another rapid fire round-up following my epic trip round the mid counties of England (and two in Wales ) with Mr P, Davefromtshop and Wee Fatha, ending a frenetic (but enjoyable August of trips away.
Blue Bee Brewery launch new beer - Rugbee Rugbee Rugbee!
I was lucky enough to be present and taking snaps for the launch of Blue Bee Brewery's new beer Rugbee Rugbee Rugbee. ( see http://twitter.com/#!/bluebeebrewery ) The launch took place at the excellent and now annual Abbeydale Sports Club/Shefield RUFC beer festival on the side of the pitch at the club, near Dore Station.
The club (with able assistance from Sarah Louise Morton) organised a troop of volunteer bar staff, some home made samosas and curry from a local restaurant along with the assembly of an impressive list of beers and ciders to tempt customers to the free festival where all beers were £2.50 a pint, regardless of strength.
Among the beers on sale was Blue Bee's new 4.8% beer Rugbee Rugbee Rugbee. This beer was launched at the festival, and brewed to coincide with the Rugby world cup being held in New Zealand, and brewed using Pacific Jade hops.
I started with a pint of the Blue Bee Nectar Pale by way of a comparison, and found the Rugbee had just as much hoppy bite, and a little more body than the pale, presumable because its a stronger brew. Along with some other fantastic ale this was a beer I tried a few pints of, along with (not in order) the excellent Boggart Rum Porter, Raw Anubis Porter, Spire Twist and Stout, Steel City Brewing Raw Steel IPA, Leadmill Rapture, and Thornbridge Summer ale (not all pints!). Sensibly my last beer of the night, was Thornbridge Geminus, a fearsomely hoppy 8.5% bed coaxer that meant despite heading to Dave's for a last one, I instead swiftly ended up in a taxi unable to recall the way home....
The festival was very busy especially with the crowds enjoying the band, Mahogany Newt, and runs for three days until, well, possibly 18 minutes ago, depending on when they close. Definitely a date to make in your diary for next year.
Forum Cafe Bar
A recent visit saw the beer range down to one, not that this is a venue renowned for its real ale or anything, but the surprise was the choice of beer. Springhead Olivers Army (see http://www.springhead.co.uk/olivers-army) is a ruby beer with strong malt notes that is somewhere between a bitter and a brown ale. I reckonm, if you are only to have one real ale on, this is either an edgy but confident idea, or a risky gamble. The beer was very quaffable but it was a hot day and I was dreaming of a pale ale all the way there.
Otherwise though, no real changes, with cocktails and wines still taking centre stage (and some decent continental draught). My only gripe - table service - sort it out!
Drinks seem to spend upwards of 10 minutes on the bar when they are busy, going warm or worse still, going nowhere - after waiting 15 minutes they then told me that they didn't have the product I ordered after all. A badly executed good plan am afraid....
York, beer from the shire.
Over the bank holiday weekend I was in sunny (and torrential rainy ) York, the capital of our county (that's right, its not chuffin Leeds) and beholder of an excellent range of pubs. Primarily this was a weekend away for me and Chala so tricky excursions to pubs on the outskirts was out of the question, we just wandered around and went in those we found, mostly.
On day one we holed up for an hour in the excellent Pivni near Newgate market and Swinegate. This fabulous old building has a wonderfully quirky tiled floor downstairs, some disconcertingly warped wood upstairs, and a beer to suit all tastes on the bar. In addition to an unusual selection of continental draught, and 77 lager in keg from BrewDog, there were 4 or 5 real ales on the bar.
I tried a pint of a low gravity Salamander Brewing Co beer which may have been their Axolotl but i concede I don't remember, as well as a half of the BrewDog (cask) Alice Porter, which was fantastic. Its a shame we didn't have more time to stick around, but on our way out later we stopped at a typically rammed Maltings, to sample a pint of Dow bridge mild, and half a Kirkstall Pale, both of which were very suppable.
On the Sunday we got to the Blue Bell at just gone midday to be puzzled that they had hired the front bar out for a private party - that's half of the pub! We did however get a seat in the back and enjoyed a Roosters Yankee, which is a beer I haven't had for a while, and Chala had to settle for coke as the Erdinger was all gone.
Later on we finally found the York brewery Yorkshire Terrier pub on Stonegate - not because its necessarily difficult to find, but because Chala had imagined it was accessed from the shambles. This excellent little pub has 4 separate drinking areas and a range of about 7 real ales. I had a very quaffable pint of the York Yorkshire Terrier, which unless am mistaken, seems to have lost a little hoppiness over the years ? Come on the York Brewery, terriers have bite!
Further up Stonegate is the excellent but real ale free Evil Eye lounge, an uber cool cocktail and tapas bar with a range of good bottled beers and a 4 page menu of cocktails and slammers for those who like the harder stuff. As well as trying some truly unwise and quaffable drinks, like a few B52's for yours truly, I also had a refreshing bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier. York bottled beers are also available, and there is a specialist off licence at the front. Well worth a look if in York...
Our penultimate pub stop was new to me, the Brigantes bar, a real ale pub similar in style to the Harlequin in good old Sheff, serving a range of about 8 real ales and once again some continental draught. I tried a half of the Kostritzer Schwarzbier from Germany which was a delicious if unusual find, along with pints of York Guzzler and a Brew Company IPA that tasted very faintly, but enjoyably, of oranges.
We did have a real ale with our meal - a half of Sharps Doom Bar at All bar One, a beer now starting to taste more and more malty and less like something I would choose to drink, but ABO only has one pump.
On Monday we somehow contrived to visit no real ale pubs, but with time to spare at the station made the mistake of visiting the coopers Bar. 6 Handpumps, all turned round and having sold 3 beers, Grim King IPA and Abbot, and Theakstons best. Not a continental lager in sight (not even a Kronenburg wheat or similar) and nowt more inspiring in bottle than Newky Brown. In the end, if only to fill in time, I opted for a tonic water and Chala a coke. That really was as food as the place got!
All in all (despite the lack of a decent station bar) York is a magnet for lovers of real ale and pubs, not forgetting of course my absence from the Golden Ball, Swan, 3 Legged Mare, Last Drop Inn, Fleece, Three Cranes and Rook and Gaskill to name but a few.
That's all the beer news I have for now, not withstanding that I have more Scottish cask ale travels to tell of, and our trip round the shires of England and Wales.
Take care and thirst no more