Twenty years later and Kommune encapsulates both the past, being housed in the former Co-op in Sheffield, and the future, in its modern way of dispensing ales and food, in a  vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. And I really enjoyed my first visit. It seems then that as I age am liking more modern venues more. That is perhaps strange. But perhaps not as strange as the reactions of others.

I should maybe first set out my stall. I am over forty and a massive fan of the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub Interiors. I have been to the Luppitt Inn, Duke of York at Elton and the Colliers Arms at Mossley, and fell in love with their timeless simplicity and cared for beauty. I also drink beer in all formats, from gravity mild to soupy keg, and from can or bottle. Having estranged myself from the needless pre-judgemental nonsense espoused by the Campaign for Real Complaining, I am now much happier in my drinking and much more focused on what beer tastes like and whether or not I like how it tastes. And I think this in some ways enabled me to enjoy Kommune more than people with their own expectations. I mean, lets not get started on expectation versus delivery....

I should point out that cost is a consideration for us all. And this is where expectation can play a villainous role. For clarity, I couldn't afford to go on the opening night as I had no money. Visiting on payday however, I had no concerns about prices and wasn't shocked or horrified by any. I have a friend who didn't like their first visit for reasons including the cost of a burger. And because Hop Hideout was shut when they arrived. I have to say I can understand their disappointment with the latter. I went straight to Jules and Will's venue when I arrived and as ever they did not disappoint. I didn't let the concerns expressed over food prices affect me though, and had I had more time I would have happily eaten there.

I met two friends from work as I came in and they literally left after five minutes because they said that the place made them feel uneasy. I was at the very least surprised. Yes I made a number of jokes about it being a hipster creche, and admitted that I felt old, but in all honesty these concerns were quickly eroded as I sat with friends, drinking excellent ale. I was on a fruity tropical pale from Ridgeside and it was delicious. I decided not to start on the Cloudwater and Veil Brewing Chubbles as it is 10%, but it is still one of the best beers I have ever had...

I should also point out that I didn't go to the main bar so I can't comment on its range, cost, or service. These are all important factors in your appreciation of a venue and as always Hop Hideout excelled, making me enjoy my visit all the more. Am hoping that as the venue beds in any creases in the tablecloth of customer service can be ironed out.

I have to say that as well as the range of beers I saw at Hop Hideout  I was pleased with the range of ages and cultures I saw in Kommune even more. Its easy to promote a venue as inclusive and welcoming but harder for this to play out in reality. The combo of food hall and bars is perhaps what makes this possible, I think it removes the barriers that people put up regarding their expectations of both or either. If I was in a traditional pub I would be unhappy if a family with kids turned up, just as I may recoil at the idea of people drinking and being noisy when I am eating. For some reason I didn't have any concerns about the interactions or behaviours of others here. Its rare to find a venue that offers that kind of peace and reassurance.

The last thing I will say is that Sheffield continues to slowly catch up with other great beer cities such as Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and others, regarding the type of venue that you can enjoy a beer in. I don't want to sound like am flogging an ideal, but I do think that the widening of appeal to drinkers with differing backgrounds, needs, expectations and appreciations can only be a good thing. Sheffield is a vibrant ale city. It is not stultifying. Its a giant, awakening, lively, beast.

And long may this continue

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Bluvver Duck! It's Sheffield Beer Week!

Evenin all,

     I have to admit that I do not know how to spell Bluvver Duck. I mean, I know that duck is correct but it could likewise be Bloover....to those that don't know, which many now include me, the phrase, in my experience, was used by my Belper born Mum instead of bloody. It seemed that during her childhood in the fifties that was too rude a word to espouse, and she used said phrase to avoid contempt. I was going to call the post "Fuck me sideways, its Sheffield beer week!" . And that's swearing. As a former manger used to say. There. Am glad we sorted that out....

Five years ago the wonderful Jules Gray assisted by numerous friends and fellow beer enthusiasts including my chum Clare, set up a celebration of all that is beer in Sheffield, and all that is good about it. This has since grown to include the Fem.Ale  celebration of women in beer along with Indie Beer Feast, a festival of beers and breweries held in Abbeydale Picture House. This year, and previously, numerous pubs have put on showcases of numerous beers from numerous breweries, so here is a flavour of what I have enjoyed this year.

Monday night I headed to BrewDog to taste some excellent Left Handed Giant beers. I started with a half o their excellent Out of Sight, a four hopped 6.6% IPA. I also tried a third of their own Juicy IPA, as well as a third of their Paradox Islay. Its worryingly easy to sup at 14% and the hit of the peat and smoke comes in the wonderful aftertaste. Am not sure if this was in aid of Sheffield Beer Week but it was a great start to the celebration anyway...

On Tuesday I met my friends Vikkie and Matthew in Shakespeares where they were serving the excellent Amundsen Dessert in a can beers on draught. Given that they are all over 10% I only had two, the Coconut chop chip cookie and the pecan and maple pie imperial stouts, in thirds. I also had a pint of the excellent Vision Quest 7% IPA on cask, and a pint of the four way or more way Hop City Colab IPA. I then popped over the road to Bar Stewards to enjoy a pint of a Verdant beer and a beer whose name has since escaped me. Can't think why....

On Wednesday I popped into Shakespeares once again to enjoy a hugely satisfying pint of Turning Point Vision Quest, before meeting Reason, Gazza, Suethebrew and Dave and Patrick in the Bar Stewards for a pint of Loka Polly Spur, and to grab a final bottle of Yellow Belly. This was mostly part of their excellent South West Tap Takeover, although I understand there was a delivery issue with the Deya which may not be on yet...

On Thursday I went to see a gig by a "duo" and popped in the Rutland Arms first for a pint of Blackjack and a ridiculously strong and similarly delicious third of De Molen imperial stout, from a frankly amazing range of beers including Siren Maiden 2018.

My last "do" was at Shakespeares yesterday. Having taken the day off to recover and to arrive early I didn't actually get there until about 13.45, to behold and hugely enjoy the North versus the rest of the world Tap takeover. North Brewing had very kindly agreed to put five or six special keg lines into cask and these were competing with a range of keg lines from a variety of international breweries. I started on a half of the Dots and Loops, a super hazy DDH IPA at 6.5% that woke my palate perfectly. I then risked a pint of one of my all time favourite beers, North Transmission, a fabulous 6.9% IPA on cask at £4.20 a pint. This was despatched swiftly, and was frankly wonderful. After this wonderment I then had further, a half of their excellent Ursa Major, an extremely drinkable and joyously hopped DIPA at 8.1%.

One thing that I did like was seeing the stronger cask beers served in more appropriate, usually keg and can beer glasses - especially sine the transfer from Keg to cask was done so well and with such success.

More Transmission followed, now joined by Tony and Laura, before a final Full Fathom 5, a fabulous coffee and a half on keg of the Fierce and Verdant 01 Citra hop series, which went down far too well.

This was also the last shift at Shakespeares by Adam, very much a man of Dronfield, who will soon be moving up the hill on the other side of the road to the Crow Inn. I look forward to seeing you there soon mate!

All in all I have enjoyed every one of the events I have attended at Sheffield Beer Week 2019 and am now looking forward with just as much anticipation to a similar robust roll call of beery delights in the event next year. Well done to Jules and Will and all their many friends and volunteers in the brewing and pubs sectors who helped to once again make this a fantastic Sheffield Beer Week.

Cheers!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Two sides of the coin

Hellall,

   as friends and regular readers, of any posts which I now infrequently find the time to write, will know, I don't consider pubs a place one goes to get scran. That said, I do often go out with the other Wees into Staffordshire and with Mumraah and Keet to Crookes for the same. Last week WF had a few issues in his flat and offered to take us out for a meal.

I have only been to the Phoenix at Ridgeway, possibly in fact at High Lane but equally not, twice before. Once when I was a child, and once back in September after coming out of A and E. That time the food was good and the ale OK so at 19.30 we headed off back for a meal. Arriving at 19.40 we dropped WF at the entrance and I ran in, put my coat on a chair and headed to the bar with three menus. Cue being ignored.

Five minutes or more later WF had finally reached the bar and me and WK ad already chosen. There were three staff behind the bar, all running between the other end and the kitchen. At 19.50 I finally got a response when I asked if I could order some food "not at this time no". As WK pointed out, it said they served til 20.00 on their website and elsewhere, and asked that since we only wanted mains could they do that, but the woman said "not tonight" before reignoring us.

We told WF to swap his glasses back and walk back to the car - he was not impressed. "what's the point of spending all that money on refurbishment if you aren't going to serve food?". It was a fair question. There had been a huge amount spent on the refurb. Five minutes later we were holding the door open for WF looking at the sign which still asked you to grab a table and number and go to the bar to order food. Keith did point out that they should take it down - its an A Frame so could just be folded shut and turned round. No answer was made.

As we awaited WK to bring the car to the bottom of the steps for WF, 10 minutes after he had been told they weren't serving food, and with a couple behind us planning to order at an Indian restaurant instead, we decided to call the White Swan in Ridgeway itself. They told us we would need to order by 20.15 and having found out there was three of us told us to grab a table in the right hand side. Five minutes later I was at the bar, and ten minutes later WF was. Me and WK had hunters chicken with the wonderful home made chips, whilst WF opted for partridge and sherry pie with chips. The food came in 20 minutes and was absolutely delicious.

We washed it don with pints of Stancill India red from a choice of three local real ales. We have been going in the Swan for nearly thirty years and the ale used to be Bass which was good but it wasn't always that impressive, and sometimes wasn't on at all. When we had last gone three years ago and sat for the first time in the room on the left, am guessing it was the present owners as they had two or three ales on then as well.

We had stopped going in because for a period they stopped doing food on a Monday but the rudeness and lack of organisation of the nearby Greedy King outpost helped to show us what we had been missing. WF had gone to the Swan for a meal for his 60th in the early noughties so we have appreciated the food, and now the beer range, for many years. I can't forget their goulash and peppered pork stews from that era.

Am not for a minute trying to pull some sort of provider and client relationship card here by the way. The Phoenix however is entirely a food venue so to get that wrong, and provide no explanation or apology, is really very bad. Its like setting up a gin wagon and running out of gin. You have one thing to do.....

The worst part is that the two pubs are s close together. Two very different sides of virtually the same coin. Oh, and the fact that they couldn't have manged to ignore WF's slow tortured walk to the bar and his looking at the menus, yet nobody ventured to tell us that we were in fact wasting our time.

At least we have rediscovered the excellent beer and food in the White Swan now. I think our next Monday night pub meal will be there.

Your very best health

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Back in Sheffield

Urllorr,

    I should point out first of all that I haven't drunk much in January - not because of Dry January - regular readers will know that I do not support the idea, even if  potential, of hitting struggling pubs and bars in the pocket harder in what is already their most dismal month of the year. No, instead this was almost entirely down to a lack of funds. So here are details of just two crawls completed this month.

On the first Sunday of 2019 I went to Crookes. In the Two Sheds, Arthur two sheds Jackson (assuming at least part of that is his real name) was not there,  instead it was quiet and calm and filled when I left by happy fellow Scots. I even stayed for two pints of Thornbridge Jaipur, which in comparison to  other offerings was good value at £3.70 a pint.

Across the road the Punch Bowl had just one cask on, and almost no keg. The landlord had enjoyed his Christmas roster of ales but had somewhat fallen out with Greedy King, and so wasn't especially busy. He didn't do pizzas or like the oven, and didn't want ales that GK couldn't sell. Whilst I also dislike Greedy King, I stayed only for a half and left.

Down the hill the Walkley Beer Co was having no such issues. Packed when I arrived, I did get a seat on one of the tables and enjoyed some beer. In the months ahead am sure I will remember what it was. Am going to guess Pressure Drop - no, wait, it was Wiper and True IPA possibly involving the colour indigo and it was about 6.9%. It was bloody lovely.

I finished the night in Bar Stewards, where I had an excellent cask version of the Magic Rock barrel aged Bearded Lady, and in Shakespeares. where alas details are unclear.

On the second Saturday I met up with Vikkie and Matt outside my second home to walk to the Wellington. I started on a pint of Neepsend Amarillo IPA on cask from the past, and also had a half of the Siren Ryesing Tides on keg. Matt had a stout, am certain and Vikkie had a Ryesing Tides and a sour before we headed to our second stop.

This was at the Gardeners. Being virtually next door to the Cutlery Works seems to be helping trade and I had a pint of something pale which I used to be able to remember on CFTP. It was an enjoyable visit but it was definitely very busy.

Off to the Old Workshop next where I had a half of a pineapple and Yuzu IPA from a brewery that may have been in London. Claret had tried a half earlier and loved it so I knew I was making  a good choice. From here we went to a packed K.I.T where I enjoyed a pork pie and a pint of Peach IPA or similar from Blue Bee. Once again the pub was very busy, which is always a good sign at this time of year. Good for Josh and Louise that all seems to be going well!

Back in Bar Stewards I had a half of Lervig Supersonic soundwave or similar, an excellent DIPA, before we finished in Shakespeares where I had a pint of keg - I know this because I took a picture. Alas I don't recall what it was of...

Sheffield continues to do very well in multiple venues at filling spaces and seats with the derrieres of discerning drinkers throughout the year. Hats off to my sunny city for once again reminding me why it is I am so lucky.

Your very best health!

Wee Beefy

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