Sunday, 8 December 2019

Monday night crackers

Good afternoon all,

              firstly I should confirm that this post title is not an admittance of some dreadful dreary dietary masterplan - indeed, since the subject has arisen, I can happily admit to not being in possession of any crackers at all.....instead this is merely details of three different venues visited on Monday night either side of a trip out towards Hillsborough to buy scran, as I understand people do......  

Meeting Tash on High Street we decided to nip quickly into Cavells, formerly the Blue Ball, if memory serves, for a quick drink and a catch up before heading to the supermarket. They sell a couple of real ales, and on my last visit this included a 5.7% Sheffield Brewed IPA which I had two pints of. Tonight, most likely as Monday is not a busy night, there was just Ossett Yorkshire Gold, so I had a pint and a half of this, whilst Tash had a large Sauvignon Blanc. Alas they close quite early on Monday so we only had time for that whilst listening to some interesting choices of Eighties pop - possibly chosen to remind thirsty customers like me and Tash that they would be locking up in twenty minutes. The Ossett was well kept and tasted fine, and am certain Tash enjoyed her wine.

Soon we were on the tram and got off at Primrose View before heading down the side of the Double H. Shopping took about half an hour and as always at Aldi it didn't cost us much to walk out with four large bags of essentials. As we have done the last four times, we nipped in the Hillsborough Hotel for a few, with more Sauvignon Blanc for Tash and I had two pints of Helmsley Brewing bitter Pale possibly called Howardian Gold which was very nice, along with a dark ale from Abbeydale which was also well kept, tasty and well priced. Although, it may well have also been their excellent Heathen on glorious keg - the same description still applies. Before leaving we got chatting to Tom for a while and found out quite a lot about their role in the community at this time of year and the food they offer. I think its fair to point out that they won't be opening on Mondays in the new year because not only is January a very quiet month but also the pub is too far from other similar types of boozer to attract sufficient trade to be open 7 days a week.

Some of you may know that I used to work at the Hillsborough Hotel when Del first had it back in the nineties. I used to love going in it then and despite one or two previous declines I have to point out that it has improved and continued in that same manner over the years since Tom took over it's running. With the improvement of the Gardeners and the continued excellence of the Blake, its a shame that more folk don't walk past and into the three on weeknights and weekends more often. I wouldn't want to see the temporary loss of any of those venues in the months ahead.    

After finishing and nipping back onto the Tram we got off at the Cathedral and walked round to the Museum for a last one. As I may have mentioned before they now sell Red Willow Wreckless pale ale on a regular basis which has improved their beer range considerably. Although we were close to last orders we still had time for a large drink each and a chat before I went out at 11.20 to catch the bus home.

I think what this shows is that despite its sometimes rubbishness many of Sheffield's pubs continue to try and strive on Mondays and all offer a selection of well kept pints to wash the palate out. If you are a drinker in our fine sunny city, or even if you live nearby or far away, I would recommend popping out on a Monday to breathe a bit of life back into Sheffield boozers and to help maintain Sheffield#s excellent range of ales at all times thereafter.


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Old Queens Head wins November pub of the month


       last night I was unexpectedly out bowszin with Tash and Matty. Having met them for a quick pint of Little Critters bounty bar resemblant coconut porter, Matty nipped to the Washington and the shops and myself and Tash walked down to the Old Queens Head for her to treat me to a pint. Having already spoken to Andy Cullen on transport matters I was surprised to then see him, as well as Trevor and the gent who's name I have forgotten, from the ownership of the Kelham Island Tavern. A quick trip to the bar by Matty when he joined us indicated that the pub had won Sheffield Camra's pub of the month for November.

I wrote about the transformation and improvement of the Old Queens Head a couple of years ago - I had been going in for a drink since 1993 or 94 and had seen some pretty underwhelming versions of it - an opinion reflected in this link here . I am not sure if the pub has ever won this award previously under its current management but I have to say it was wholly deserved. Praise should specifically go to managers Michael and Suzanna, who do a fantastic job of running the pub. And the food they serve is excellent - a point highlighted by the fabulous free sandwiches they made especially for the event - the cheese and garlic slices were supremely garlicky, which I love.

Beers wise the choice was excellent - 4 Thwaites cask, Mild, Amber, Gold and IPA, Thornbridge Market Porter, and the excellent Abbeydale Forge. I have tried and loved this beer previously, both in can and probably on cask at the Itchy Pig in Broomhill, and once again this fantastic cloudy pale ale was made with local bakers at Forge Bakehouse. It featured Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe Hops along with ancient grain, rice, oats and rye. When we came in Tash bought us a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with two glasses and it was whilst paying for that I noticed that they had Forge on - after a refreshing glass of wine I had three pints of the excellent beer and enjoyed it entirely. A gorgeously cloudy, bitter and hoppy soup of joy.

After eating some free samples from Michael of the snacks, and after watching Doctor Johnson award them the pub of the month, I got chatting to some CAMRA folk, including a man I used to see at Archer Road when I worked there called Andy. Well, I say that - this is what I think he is called - unfortunately I am now unable to remember his response to/agreement with/rejection of, said guess....

As he said when I returned to sit with the Nodvogs, "see you again soon, maybe not in fifteen years this time!" which when I thought about it is very likely when I last saw him in 2004, certainly no later than 2008 or 2009, whichever year it was I stopped working at the shop. It was great to catch up with him again, and  to see other memorable, along with unknown, CAMRA people. Not that this in anyway persuades me to rejoin I should point out. It was good to catch up though.

The three of us were quite late leaving after a fantastic night, and one which we thoroughly enjoyed. Well done and congratulations to Michael and Suzanna and all their staff on receiving this recognition for their work, and I hope to be back in their pub next month for more excellent beer and hopefully some garlic soup.....


Wee Beefy

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The 45th Sheffield Beer festival.....


      I must apologise for my lateness in providing info regarding this excellent event - I can assure you that it in no way reflects the quality of the venue or the happenstance, instead its simply that I have been wondering whether I was really sufficiently qualified to write up about this fest - the principal reason for which, instead of my brain injury, simply being that this year despite its earlier-ness I only visited once. And that was a monetary decision.

And so here is what I found.....

Arriving at 18.00 I was queuing before Wee Keefy joined me. I have to say it seemed busier than previous years - attendance on a Wednesday night used to be quiet, but I waited ten minutes to get in. Not a long time I accept, just a surprise if nothing else. Once I had paid the fee - which as well as getting you in also got you a glass and a fiver's worth of tokens, I headed straight into the downstairs tent and bumped into S.o.J and Jack. The kind fella even gave me a free programme which I had for some weird reason avoided buying - at just 50 pence. The info would have perhaps made my initial choice better - having asked for a pale hoppy beer I was sold a half of Peak Ales IPA, which was a decent sup, but a tad disappointing. S.o.J was on the excellent Williams Brothers Tin Man Tropical IPA at 5.5% and this was my second sample, and regardless of my being a Williams Brothers fan this was much better and well balanced. Joined now by WK we headed upstairs to find a 4Ts beer, and bumped into Josh, Bob, Marv White and his mate, along with Vikki and Matt. And the search for beers continued.....

I wanted to try a 4T's Papa Mangoes, a 7.0% ale described as a Mango fruit Double IPA. I was a little worried by the strength - not that it was too high, instead that for a double IPA it should be 8% minimum. The smell was very nice but the taste had an awful background - described as a children's cough syrup by Vikki, and as I went further down I had to agree - perhaps hoppy Calpol?

Things desperately improved next with a half of the Blue Bee Mosaic Brut IPA at 7.4% - always a fan of their stronger strongly hoppy beers this was a worryingly easy to drink IPA which ticked all the right boxes. After a wander and a very slow purchase of more tokens I dropped down to a Born in the Borders Flower of Scotland, a pale ale with some good flavours and a decent amount of Scottish malt to blend it. Things then got better still.

There were two cask ales from Almasty , Cashmere and Amarillo Cyro Pale was an excellent blend at 5% and their Mosaic and Azzaca IPA at 6% was phenomenal.  I am led to believe by a mixture of memories and scribbles that I also tried a half of the Arbor Yakima Valley at 7.0%, but am not certain whether or not I may have simply imagined this what with said beer being a big favourite. And now it was time to head down to the Keg room to sample some truly excellent ales.

I started on a third of the Abbeydale and Box Social Voyager IPA 19. All of a sudden the ale was soupy and tasted of excellent hops. The night was thereafter good. Not that it didn't get better, as next was one of my two halves of frankly excellent Cloudwater DIPA at a robust 9% - I finished my visit on the second. Am also sure I tried a third of St Mars of the Desert's excellent Clamp, a fab 5.4% IPA, and possibly a Track You Do You 7.0% IPA. Its fair to say I may have been a trifle relaxed by this stage, and that may also explain my lack of information regarding the taste of the latter.

I left about 22.00 having had a fab night, with some fab people, including Johnny and Declan from Bar Stewards, and also Nate and Lucy, whom I bumped into in the Keg bar.  It was interesting to hear of a complaint that a nearby barman received, where a punter said "thi sell that Keg beer un are dornt lark it, nevah goin again" an automatically infuriating comment, not because of the rejection of keg as a style, instead the fact that they sold over two hundred cask beers as well! They must have walked straight in the keg bar and without a word walked straight out......

Despite not being able to attend another night I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and with just one exception all the beer tasted was on excellent form. Big thanks to all the volunteers, and specifically to Mr Morton for his excellent role in ordering the beers for this fab festival.


Wee Beefy    

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Ayr, Portpatrick, Isle of Whithorn, South West Scotland

Hello again,

           waking up in Ayr we were downstairs on time with WF and all had a fantastic breakfast before going out of the Chestnuts Hotel full up and refreshed. We headed for Maidens but nipped up a road on the left up into the hills and took a lengthy wander before ending up back in Maidens and parked on the further beachside car park. We left WF with the car and a wander to the cafe and post office before myself and WK headed through the bushes and out onto the beach before walking all the way along to steps up the cliffs and onto the headland where we scattered grandad's ashes over twenty years ago.

The spot is still accessible, and also very quiet, and as the sun came out we had a brilliant view over the beach and out to Ailsa Craig. If memory serves it was January 1996 when we scattered the ashes and it is somewhere we have been back to  number of times. Following a path through the woods and back down a stream side path to the beach we walked further down this time before heading back to the car park to find that WF was likely in the shop and so walked down he road to find him. WF had nipped for a quick cuppa and to use their loo and was just on his way out when we arrived and soon we were heading back to Maybole and then through the hills to Martins stones and church before heading into Barr. Alas the pub there is now closed, possibly permamantly, depending on which source you get your info from, but there is a small cafe in the village shop and they do sell some decent bottled beers including March of the penguins from Williams brothers in Alloa which I got a bottle of.

From here we spent a long time in, and getting to Glen Trool before heading to Minigaffe and then through Newton Stewart before rejoining the A75 and heading into Stranraer. Here we parked outside a fantastic pub called The Grapes. This unspoilt low level pub, on Bridge Street and with a fabulous white sign with a rising red horse on it, describing it as the home of Stranraer Tukker Clan, is wonderful. Built in 1862 and unchanged in fifty years or more the pub sells two real ales - on this occasion Orkney Brewery Corncrake and Man of Hoy, and whilst Keith took WF down a corridor to the facilities I must have had about three excellent pints before we left. On the national inventory (alas I can no longer access that page as my computer says it is unsecure....) it is a fabulous community boozer selling excellent drinks, and with a fabulous unspoilt interior.

Heading out of the town we followed the old military road all the way down to Portpatrick, and as WK went to find somewhere to park the car, I waited outside our destination. We were soon inside the Crown Hotel, and took our seats to order food, and having all got pints of Sulwath Criffel in cask we settled down to tuck in. The food was excellent, and the beer also. After eating, myself and WK fetched the bags and got the room keys. Despite an initial problem, with them telling us the wrong room for me and Keet, we soon got in and having left WF for a short period we headed up to another pub up the hill. It was OK, but their strangely named Portree IPA was definitely Greedy King and although I suggested we visit the Harbour House Hotel, instead we popped into check on WF. After making sure he was in bed, and arriving back at 10.20, we found them closed, and the lass we spoke to allowed us to take a look in the bar - online searches suggest it has recently changed hands and in a change to info on Whatpub they sold two Portpatrick Brewery beers on cask.Bback at the Crown we had another two or three pints of the Criffel before heading to bed.

In the morning WK left just before me to check if WF had got downstairs OK and a member of staff knocked on the door. She said she had been asked by someone to remind me to come down for breakfast. She didn't seem to know who Fatha was which seemed strange, but not as odd as the idea that either of two  others would ask me to be reminded. On reaching the bottom of the stairs I was apologised to by another member of staff who had said they had been expecting to see two ladies, both of whom presumably stayed in our original room, and whom hopefully both remembered to sample, and enjoyed, the food in the breakfast, as much as we did!

After a lengthy wander around the sunny harbour we headed on a lengthy trip down to the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse where me and WK went for a walk and spotted some excellent wildlife, before joining WF again at the RSPB office and taking him up back towards Portpatrick and into a pub next to a caravan park in a place called Clashwannon, near the village of Dunnure.  Opening at four this pub sold two real ales - Osset Yorkshire Blonde and one from Portpatrick. Explaining how much I appreciated this chance to finally try some sadly I was informed it was off, and although I did buy three bottles of the same breweries products, as well as my two pints, I ended up leaving them in a bag in our last hotel. It seems I shall never taste Portpatrick beers....

That place was the fabulous Steam Packet Inn in the Isle of Whithorn. A place I have been twice in the last twenty years and never managed to visit the pub. By now for the first time it was raining and after we got inside and sorted our rooms I started on a pint from Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh  before having pints of every one of the pubs own brewery Five Kingdoms beers, along with two of their IPAs on keg. Food was in a room on the right and it was fantastic, although there seemed to be some confusion about who was having which sauce with their steak.Mine was rare and beautifully cooked, and WK enjoyed his too, but these days WF is such a slow eater that by the time he had finished he was mardily asking them why they served food on cold plates. The main issue is that in the amount of time it took him to sloth his way through his scran it is inevitable that it would cool down.

WF went off to bed early whilst me and WK sat in the bar by ourselves whilst chatting at some points to the brewer and the bar staff and finishing in my case (with WK on ginger beer) on a fabulous whisky. Alas I missed breakfast as I woke up early on with problems with my hernia, and whilst WK admitted the room was cold, today WF moaned that the tea was cold - two hours after he had arrived for breakfast. I really enjoyed the Steampacket - I just hope that as that is where I left my bottled beers (I found the Five Kingdoms ones!!), they enjoyed them!

Due to hernia issues we didn't stop for another boohar en route home and WK carefully drove me back to mine for about 19.30. I have now had two of the three Five Kingdoms brewery beers and they were both ace, I can highly recommend them! I am now invited to return to some parts of the holiday again next year, so who knows, perhaps I will one day try some Portpatrick brewery beers....


Wee Beefy

Sunday, 6 October 2019

The Wee Men visit South West Scotland


       back in 2018 myself and Wee Keefy and Fatha discussed his plans to embark on a final trip to Scotland. Although this in some small way accepted the decrease in Fatha's mobility in recent years it certainly seemed optimistic at best. Being a last big tour WF would drive his and myself up to Oban and then on the third day we would catch the ferry to the Isle of Barra and stay there for three nights, joined by WK. We would then make a two day trek up to Lewis and stay for two nights on Uig peninsula before heading back to Ullapool and spending two nights or three heading back down. WK was reticent, and after he and Fatha went away to Chepstow in February he was certain that WF couldn't do the driving, and following a tenuous trip to Coventry in July we changed the plans dramatically to four nights with no ferries. And here is what happened.

WF was to pick me up at 09.30 and we would drive over to Wee Keefy's. In the end he was 45 minutes late, but suggested as WK took over driving that he sat in the back and myself and Keith in the front. Alas on reaching our first stop he was completely unable to get out of the back of the car and that is where I sat for the remainder of the trip thereafter. Following a trip to Morrisons in Penrith for lunch we popped into the Agricultural Hotel, or Arms nearby, parked outside and tried there some of the four local ales available. I was on a couple of pints of Hawkshead Session IPA, WK was on a half of something else local as was WF. Despite a few problems fitting WF in his wheelchair down the thin alley to the loos, and having to register the incredably centrally parked car, I think this was a cracking pub serving excellent beers in a very busy town.

Following a quick trip t Loch Maben we headed into Moffat and booked into the Old Black Bull Inn. We had not been to this pub for 15 years or so and it had previously closed down. Now selling two Lowland Brewery Beers, I had three pints of their Twa Dugs pale ale and Keith and WF a pint each of the Luce Moose or a similarly titled dark with our meal. Although we did make a trip to the Stag Inn , where we both had pints of their Inveralmond Lia Fail on cask, the only available, we then returned for a couple more of the Lowland. An excellent start to the escapade.

The next day WF was strangely on time and although we waited a long time we thoroughly enjoyed our very large breakfast, which, despite the wait, was perhaps the finest of the holiday. After letting WF drive once more we drove down a B road out of Moffat into the nearby hills where we walked almost all the way up to the fantastic waterfall which is the Grey Mare's Tail. With his permission we left him sat on the viewing platform in his chair, before scrambling up as far as we could manage but to get to the top would have taken far longer. One point was that it was a pay as you stay car park - not expensive, as it was about three pounds for up to four hours, but a family drove up in a large and likely expensive to run car, spotted the price, and presumably, not the explanation of how much of the funds go to maintaining the paths and viewing platform, and left straightaway, moaning "Ahm not payin free quid to park, have never paid to park anywhere". Not only does this sound very unlikely, but its a small, well maintained  car park in the middle of nowhere where numerous people park up and visit each day, given the location and the cost of management I don't know why anyone would storm off in a huff!

From here we headed back into Moffat before heading up through the hills toward Leadhills and Wanlockhead. Known as one of the highest and coldest villages in the UK I was pleased when WK told me that his friend Kev had been there recently and discovered a pub. A quick search showed the Wanlockhead Inn in the village and the supliers of beer from Lola Rose brewery based nearby.  On entering WF was very slow to the bar, and, alas, when we got in there was one handpump with the clip turned round - we were told they weren't selling real ale at the moment. Whilst WF wandered to the loss we got drinks and a seat in the room next door where the band were playing folk songs, and very well. WK was on Tennants dark, I think, where as I had a pint of Maltsmiths IPA on keg. Although am sure its a major brewery maker and supplier it as a beer in a style which I liked and this went down very well.

Next we headed along miles of road via somewhere called Dalmellington, for dinner, before heading to the lovely Ayrshire Village of Kirkmichael. Here we parked outside and visited the excellent Kirkmichael Arms.  Memory tells me I first visited this pub for bose when I was nineteen, which means it was last century. I had a pint of Maclays on cask with a blue label, which may have been brewed in Alloa. Or it may not. This time there was still one real ale on and it was a cloudy Ayr Brewing Co beer called Otto and Griselda, a 4.6% pale ale. As WF was once again on one of his lengthy visits I had two pints of this, whilst enjoying the football results on the TV screen above us. This pub does not seem to have changed in the numerous years since my last visit and is definitely somewhere I would like to go to again.

Soon, with WK now driving,  we had driven over the hills to the coast above Dunure and from there into Ayr, arriving at the Chestnuts Hotel around 17.30. Parked up outside, we were quickly in our rooms having taken WF's stuff up into his, and after a quick change and an attempt to recharge my phone we went for tea at 19.00 in the restaurant, whilst I bought us all pints of the Kelburn Brewing Co Pivo Estivo, a 3.9% lager like pale ale available on cask along with two Greedy King. The food and beer were excellent, although they did change the barrel after our first pints as they did taste a little old. Later we ordered a taxi to take us to Wellingtons Bar down below Wellington Square.

My last visit here was possibly ten or twenty years ago as well and I remember drinking the possibly then independent Caledonian Brewery Deuchars IPA. Now, there were three real ales on including two from Loch Lomond. U had several pints of their Lost in Mosaic session IPA and the other Wee's had other ales, the identity of which has since escaped me.  After a couple of hours the staff very kindly bought WF a chair to sit on outside and ordered us a taxi back to the hotel. With WF, and after he went to bed, I had a further two pints of the Kelburn as well as a double Whisky, before heading up to bed around midnight. An excellent evening of great food and beers once again.

More details of the remaining days to follow

Your very best of health!

Wee Beefy

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Three down....


      I realise its literally hours before my trip away with the Wee's to Scotland, but I wanted to write this pre trip last post.....Details, it turns out, of three different closed boozers that we wished to attend....

The first I admit, is somewhere that I have known has ceased trading for some time. I admit we had formerly found it closed and thus never re-bothered but the tinterweb suggested that this happened in reality in 2015 or 16. Next to St Mary's Loch in southern Scotland is a place called Tibbie Shiels. I say this demonstrating my acknowledgeable lack of info or knowledge about the words - old photos on a Google search suggest equally that this was both the name of a former landlady and the area its in. Either way it has long ago left us. I went to and Enjoyed the Tibbie Shiels Inn in the 1990's. It has since become a hotel and masters lair of a lochside camping site. However, the building has since stopped trading as a real ale pub, or business, and has recently remained empty.

Prior to our mooch across the border we intend stopping in Penrith, a town with a rather less impressive local coloquialism for a name. Recently, before my stroke, myself and WF ventured into the same ancient Dockray Arms Hotel in the same, to find six real ales and a number of keg beers in a venue owned, am fairly sure, by Loweswater brewery.....or not. Alas a tinterweb search today lists this Cumbrian alehouse as permanently closed, so it seems we will miss out entirely on it's admittedly car unhelpful delights. A massive shame.

Finally, despite Wee Fatha's  early 2017 behaviour and, potential self barring, of the previously wonderful Geordies Byre in Newtown, in Ayr, I noticed today on a tinterweb search that the same pub, irrespective of WF's overreactions, is currently closed. He Tinterweb, whom is a person, cites recent bereavement. Having been there and enjoyed it immensely over the last 15 years, am hoping its not the landlord, or any of his staff, that this event has befallen. The Whatpub websites implies that it may reopen - I sincerely hope it does.....

I will write up my upcoming Scottish trundle upon my return, and, in the meantime, I wish you all the very best of your health...


Wee Beefy

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Tatton Brewery

Morning all,

        I first drunk some Tatton ales in 2011, blogging about them in January 2012. Wee Fatha, then much fitter, made regular visits in 2012 and afterwards over to Cheshire to buy bottled and sometimes canned beers. I started on a bottle of their 3.7% Ale which I rated then, and am certain would still now., as very good. There is a link to the relevant post here: WeeBeefy's beer bites

Last night myself and WK were up at WFs for a final meal before we wander off on Friday for a trip to Scotland, and WF has been back over to the crematorium near Altrincham to pay respects and had stayed outside Mobberly. In the morning he had popped into Tatton brewery, as myself and Tash had done with him previously. Last night we tried three bottles of Tatton Ales, and once again found that they did not disappoint.

We started, in no perceivable order, on a 4.5% bottle of IPA - I did pick this beer from many, but purely out of it being available. I realise that regular readers my accurately conclude that I almost entirely drink DIPAs at 8.0% from Pressure Drop and Verdant and Cloudwater, who now noticeably have returned to brewing occasional Cask from the Past, like its 1993 again. I would like to point out that it made no difference to our choices, and whether by style or flavour, all three supped once again demonstrated Tatton's quality.

The IPA was a pale golden colour with that recognisable Tatton bitterness which I first experienced in their Ale back in the past. And there was a very enjoyable slab of hops - I rather slackly declined to find out which but details of the next beer suggest they may have been British hops. As you know, I am a lover of American and New Zealand hops but the flavour in this beer was cleverly balanced, so even tough I could expect it wasn't made with Simcoe and American cascade, I could still enjoy and appreciate the flavours present.

Next up was our strongest beer of the night - a 6.3% VIPA made, it was clear to admit, with British Hops. Reading the pages of their website here, I notice that there isn't much information about the hops used, but I would also say that you can tell the brewery are interested in brewing a particular style of beer that satisfies the expectations of many - and possibly only recently, the brewery now produces some of their beers in keg. Due to its strength, and potentially to improve management of some mild sweetness from the alcohol, the vIPA would suit this dispense method very well - a very big flavour, and once again balanced by that underlying background bitterness which supports so many of their other brews. WK finished first, then myself, and once Fatha had caught up we transferred to the final taster of the evening. This was their Malted Milk Chocolate stout at 4.6%.

Wee Fatha did express concerns about his current advice to avoid chocolate but wee Keefy did point out that the amount of actual chocolate present in the third of a bottle he was about to try would be minimal. That said there was plenty in the flavour of this take on two different beer styles, and this made sure there was sufficient sweetness in the overall flavour. Our last beer of the night was finished quicker than earlier but was none the less very enjoyable.

Overall I actually think the initial 4.5% IPA was the best of the bunch, which is interesting since I have always liked their 3.7% A;e over their Yeti and other strong beers. This may simply be down to the fact that stronger beers of this style do seem to carry a strong sweetness in the flavour which reduces the overall quality a little.

That said however, it was very good to get back to trying some Tatton beers and the experience of tasting their beers is one which I have missed for some time.

Your very good health

Wee Beefy

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Ales at home - what I discovered....


           firstly I should point out that I have been a little short of funds yet again, although I am off to South West Scotland before and on payday so am hoping things may improve next month. I should also admit that I have been out a few times, if not more, this month, and have really enjoyed those trips. In the meantime I also bought a number of canned and bottled beers on Thursday the 5th to have with my anticipated beer tasting, although, I had already cancelled it due to a lack of attendees, feeling unwell, and a leak in my Kitchen ceiling. The latter two have now been sorted so it seemed unwise to miss out on sampling almost all of the products purchased.......

The first one I tried was from Nottingham or Derby based brewery Black Iris. I had purchased their Nottingham Pride Pale ale which came in at a sensible strength of 4.5% and was an ideal starter. Pale, as described, and cloudy, as preferred, this was a gloriously easy drinking soup which very much tickled my taste buds.

Next up were two bottle conditioned bottles from Torrside Brewing. Their first was the Craft Hoodlums, a gloriously murky broth at 4.5% again, and wonderfully well balanced. I have to admit that my years in the beer selling trade has rather tainted my appreciation and indeed expectations of bottle conditioned beers but the two from Torrside restored my failing. Their second, the excellent Citra at possibly 5.0% was also once again glutinous (in a very good way) and proved an excellent start to that night's session.

There was a can from the wonderful Turning Point Brewery and their wonderful Circle Game, a Simcoe IPA whose strength alas I failed to record - I did however remember to photograph the blonde hazy mass of this wonderful concoction. On a similar note was the Cloudwater Citra Cy18, one of the many Yakima Chief hop series that was released recently. One of the complaints I made a year or two ago was the lack of any specifics of their ingredients - although - this is scarcely the point in this instance. What I can advise is that I have found almost all of their recent output incredibly refreshing, often bitter and reassuringly tasty. This trend was not abandoned in either this or their beautiful Horse DIPA at 8.5% which I supped last night - an excellent blend of hops and fruity flavours was very easy to enjoy.

Next was a fantastic can of the Neonraptor Hippo Launcher DIPA at 8.0%. As I noted on Faceache, whilst I recognise its an easily used word, I had to confirm that this was an excellently fruity DIPA. Brilliant design on the label as well.

I only purchased one small can - that being a 330ml ATOM and Salt Brewing DIPA called Hailte, or similar. I mentioned that it didn't list the hops used but I would point out that ATOM regularly use no or almost none of such ingredients. Possibly due to the involvement of Salt they were listed as HOPS in the ingredients and as with both of the similarly listed Cloudwater cans this was in no way an effect on the enjoyability of the flavour. In fact, the numerous listed herbal flavours perhaps made it a more enjoyable and quaffable ale.

There was also a can of Verdant, a 6.5% Pale Ale called Have we met before?, which in addition to the four excellent hops used I suspected the addition of London Fog 111 yeast helped me to find this especially enjoyable.

The 6.4% Citra Fog IPA from Burnt Mill made equally good use of the Citra involved, as well as being yeastily and frothingly cloudy to stimulate the taste buds further. The best of the new material however was a 5.5% saison from Wild Horse Brewing Co from Llandudno in Wales. Using an interesting mix of hops in Lemondrop and another I cannot at present recall (but which had a German sound if memory serves), this proved to be an excellently drinkable and reassuringly bitter, sweet and slightly but only marginally sour ale which met the description of its name perfectly.

Finally comes two interesting ales from Wander Beyond in Manchester. Soma was an 8.6% DIPA with a hint of lactose making a fantasticly easy to drink yellowy cloudy broth of fabulousness. The artwork on the can was likewise superb. Their final can was the La Catrina spiced Imperial stout, a fabulous mix of ingredients creating a murky depthed slab of ground like black horror which I have been very slowly and carefully supping for over an hour. A mixture of different sweet, spicy and tobacco themed ingredients balances out so well in this absolute cracker.

Once again, despite an understandable influence of DIPAs, I have managed to buy and try a marvelous selection of strong and hoppy and, increasingly, fruity and also sweet beers from a number of breweries, showing the British public that all of them, regardless of size or reputation, can produce an excellent and diverse range of ales..

Now to arrange to try the bottles of 86, 87, 88, and 1994 Thomas Hardy Ales that I have in bottles in the fridge.....

Your very good health!

Wee Beefy  

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Staffordshire trundle

Hello again,

          a few weeks ago WF's friend Cheryl from somewhere near St Albans came up to visit him, and to get some time away in the Peak district, before celebrating her 50th birthday. WF had intended us all to go out to the Ye Old Rock Inn at Upper Hulme, but that is currently closed.  Earlier this year we were shocked to find out that Mick, which may or equally may not, be the landlord's name, had put the pub up for sale. As WF had rather fallen out with the food at the Butchers, and as we intended to visit Cliff's, we suggested WF rang the now open and potentially not for sale pub, and to try and book us in.

The Friday in question posed some fairly grim weather, and after turning up at mine at 17.30 myself and WK quickly drove through the downpour to WF's where we picked him and Cheryl up, before we headed out through Bakewell to Monyash before heading down into the Dove Valley to meet up with the staff and customers at the Pack Horse Inn at Crowdecote.

When we arrived I mentioned to the gentleman behind the bar about the sale and he insisted that he would have bought and taken on another pub somewhere up north, but also that the brewery buying the pub off him withdrew their request at the last minute. This good news was improved as always by a choice of 4 real ales, two real ciders, and Moravka lager, unfiltered and brewed in nearby Taddington.

As we were there at about 19.15 we ordered drinks straight away, Cheryl on Cider, W's K and F on a Storm brewing beer, and I had, throughout our visit, three pints of beer from the Matlock Wolds Farm Brewery, a well kept and balanced bitter beer which was very enjoyable. Not a brewery I have come across before, but I have found out that they started brewing in 2014. We all stuck to just mains, WK had rare steak, WF something with Thyme in the dressing, and myself a fantastic piece of chicken breast in a sweet sauce and served with excellent tatties and veg. When we finally finished, and after one of WF's legendary time ending, glacial,  dawdles to the obviatorium, we were full up, so paid and thanked the pub before heading off up to Cliffs.

Its a short yomp up to Longnor, where there are now just two pubs open, Ye Old Cheshire Cheese and the Grapes Inn, before we headed out down the road onto the moorland and past mermaid's pool before arriving down the side road and parking in front of the Royal Cottage. The pub was quite busy when we arrived and once WF was on his Mans Brown Ale, me on a bottle of Old Speckled Hen and both WK and Cheryl were on J2o, we got comfy settled along the back. WF and Cliff got talking once more, whilst me and WK started up a chat with a young couple who were staying in their camper van nearby but actually lived somewhere near work in Sheffield.  

I was able to tell them stories of the unspoilt and alas, often now, closed pubs in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and to find out details about their previous visits to unchanged Derbyshire pubs. Even after this, we all had to agree that there was nowhere else like Cliff's, and we stayed until 11.00PM before letting him get to bed and driving home through the heavy rain and thick fog back into Bakewell, before dropping Cheryl and WF off in siling rain, and then heading home to mine and then he to WKs.

What this trip has show is that uts another case of change in the area, with the Ye Olde Rock Inn being long term closed for a massive refurbishment whilst the family try to sell it, Ken am told still selling three real ales, not always in the best of form, in the Quiet Woman, the pub that is now known as the Knights Table still open but changed from the excellent free house it once was, and the excellent job carried out by Mick at the Pack Horse,  continuing ever more. Lets hope all this goodness continues, and the otherwise decline is fought off, for many more years to come.


Wee Beefy


OK all, nobody panic.....

    I haven't started writing in poorly spelled French, nor have I been possessed from beyond the other side by a former living French person with a similar spelling issue. Instead I wanted to update you on three recent visits to Kommune in sunny Sheffield.

You may recall, since even I do, that I posted about my first visit to Kommune in early April, partially because it was a new venue, partially because my friend's Hop Hideout shop had opened there, and partially because I had heard some rather odd comments about its faults. Since then one of the original visitors has returned and enjoyed it, and the venues popularity seems to have increased. So here are a few mentions about my visits in August.

Earlier this month I nipped in quickly after work to buy some take outs for me and Christingpher, and to quickly sup an ale inside. The takeouts chosen were amazing - three different cans of the single or double hopped Yakima Chief hoppy pales from Cloudwater, the potentially Amarillo and Sabro mix being a very enjoyable 6.5% brew resembling orange juice and being gloriously easy to drink. Whilst there I quickly drank a whole pint of Kernel IPA at 7.2% or so, as ever this was a fabulously dry and hoppy beer bursting with flavours and aromas. Despite being only a quick visit this was very enjoyable and helped me to note what it was I had been missing out on.

Yesterday it was pay day and I had agreed to meet up with the lovely Tash. I had arranged to meet her at 13.30 but she was late leaving the house and promised to meet me in town at the tram stop by 14.30. I popped into Kommune to sample some small amounts of the delights on offer there. Three of the four choices were aged sour or red beers from Abbeydale, in their Funk Dungeon range. There was a 6.5% Sheffield Red, a sour plum ale and a sour cherry ale, housed and aged in different casks and barrels, and deliciously vibrant.

Jules had selected three slush style machines and was serving free glasses of frozen sweet ales to place in the top of the glass. She had got the idea, I think, from the large bar next door. The freezing fruitiness of the ales added a much appreciated extra dimension, and, unskillfully, I put all three of the ice cream items into my single half pint of the Red. By the time it was finished I had also bought a fabulously labelled can of white worm themed saison from a Welsh Brewery, and was ready to head up to town to grab the wonderful Tash.

As usual there was chaos on the tram tracks given that all the times provided on their system were wrong, and instead of waiting 48 minutes for the next blue tram to arrive, following the arrival of three others not shown, Tash arrived before three and we headed to the upstairs roof terrace bar in Curzon. After many more hours of shopping, supping in the Red Lion, where we met a wonderful member of bar staff, and  visiting the excellent Rutland Arms, due to them not serving food I suggested we head off back to Kommune. Despite my thus far three visits I have never eaten there, and the food served looks and sounds ace. After a brief diversion to the Dove we met up in the top eating area and ordered two absolutely fantastic pizzas.

I opted for beef calzone with chorizo and that was marvelous, and when Tash joined me she chose a fabulous Chinese pork and various vegetables crispy pizza which was really enjoyable, and perfectly presented. We shared each others, and by now very hungry we chomped them down quickly before, having already said goodbye to Jules, I headed down to the big bar to get some ales.

Although I am now not sure if they serve cask, or if they do, its something awful like Doom Bar, they do supply quite a lengthy range of kegs from the future. From a decent selection I ended up with two halves of Abbeydale session IPA at about 3.6% and I got a soft drink for Tash as she needed to get off quite quickly. We thoroughly loved the food and all the beers tried and, despite its somewhat inescapable level of variously aged hipsters, I have to say that I like the atmosphere and the surroundings of this excellent venue, almost as much as the wonderful range of beers.

Hopefully the success of Kommune and its multiple beer and food purveyors will continue to increase, and its reputation increases even more so over time.

Your very best of health!

Wee Beefy